Home now and a year ago

“Home” today means staying in, even though it’s sunny outside. Home means grabbing what I can find to eat as I hold my feverish baby, a baby born a year ago tomorrow. For, I am home to this little one, as she curls on my chest trying to get comfortable amidst her runny nose and warm forehead. She wakes briefly to smile and point at her brother, emanating joy even in her sorrow.

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A year ago, I waited and waited for her birth. I couldn’t really believe I was going to have a girl after three boys and it all felt new for the first time, though I’d already had three babies. Her entrance in the world was steady and true and came through the pain of bearing down when I just didn’t want to do it anymore. But my beautiful Harriet Susan Joy came at the appointed time. And then was later whisked away to the NICU for breathing problems.

I felt like my joy was stolen. No baby cuddles in the middle of the night, except through beeps and wires. No blissful rooming-in as we watched the snow fall outside the window. I was in my room and she in hers and every three hours, I visited her, my breasts an offering and a letting go. I walked that pathway — from room, down halls, to elevator, to NICU, to elevator, to room — as a labyrinth, looking for illumination and meaning, yet just feeling separated from her and alone.

And so today, though there is much to be done, nothing is more important than now and nothing is more important than this. Today there are no NICU walls or wires to separate us. This ministry of presence, of just being here, and showing up. Whether you’re showing up for a spouse, a friend, a colleague or a sick child, I hope that you, too, will show up and be present and let the inconsequential fall away.

Because “home” is your people. Wherever you may find them.

 

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2 Comments

  1. I love the idea of home being your people, but I struggle with it a bit as a mid-to-late-30s-never-been-married woman. I’ve lived with my best friend for the past 8 years but she is in a serious romantic relationship and we have 18 mos more at best. My two sisters are long married with families of their own and in different states and my parents live 8 hrs away and haven’t been “home” for well over a decade.

    How do you find home as a single person? I realize that marriage and family can change at a moment’s notice, but there are still covenant-binding promises there. Any counsel about how to find home in/with people who are often coming and going? I would love to hear some of your thoughts about finding home when “your people” can be hard to name or hold onto.

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    1. Rebecca Jean, thank you for commenting and sharing! I never want my blog to simply be relevant to the “mommy blogger” set. I don’t know if you’re a Christian or not, but for me (as a Christian), the answer to “your people” is really more than my family, it’s the Church. Granted, the Church doesn’t always look welcoming and homey to everyone, sadly. This of course, does not make it okay. But ideally the Church should be the family that we all long for, where generations come together in common pursuit of Jesus. Where there’s grace given and received, where we’re all learning and where we’re practicing being vulnerable and real because we have nothing to lose.

      I think a lot of it, too, is being brave. Being brave to tell new friends that you want to pursue a friendship with them, that there’s something there. Being brave to dive into a community — a church, a book club, a supper club, your neighbors right around you — and doing something about it, like throwing a party and inviting your neighbors. Then you go about intentionally pursuing them.

      But our milieu is that we are so transitory and get easily boxed into what is expected (soccer schedules, date nights, coffee dates with friends, etc.) that it’s hard to break those habits. I feel for you as you anticipate losing your friend as you anticipate her marriage. That’s real and hard and painful and worth grieving over (so expect to go through the stages of grief). What I do want to commend you on especially is that you are still asking, still looking to make “home” where you find it. It’s easy to wall ourselves off and it doesn’t sound like you are doing that. You are continuing to put yourself out there and be brave. That is courageous!!

      Ultimately, our homes here and now will never fully satisfy. They’re pictures of true community, but they’re also broken and twisted. But I think we find our “tribe” and we commit to it and keep giving, even as people leave and move on and don’t appreciate us.

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