I’m sitting in my living room, on an old beat up chair, staring at empty walls. In the corner is a china cabinet with no china in it. The toys which once were carefully organized in baskets on a bookshelf now lay piled in a corner. The bookshelf is gone. Down stairs is a room piled high with boxes. Each box has a label such as “boy clothes,” “books” or “kitchen items.” On the counter is a list of address changes that need to be made.
We are moving.
I’ve moved a lot in my lifetime. I’ve had 14 homes in 4 countries in my 32 years. Growing up, I went to a school where kids were moving all the time. Most of my friends were kids of ambassadors or their parents worked for multinational corporations. You would make a best friend and half way through the year their dad would get transferred to Colombia, or South Africa. You’d think this would make it hard to make good friends, but I think for most of us who grew up in that environment, it made us better at it. We realized that when you found a good friend, you needed to make the most of the time you had together, because you didn’t know how long it would last.
This is something I have carried with me as I’ve moved from country to country, or city to city. I believe that home is where you make it. Whether in a big family home in Mexico City, a compound in rural Afghanistan, a basement apartment in Edmonton – I have done my best to make sure that where ever I find myself living, and for however long I live there, I make that my home. And for me that extends farther than putting pictures on walls, and organizing the drawers in the kitchen. When I’m living in a community, I want to really live in that community.
And so, as I look around my empty home, I can’t help but feel a certain heart ache that comes with every move I’ve made in my life. But this one is especially poignant for me.
I’m leaving Edmonton.
This city, where my dream of becoming a nurse became a reality. Two years of hard work, many tears, and a lot of sweat resulted in a fancy diploma with the words Bachelor of Science in Nursing. If you had known me growing up, you never would have believed the drama/history/English literature nerd would achieve a Bachelor of Science in anything. But it happened here.
This city, where I got the amazing opportunity to work at my dream job. The first time I saw a baby born was here in this city, and over the course of a couple more years I got to be a part of that miracle over and over and over again. I got to help two people welcome a baby into their world and become a family. And sometimes I was there on the day the miracle didn’t happen, and I had the honour and privilege of being with a family as they suffered pain like they had never felt before.
This city, where I met some truly amazing people, and made friendships that will I know will stay vibrant and strong despite the distance, because when you really connect with someone on that level, it doesn’t matter how far away you are. You just need to keep connecting with them.
This city, where I first felt the joy of becoming a new mother. The trails where I walked trying to induce a labour that never came, and where I walked my babies in their strollers on warm summer evenings. The sidewalks where Mateo first learned to walk, and then run. The swings where he first shrieked with joy as he felt the wind rush around his face.
This house, where I first brought home my baby boys, wrapped tight in their car seats. The floors I have paced, soothing a fussy baby in my arms, avoiding the spots I know will creak so as not to wake or startle them. The yard where Mateo got his first skinned knee. The garden where he learned to dig out onions, and pluck tomatoes.
I’m leaving it all. And as I sit and think about the almost five years we have spent in this city, as I am flooded with all the wonderful memories, I can feel the sting of tears beginning to form. Yes, they are tears of sadness. There is so much I will miss. But they are also tears of gratitude, for all the good that God has brought into my life in my time here.
I leave a different person than I was in so many ways. I hope I leave a better person than I was.
And I look forward, with so much joy and excitement, to the next chapter in our lives. Change will do you good, or so Sheryl Crow says (though I never particularly liked that song), so I look forward to the good that will come with this change, and the new adventures that are in store for us in Ontario.
Goodbye Edmonton, and thank you.