We helped moved my father-in-law out of his house this past weekend. As his 90th birthday approaches, George decided he needed to stop living alone so he moved into his daughter’s house. Smart man.
Seeing the house packed up, waiting for the movers to arrive, was a bit surreal. After all, my husband and I had lived there, too. In our other life.
I will never forget the night I stood in George’s guest room and sobbed. My husband and I had been on the road all day, driving our packed cars across three states to my father-in-law’s house where we would begin the arduous task of rebuilding our lives. Chapter 5 of Moving On: Surviving the Grief of Forced Termination, describes the scene this way:
A full moon shone brightly by the time we pulled up in front of my father-in-law’s home. Exhaustion consumed me but adrenaline surged through my body as a host of emotions began surfacing. An incongruous mixture of gratitude, anger, fear and relief spilled out of my pores as I began unloading the car. I could faintly hear the sound of my husband’s voice in the distance, pleading with me to slow down. But I knew if I slowed down I might stop, and if I stopped I would surely fall apart. So I forged ahead, determined to carry in every box, every suitcase and every armload of clothes until finally my car sat empty.
Then I stopped.
And then I fell apart.
Through my tears I found myself standing in my father-in-law’s guest room. I couldn’t believe that in a blur of time I had gone from living in a beautiful multi-level home that was mine to living in one room that belonged to someone else. We didn’t know it at the time, but that room would be our home for the next seven months. Seven long months.
That was eight years ago. Much has happened since living with my father-in-law those seven months. (Seven months, I might add, that turned out to be incredibly special.) We’ve rebuilt our lives, have meaningful jobs, own a home and continue to be blessed with wonderful friendships. Most of the wounds have healed and tender scars remind us of how far we’ve come.
If you’ve just begun a journey of grief, it may be too soon to look back and see progress. But if you’ve been traveling your journey for a while, take a moment and look at how far you’ve come. You may be surprised. As Rick Warren has said, “Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.”