Hearts are funny things, part 1


I remember my first real heartbreak- A boy I cared deeply for didn’t feel the same about me, and I thought my heart would shrivel slowly until it was nothing within me.  Of course, my heart beat all the way through to my next teenage love, just as it would through many humbling trials in later years- marriage, loss, parenting, a move away from the Texas home where we had become us…

This is the only way I know to explain what has happened to our family these last two years.  When we left our home, Matt and I were sad, nostalgic, but not brokenhearted.  We knew we had so much to look forward to, and we felt certain we were following the right path for us.  Still, we weren’t really prepared for the grief our children would face, and watching your kids hurt is like watching that same heart be ripped right from your chest.

Levi’s grief was most vocal. “People here don’t know me, mom.  They don’t pick me to play games at recess, and I don’t have any friends.”  Levi, my most positive, cheerful boy, was sad.  Every time he’s sad, it’s like a kick in the gut.  But making friends comes easy to Levi, and by the time the snow fell, he had nearly recovered.  The snow cinched the deal- sledding and snow forts, snowball fights, and snowshoeing in the moonlight had him converted.  Now he’ll tell anyone who will listen that winter is his favorite season.

Eliza was the first to make me wonder if we had made a mistake.  She would cry whenever someone spoke of home- and randomly, when something reminded her of the only yard or bedroom she had ever known.  At school, I watched even the teachers respond with uncertainty to her unpredictability and impulsiveness.  Sometimes I would cry with her, knowing she’s harder to love than the others, and that we had left the place where the people who had held her and watched her from birth had accepted her eccentricities and seemed to love her like we did. She didn’t make a real, come-over-to-play-often friend until last month, truly.

But it was Sam who especially struggled in a new, strange place, where she had to leave her shell to make new friends; and it was Sam who stretched my heart the most.  Our  timid little bird with the sometimes sassy intellect wasn’t sure when or how to make herself  heard in class, and some of her grades suffered.  She didn’t tolerate all the “new” with the ease she was accustomed to, constantly compared what she was experiencing to what she had before, and became angry- I think with herself as much as with us.  I swear she was mad until she had experienced every season at school and home and returned to school for the second year, when it seemed she finally found her footing.  Looking back, I know her battle was the hardest, but at the time, I thought her heinous mood was just the teen years striking early.  I entrenched myself in a needless, angry power struggle when all she really needed was some love and support.  To date this is probably the parenting choice I regret the most, but in spite of my mistakes, she’s settled back into the kid I thought I’d lost- a sweet, talented spirit with a little spice to keep me on my toes.

Then there were the two of us.  Despite the disequilibrium the kids were experiencing, Matt loved his work and I loved mine.  We were where we knew we were supposed to be, and we were content.  Nothing could have prepared us for the shock that was coming…

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