Today our country celebrates Independence Day. It’s not a typical year of the crowd-gathering festivals and celebrations, but there’ll be plenty of backyard barbecues and meals with family and friends. We take time to remember how our country earned its freedom and recognize that many men and women have sacrificed to maintain the liberties we enjoy– and often forget.
For some of us, this year is not typical. Beyond the ways the pandemic has changed all of our lives, we’re facing individual challenges that we’ve never encountered. I’ll remember this July 4th as the year I moved toward my personal independence.
I’ve spent the last three days clearing out and cleaning out our home that’ll we’ll hand over to the new owner next week. Today my husband met me at the house and we went about our tasks– much like we did when we were together. I cleared out the refrigerator and he cleaned the garage. We stopped occasionally to talk about our sons and grandsons and continued to divide the contents that remain. I wondered how we could have accumulated six bottles of mustard, three containers of every major bathroom cleaner, and enough light bulbs for all of Durham.
While this has been a most exhausting move, it’s also been satisfying knowing that I’m going forward, crossing over ‘The Gap’ I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Selling our home, dividing our belongings from forty years of marriage, and moving into my apartment–the first place I’ve had by myself, feels like I’ve stepped on several rocks in that river of transition.
There have been so many decisions that I’ve made by myself that for years I’d made with my husband. I’ve not been alone in this process; God has provided direction through the ‘still small voice’ that is within me. Stepping forward without leaning on another person develops confidence.
Over the past year, there have been many times I’ve had to stop that well-rehearsed, automatic, spouse-pleasing response and think, “What do I want?”
I suspect there are many people, not necessarily going through a divorce, who need to step back and ask this same question, “What do I want?” Sometimes we’re so consumed with the needs of others that we lose ourselves in the process. On this ‘Independence Day’ there may be areas of our lives where we need the freedom of making our own decisions, feeling positive about the direction that is right for us.
My new apartment is filled with boxes to be unpacked. I feel that disequilibrium that is not being sure which box marked ‘kitchen’ has my cereal bowls and which has the pan for frying my eggs. Guess by the time I got down to those final items I ran out of energy for being specific of the contents. It reminds me of six years ago when we moved into this house which we’re now selling. In spite of having boxes to unpack, I made the decision that I must go on my solo journey.
That year I took my longest road trip ever, and traveled to Michigan. One of my stops was in the town of Petoskey. There, I ate lunch at Jesperson’s, a downtown restaurant known for its cherry pies. The dessert was as tasty as I’d heard, made with those tart cherries and balanced with the sweetness of vanilla ice cream. I was very tired when I’d headed to Michigan but sitting at the table eating that pie, along with all the adventures along the way, made me glad I’d pushed beyond my tiredness.
Today my older sister, Harriet offered me a ‘curbside’ 4th of July meal from her kitchen; She reminds me of Mama in the way she likes to feed people. Sweaty and too tired to get out of my car, Harriet brought my tray of food to me.
What a feast! There was grilled steak and chicken, grilled fresh peaches, grilled egg plant, tossed salad, baked beans, warm beer bread, and— for dessert, freshly baked cherry pie! I will eat my final meal in my ‘old’ house, sitting on a lawn chair and using an empty overturned box for my table.
Afterwards, I’ll finish this post and then pack the car with one more load to take to my ‘new home’ before it’s dark. And to reward my very hard day, I’ll heat up that cherry pie and have a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
And I would offer you some of my pie– but I never share dessert! And again, that reminds me of Mama (her birthday was July 9th). She heard me tell someone that I never share dessert, to which she looked at me with a frown and said, “That’s ugly.” That wasn’t the only time I heard her make that remark.
It’s time to finish this post so I can load the car. My hope is that you’re celebrating this Independence Day in the way that you desire. And may the time between now and the next Independence Day have us both navigating to New Beginnings that bring us life and joy.