Something that I took for granted so many times before. Absence from home, and all the security that home and community provides, was something I had never really experienced before. I liked home. My kids liked being home.
While in St. Louis, spending months away from our house, we knew we weren't at home. The differences in the environment were, obviously, astounding. Our kids weren't with us during the week. We lived in a hospital. We lived in a duplex. I had to parallel park in front of our house, when I wasn't parking in a dark parking garage. We heard sirens night and day (and we were in a quiet neighborhood.) We didn't ever have complete darkness at night because of all the streetlights. We never saw familiar faces at the grocery store. We were alone in a way we hadn't ever been before. We were alone together.
However, as people do, we became accustomed to our new living arrangements. Although we never preferred that duplex, or that town, we did find ourselves referring to it as home. "We're headed back home..." "We left the medicine at home." "I'll fix supper when we get home."
While in St. Louis, Steven and I relied on ourselves. And our faith. It was primarily the two of us, 24/7, with only a few exceptions, other than when the kids came on the weekends. It was so much different than our lives "before leukemia" where we both went to work, and met other demands of our schedules. And, like our living arrangements, we became accustomed to it.
And now we are home.
Steven joked before leaving St. Louis that he was like a prisoner and that when he got "out", he might not be able to make it in the real world. I had a sneaking suspicion that he would make it just fine.
What I didn't expect was my own issues adjusting.
Having the kids home has been great and the transition felt as if there really wasn't even one. We picked up right where we left off and it felt so good. So...normal.
I have dreaded going into public because I felt odd, and...suspicious. It sounds stupid, and I apologize. I know it is the anxiety talking. However, I worried about people looking at me, and me not being able to recognize the part that they have played in supporting us. So many people have came together and prayed, and offered help, and kind words, and many of those people I don't really know.
And...that bothers me.
I meet someone's eyes and don't want to draw attention to myself, and our situation, by explaining my predicament, yet I wonder if I owe them a "thank you", or if they were someone that I have "spoke" to in a Facebook message, sharing parts of our lives and encouragement. I don't want to appear ungrateful, or stand-offish, and I do want to give back all the love that has been shown, but, sometimes I just want to be invisible because I don't really know what I should do.
Looking back, it now makes me laugh when I think about my self-proclaimed "Facebook rule" that I enforced years ago. I had a strict policy of only friending people that I actually knew, and would actively speak to if I met up with them in Wal-Mart. If you asked, and I accepted, and you didn't speak to me, or at least acknowledge me with a nod, or a wave in public, then I defriended you. I figured if you didn't actually want to be my friend, then you didn't need to be my "friend".
Now, in the light of the last five months, I recognize the change in me, and my "Facebook rule". I have had so many people reach out to me by requesting to be "friends". I know many of these people don't know me, but may know of Steven and his situation. I accepted their request and viewed it as a way to petition for prayers that we were, and still are, desperate for. The irony of the situation is that I am now the one that doesn't acknowledge them because I don't even know who they are. And this bothers me and I want to apologize.
Since being home I have also found that I now have anxiety when I am not with Steven. He has had a few well deserved opportunities to go with relatives and friends to do various things. He should do those things and enjoy his life and the relationships he has with those in it.
However, after being with him, almost constantly for the last five months, I was at a loss. I knew that being with him did not prevent anything from happening to him, because those things are not in my control. However, my mind believes that if I can see him...then I know he is ok, and I don't have to worry about all the "what ifs".
I am gradually starting to cope with this and become more accustomed to it.
(I am sure Steven is thankful for this.)
One thing I hope does not happen is growing accustomed to the fast pace that life seems to throw at us. While in St. Louis, prayer and contemplation was something that we had plenty of time for. Now that we have more responsibilities, I don't want to lose sight of what, and Who, has gotten us this far. I don't know how we could lose sight of it, when I think of what we have been through, but I do know that the world has a way of sucking you in and filling up your time with all the things that it wants you to believe is important.
Let me tell you this, those "things" aren't important.
Faith. Family. Friends. Community.
Those are the things that I want to fill my life up with. Those are the very things that give life LIFE.
Trust me. I've been to the bottom, and I looked around. This world is fleeting. It fades away in the blink of an eye.
Don't grow accustomed to it.
After all, it isn't our home.