(I have had the privilege of writing for Abilene Families magazine for over 5 years now. When I learned I would be moving away from Abilene, I didn't know if I would be able to continue to write for the magazine. With this thought on my heart, I quickly wrote the following piece, so grateful for the time my family had in that precious place.
When I asked if I would be able to continue writing for Abilene Families even if I didn't live in Abilene, I got a wonderful mom and editor reply, "We'll see..." :-) And my editor allowed me to continue writing to the very end.
Last month turned out to be the last issue of Abilene Families magazine. Had I known that when I submitted my article, this is the one I would have submitted. It's just as well, I'm sure. But the following is my 'so long, Abilene' piece):
My footsteps echo throughout the house, meaning we are making progress, though this doesn’t feel like progress. As more of my belongings fill the truck parked in the driveway, the house becomes vacant. As the house grows empty, my heart fills with memories grown within these walls. Birthday parties and broken bones, sleepovers and silly dances, lazy days and laughing fits all echo in my head.
We have spent so much of the last few weeks facing forward, looking to the new house, new job, new school, new town, and planning for the transition that I haven’t taken much, if any, time to look back. While men who wish they didn’t know us wrestle a mirrored armoire onto the moving truck, I pause at the doorway to reflect on all that this home and this town have been to us.
It’s only been nine years. As an adult, it barely seems a snap of a finger. To both of my children, it’s the majority of their lives. We moved to this town and into this house as my oldest was starting kindergarten. They only know a spring where the wind howls constantly and summers of relentless, baking heat. This is the town they will always call home.
Leaving now, I wonder the meaning of it all. The difficulty of leaving is so great, I wonder why we had this brief stopover here at all. Why, nine years ago, didn’t the gods of employment simply take us to where we are going now? Why go through another painful round of transition?
The answer is simple when I think of my family’s benefit of being here. Teachers and friends have invested in my children’s education and growth, loving them and encouraging them. My husband and I also have been blessed and mentored and grown into better people than when we arrived here nine years ago.
Especially in the last year through uncertain times and difficult circumstances, we have been granted kindnesses and grace that we will never be able to repay, and can only hope to adequately pay forward. It’s easy to see from my vantage point that it was good for us to be here.
So I wonder from the city’s -- our friends, really -- vantage point. Did it matter that we were here? Was I able to let enough people know the difference that they made in my life? Did I thank enough of my children’s teachers? Did I make a ripple while I was here? Now that I am leaving, will it matter that I am gone? Not “will they miss me” but “did I make a difference”?
The slave-driving, task master of the moving team, who most people recognize as my husband, is impatient with my reverie. He is a goal-oriented guy who can only see how much is left to be done. This is not the time for great ponderings and musings, only time for packing and cleaning right now. Focus!
I make the final rounds of the last few boxes and stray belongings, sweeping up stray wrappers and the dog hair that the next owners will think magically springs from the baseboards.
The sound of my steps ricochet off the walls one last time as I cross to the door, toward the new town. The door creaks closed and with the final click of the latch, seals in the memories of the days we have lived here. The engine of the truck roars to life, ready to take us to our new home, to make new memories.
Rolling out of town I blink back tears, knowing not only that we will be back, but we have forever taken this dust-strewn town with us. It has molded us, lovingly formed and forged us into who we are today. There is no leaving it behind, only honoring those who have invested in our lives. Leaving the precious town in the rearview mirror that is partially obscured by a storage crate, I face my new destination ready to pay forward the encouragement and blessings of the last. Moving on.