(This post should actually be backdated a bit, I wrote it a couple of weeks ago on a Word document and forgot to post it. I'll be back with something more current soon!)
When we first hit upon our one year anniversary in Budapest I thought about how far we’ve come. I imagined and relived our first few days, comparing those hazy memories to our life here now. Fear and confusion replaced by confidence and security, tinged with happiness, spotted with challenges.
I looked at our family. The boys screaming with excitement when Joel arrived home from work. Navigating car rides and countries and kids entirely on our own. I watched the boys grow sticky with ice cream and wet with dancing fountains.
But the memories, both happy and hard, are tainted with gaps. Moments of dead air where we most acutely feel our distance from home. Those times of joy and hardship that we are simply not there for.
One whole year and I still haven’t figured it out. How to celebrate new life without holding it, how to be there through surgeries and sickness without stepping through the tinted hospital doors, how to grieve without funerals, to comfort without hugs.
And while we try to do these things from afar, we fail to accomplish that which we would back home. There are just some moments where a phone call won’t suffice, where 100 written words lack the simple power of presence, where hoping for help falls short of offering it.
So I simply understand that this, also, is life now. Memories built and memories missed. I don’t think, anymore, it’s a matter of importance. This life trumping that one. Just that we’re more aware of our choices.
Had we stayed back home we would still be losing out on memories. We wouldn’t know it and we wouldn’t feel it in the hard way we do here, but I can’t imagine erasing this year of snapshots, and can’t really picture who I’d be right now without them.
Even as I write we drive with my parents through the Austrian Alps, its gray tips peeking through thick blankets of clouds, mysterious and breathtaking. As we’ve spent a wonderful month touring both families through this world of ours sometimes I think, why wouldn’t we live here? It makes so much sense when they are here, when I don’t, at all, feel alone.
But I’m a bit like my eldest son who, as we prepared him for the excitement of his grandparents’ visit, quickly pointed out in his sad, little voice that before too long they also would leave. And I know it too, that some days I’ll look around and ask, instead, why are we here?
I suppose this aspect of life is unchanging here. It touched our very first days and continues even now. It’s the same old bitter and sweet, just a slightly different flavor each month, each day.
When we chose this path I expected hardship, but hoped it would quickly fade. Instead I am learning it changes, morphing and evolving with time.
But bitter and sweet isn’t always such a bad combination, and one year later I’m just beginning to appreciate its distinct taste.