i am perched, very properly, on a grey streamlined couch.
the office looks the same as it always as. white walls infused with just a pinch of grey. glass table with the wrought iron cursive words – hope, faith, and love, i think- placed atop it. shaggy white rug tucked beneath. the most divine pillows: yellow and grey floral, and a cream one that strangely resembles a long-haired puppy. she is lounging across from me, legs crossed, in a white leather swivel chair. the pumpkin candle i bought her for christmas is resting on the impossible-to-keep-clean glass and chrome desk.
i’ve sat in this office hundreds of times. for formal meetings, informal prayer sessions, and impromptu friday afternoon pow wows punctuated with far more giddiness than is most likely appropriate for mature women working in a residential home. when i was pregnant i used to fling myself into that white swivel chair after teaching fitness and stretch my legs out, explaining “i just need a second” in heaving breaths. and she would look over with a knowing grin and tell me to take my time. i don’t think i ever told her how much i appreciated that.
but today i don’t quite recognize this space. it feels unfamilar – awkward even. like the time i accidentally wandered into the men’s washroom. i sit on the edge of the couch, my mind wandering, staring at the laminate. i don’t want to say it.
“you’re not coming back are you?”
i pause. this is it. i have to say it.
i tear my eyes away from the floor and look up. her eyes are on me, patiently waiting, full of all the love and graciousness and familiarity i’ve leaned on over the years.
and i lose it.
i’d been holding in the emotion for days. ever since my husband and i sat at our white ikea kitchen table, my maternity leave rapidly dwindling, surrounded by a list of of expenses, work schedules, and a laptop open to seven different local childcare options.
the decision was glaringly obvious. which is what i had asked God for. flashing lights. slamming doors. lightning bolts from heaven. and He delivered.
the next few days i numbly carried out the tasks that were so foreign to me ten months ago. i engaged in full contact diaper changes. got fully drenched during bath time. felt my heart turn over as a tiny blond head nestled under my chin.
i didn’t let myself think about it at all.
but as i heard myself utter that teensy loaded syllable, the clouds of illusion parted long enough for me to see an anvil shaped dose of reality hurtling towards me.
i cried all the way home. and a good chunk of the weekend. the crying was really only interspersed with eating whatever sugar laden confection i lost a staring contest with.
i’ve moved past the sugar coma phase. but i am still mourning. those close to me are surprised. my job has become synonymous with my calling, my passion, my heart. it seems out of character for me to step away from it now. it is out of character for me.
and so i feel like a piece of me is lost and i can’t retrieve it. like i did when i was seven and my best friend and i would meet every day after school to ride our bikes and play superheroes and divulge our most outlandish secrets (the kind that only seven-year-olds can have). we were inseparable. then he told me his family was moving across town – practically an ocean away to my tender heart. we promised to write, to visit, that nothing would change – all those comforting things you say when you know it’s never going to be the same. and it wasn’t. and it won’t be now.
i know this is the right choice for this season of my life. and although God has closed this particular door, i feel a light breeze caress my face from the window He’s gently creaking open across the way. He’s taking His time with it- He knows i need it.
my soul is at peace.
it’s just my heart that hurts.