Perhaps I came to Sanibel with too many goals.
I brought all the calendars I’ve kept since 1995. To make a family history…to fill in the gaps in my memory, or reinforce it. I am hoping that when I next look at photos…first in albums, then in digital files, as we acquired technology…and our credit card records, I’ll have a decent capture of the lives we’ve lived. And it will be written down, so none of us will forget those 19 years, 3 months and 12 days. I’m up to January 2004 and I’ve spent several hours getting there, bathed in tender recall that is both painful and sweet.
I brought all of my journals since 1994…to accompany me on that journey, Journals full of the angst and difficulty of trying to be a good mom – to small children, to teens, to young adults – when you don’t feel like God gave you a whole lot of wisdom in that department. Journals with occasional hints of the many joys I felt anyway.
I brought 150 postcards, with the last family photo we ever took on one side, and a long list of people to thank. For their kindness. For their donations. For the love. I did finish writing those, although not without a short but intense pity party. Why me? Why us? Why has this happened to our family? To Mark?
I brought so many books I needed a second suitcase, and notecards for writing down the quotes already underlined. So many writers have inspired me.
And I “brought” this blog in its fledgling form. Lots of unpublished drafts that I need to edit and organize, and then I need to write a bunch of new posts to fill in what’s happened since last December. (The Inner Critic asks, “Who the hell do you think you are?”)
Well….turns out it’s hard to find the writing muse in a strange place, where sea and sky and warmth call you out of doors. It’s hard to hunker down, to do the work, to feel your feelings and face the thing that sent you here in the first place…that cold, awful hard fact, and all of the questions still lingering in heart and mind (I actually wrote them down on huge sticky notes, which are hung on the mirrored wall of the tiny dining area of this condo).
I thought getting away alone was the right idea – so that I would have all the time and space I think I need to focus. I came here specifically to write, to wrestle with God and to hopefully find some measure of healing. I’m almost halfway through my allotted days. Am I accomplishing anything? Is God here?
Everyone says let it be what it is…that I can do anything I darn well please in these two weeks because “I deserve it” (“That’s right, Emily! Your son died and lucky you, you get TWO WEEKS of vacation in suuuuunny Floridaaaa!”). I’m simply aware of this unique opportunity that I created for myself, possibly never to be repeated, and of my fear that I will get to the end and return home unchanged but for a tan that slowly fades away.