I took in the view of the Minneapolis skyline and felt a heaviness in my chest that I didn’t anticipate. Maybe it was my soul reminding me how badly I had wanted to come home to say goodbye to my grandma before she passed.
Maybe it was the huge relief of knowing I would finally get to see “my people”- the ones who raised me, who grew with me, who know me best. Or maybe it was just the fact that I had a massive migraine after a tantrum ridden flight and an hour long wait for our rental car.
Regardless, there we were, driving through Minneapolis. Chad, cheerfully trying to chat me up, and our backseat passengers voicing their displeasure in this long day of travel.
It had been 9 months since we were in Minnesota as a family, 4 months since I had snuck up by myself for a quick 24 hour trip for a friends birthday.
The hotel we were staying at was just 5 minutes from our old house, so it goes without saying that I insisted we must drive past our old house at a creepily slow pace.
The tears started splattering when we turned onto our block and passed the park I spent countless hours at- teaching the girls how to climb up to the slides, pushing them on the swings until their sweet blue eyes got heavy, toddling around as a new family of 4.
I remember going down the slide when I was nine months pregnant with Alice hoping it would put me into labor. I remember taking Avery to the park with Alice snug in the baby carrier when she was just 3 days old.
When we passed our old house, I was basically a nut case, sobbing, while Avery and Alice were confused about why Mommy could be crying. Wasn’t that their job?
When we drove down to Florida last August, I listened to one of my favorite books on Audible, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.” In the book, the author highlights the relationship of change and loss.
“As a therapist, I know a lot about pain, about the ways in which pain is tied to loss. But I also know something less commonly understood: that change and loss travel together. We can’t have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want change but nonetheless stay exactly the same.”Lori Gottlieb
And so, in the front seat of a rental car, stuffed with my
mostly favorite people, I grieved the loss produced by a change we purposefully made almost a year ago. A change that, yes, has produced so much good; but a change that, yes, has also produced loss.
Us Minnesotan’s like to go “Up Nort” (north), to spend time at the lake each summer. My Dad’s side of the family has the tradition of spending a week each July together at a lakeside resort.
Our family vacations in the best possible way: very few organized activities, schedules that run more on how we feel than by what time it is, high quality junk food, a rotation of lounging by the pool and the lake, and late nights playing poker or mafia.
Usually we start a puzzle at some point and in prior years, we would finish it. Lately we’ve given up 1/4th of the way through. This year we stuck to a 25 piece Winnie the Pooh puzzle. Avery and Alice finished it in 15 minutes. We were all relieved.
Showers are not required, nor are outfit changes. If you’re wanting to clean up a bit, you can always turn your shirt inside out. Before guests come, we do try to put deodorant on and brush our 4 front teeth.
This was our first year without G-Dizz (or as normal families may call their elder, Grandma).
Her absence was palpable. Her comfy chair sat empty, and we half expected a snarky comment to come from that direction at any time. We missed her shriek during poker games whenever she was upset by losing. We missed her classy figure, sitting poolside while wearing her zebra print swim suit, sipping a beer. Mostly, we missed her in all the normal moments that we couldn’t share together.
Have you ever noticed the beauty of familiar things? Like how the first time you listen to a song you might hate it, but by the tenth time you hear it, it might be your favorite song? Or how you can travel the world, but still find home to be your favorite place to be?
For me, it is birch trees, lakes, cool morning weather, and fireplaces. No matter how far I go, or where I end up living, these things will always stick out to me as the most comforting, beautiful things.
And now, we are back home… at our Florida home. I’m soaking in sleeping in my own bed, with my favorite pillows, wearing my faithful polka dot bathrobe that has been with me for the past 6 years.
I had my weekly visit with Donna, the slightly monotone checkout lady at Target (monotone people unite). I had my weekly wave with deli meat man (name unknown) who’s wife has MS.
The girls are happy to be reunited with their toys, and Chad is happy to be reunited with his golf course.
This year has been full of change and loss. Beauty and pain have coexisted. But Florida is sure beginning to feel like home, in the best possible way.
With that said, I find it fitting to announce that we are beginning to house hunt down here in Florida and plan to stay while.
Wishing you all the courage to make scary changes, the people to love you through it all, and the beauty that comes with the change.
I hope you never forget the people, places, and things that have molded you into who you are today.
Above all, I hope you soak in the “normal moments” with those you love.