A piece of Arkansas came to Georgia this last weekend.
Suzan and her daughter drove 12 1/2 hours to be with us for one day and one evening. There was laughter and story telling, plenty of popsicles and pumpkin carving.
Over and over we said, “I can’t believe she’s here!” and we cried because her presence brought life.
And on Sunday morning she left, and it catapulted Eliot into a few days of emotional turmoil, a toddler trying to understand his old world and his new one, and where his best friend fits into it.
We moved here a year and half ago, embarking on this new and exciting journey.
But our oldest son still remembers those first two years of his life, those Ozark leaves and that paved street that curved around our neighborhood block.
I cannot drown out those memories, and I’d never want to.
So Suzan entering our new world brought a fresh sort of love here, and a new mourning.
We grieve those places all over again, the coffee shop we frequented and the library that brought us such joy in reading.
I grieve the mornings that I sat in my living room and watched my boys walk down the block with Suzan and Ruth, our other neighbor who looks after a little girl Eliot’s age.
So, our remembering brings us to a hard place, and the challenge is to be present here, even in the heartache.
Eliot remembers his home and his best friend all over again, and I’d give so much to re-create those moments, to twist time so they linger on for him a little longer.
But this sweet place is where we are now, this bustling suburb right near this boisterous city, and we love where we’re planted.
So for now, it’s a conscious choice to acknowledge what is good here.
We choose to make new memories.
We choose to embrace these friends, these moments.
We go to Hannah’s for lunch, and the boys make maracas out of plastic cups and homemade hummus, and we feast together.
We go to church and remember the body and the blood, the way it’s tethered people to each other for centuries.
I teach guitar lessons to Avery every week, and I am reminded that God gives us friends for every season.
We eat lunch at a local restaurant that we’ve wanted to visit for months, and our waiter buys our appetizer.
And we remember God in humanity, God in our midst.
It’s easy to propel ourselves backward into an earlier time that was good and life-giving.
But then we lose something in our everyday experiences here and now, and our senses become dulled to what good surrounds us in the present.
Again, it’s a conscious living, a daily choosing to participate in what life we have available to us here.
Our hearts still grieve, and we still long for earlier days that gave such peace to our family.
But we see what is good here, and we give thanks for it, and realize that maybe Georgia and Arkansas aren’t so many worlds apart, after all.