Ahhh, holidays sweet holidays. A time to relax, kick back and take deep, deep breaths. This year, my family and I returned to my husband’s family home in Adelaide, Australia. As soon as I set foot out of the car at Vic’s parent’s house, my senses were flooded with the incredible smells of Fall. The sweet aroma of pine and lavender filled my head, and the sounds of crickets singing filled my ears. Oh, the sweet land of trees! Such a contrast to Tyre, Lebanon – where I live – which is a cement jungle. This only makes these Adelaide sensations all the more wonderful. I breathed deeply, capturing the moment and the memory.
I couldn’t help but remember the last time I arrived here. It wasn’t joyous, and I remember nothing of the smells. I was shut down, retracted into myself. I remember not wanting to get out of the car. I remember Vic’s folks coming over, tears in their eyes, to hug us. You see, the last time I was here, our beautiful daughter, Kateryna, was admitted to the hospital for overnight monitoring. Little did we know, she would never come home again.
That was almost 5 years ago, and this was my first time back. Vic and the kids have been back, but I’ve typically made excuses (aka smoke screens) about needing to work. This time, however, I was ready to breathe and move through the experience of seeing this house and the family again. I was mentally prepared, mentally strong enough to accept and ready to see joy in the present. I was going to breathe and let life unfold.
As we drove to Vic’s family home from the airport, I prepared myself, knowing that this was going to be really hard. I took calming deep breaths, gently and lovingly reminded myself to live here in the present and reminded myself that I have a choice to be either happy or sad. And when we arrived, I was present….right there in that moment.
I was happy for the smells. I was happy for the joyous laughter of the kids, for the loving hugs of grandparents to grandchildren and for the warmth and love that embraced my family and me. Sometimes, the gift of life is in letting go, in taking a deep breath and letting the moment be unpolluted by all that happened before. And yes, sometimes we have to consciously choose to do this.
It doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten or that we don’t have pain. I can’t describe exactly how it feels. I only know that both homecomings have been integrated into my life and have played a role in molding my spirit and my being. I will never say that I’m grateful for my loss, but I have learned to live again. For that….I am truly thankful.
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