For the last couple of weeks I have been in Australia with my three kids, my daughter's best friend, and my fiancé. We spent ten magical days touring, laughing, learning Australian phrases, introducing the kids to Michael's friends and family, and exploring our new family dynamics. We couldn't have asked for a better first togetherness trip.
The kids and I arrived home safely, and Michael will be following us in less than a week. We brought home some of the things he didn't want to send on the ocean liner that will deliver his personal belongings to his new address in America. As I unpacked his leather jacket, a few business suits, hiking boots, linens he thought I would like, and t-shirts that all have some sort of Australian logo on them I found myself wondering...whose life is this?! Five years ago I was packing up beloved items of the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with and trying to find an appropriate home for each and every one. Press the fast forward button and I am now trying to find space in this house that I have somehow stuffed full of my own things for a different man that I will spend as much of my life with as fate allows.
As the reality of Michael's eminent immigration gradually sets in, my heart has begun to attempt a daring escape. For the past five years I have held my heart in a vice like death grip. The first months after Phil's death I think I needed to contain my heart to keep myself from bleeding out! As the years passed my heart hold remained a constant shield from disappointment. As long as I didn't expect for life to be kind to me, there was no danger of having my hopes dashed. I liked to play any game of the heart very close to the vest. But then love called me out and asked if I was willing to give up the chance to experience joy in a vain attempt to create a safety net that would protect me from future pain. Lip service to the idea of taking a risk is fine, facing the reality? A whole new ball game.
Yet as I unpacked these manly things into my very feminine bedroom my heart would not stop doing a little jig. The concept of a happy partnership with a wonderful man who loves me kept causing my poor strangled heart to struggle to be free to sing. Sing about how great it will be to have Michael here everyday, sing about the wonder of having a man who wants to take care of me right here in this house, sing about the fun things we will do, sing about the projects we will embark on together, sing about date nights, and dinners, and wine tasting, making new friends, enjoying old friends, and calling Michael on the phone in the SAME time zone. All of these things are right on the horizon. On one hand the nearness of joy terrifies me and on the other hand my captive heart is rapidly wriggling free of the clamps that have been securely attached for just about five years and refusing to stop singing.
The one thing that settles me slightly as I face an amazing, but unexpected future is the fact that love is the only thing that never dies.