Funny, isn't it? Lori Does Maryland?
That was supposed to be a very sarcastic title. When we moved from North Carolina to Maryland, I was not happy.
I liked North Carolina. No, I loved North Carolina. I did not want to move.
And, growing up in NoVA (Northern Virginia for all of you not-so-lucky-enough-to-be-from-there), my mentality was always, "Why cross the Woodrow Wilson if you didn't have to?"
So, Lori Does Maryland was my attempt at 'navigating' that new and different military assignment. I mean, really, I'd never even heard of Test Pilot School.
Yes, I realize I am a poor, poor excuse for a pilot's wife.
I didn't bother changing it when we moved back to North Carolina. Contrary to the, "Test Pilot School is a career killer and you'll never leave Maryland," flung at us all the time, we DID leave Maryland and TPS was certainly NOT a career killer. And though, enough had happened in my life that made me think I never, ever wanted to leave Maryland again, I was happy that if I HAD to move, it was back to North Carolina. Safe. Familiar. A fun two (ahem, three)-year vacation!
And it was. It was also supposed to lead us back to Maryland...where me "doing" Maryland would again be applicable.
But it's not. We have moved to Jupiter, Florida. A crazy, unheard of, totally not-on-our-radar job that is a really great opportunity for John and a very different one for me. No military base. No military community. Thankfully, a few people I know and love, and that helps, but otherwise? Totally, totally far from any comfort zone.
A few weeks ago, we came back to Maryland to clean out our storage space. THREE years of storing stuff and I realized I could have BOUGHT everything in that storage shed new already! We were only here (I say here because I am currently typing this from Maryland...John has some work and I am able to visit with friends!) for a day and a half, and it was a whirlwind trip.
It was also the first time since we've left that I did NOT visit Matthew's grave whenever we came back to Maryland.
It stung. I told myself that we'd be back in a few weeks and Luke had been such a trooper traveling and I didn't even have any flowers...all excuses.
The reality was that I just didn't want to cry. I knew I would if I went and I didn't want to cry. I was already dealing with an emotional little boy who didn't want to leave the only home he really knew (North Carolina) and trying to tell myself that jumping into the total unknown was going to be GOOD for me...but really, I was overwhelmed with emotions that I've not had in several years.
I cried as we passed the hospital. I cried as we passed the funeral home. I cried as I walked in the baby aisle at Target. I cried as I drove into our neighborhood. I cried when I drove into our driveway.
I was all cried out.
I told John that several years ago, I didn't want to move, but God knew better. I don't think people really understand that when I went back to Shady Grove, Matthew had died only 3 months before. When I got pregnant with Luke? He'd only been dead five months.
Five months is all I had to grieve. To process. To breathe.
Five months. I know that it's nearly been five YEARS now...but I feel like I only had five months to do some really hard griefwork and then? I was lucky enough to get pregnant again and lived joyfully every second for my sweet little Luke. When we moved? It was as if God was saying, "You need to go away. Go and see how sweet life can be. Let me show you that happiness still is yours. Go. Go away. When you are strong enough, I'll bring you back and you can continue growing as you live, breathe and grieve. You just aren't strong enough now."
He was right. I wasn't. The last three years in North Carolina have been nothing short of amazing. Amazing relationships and adventures and mostly? Balm for my heart. North Carolina is where my sweet little third son's heart beat for most of his life...and for the last time. North Carolina reminded me that the life I live is so extreme--extreme joy and extreme sorrow--but that they both coexist because they've become part of me. Ask anyone. I'm pretty complex.
Moving to Florida was a surprise, though. And still...when cleaning out the storage space, I heard it. Loud and clear. "You'll come back here. Just not now. You're not strong enough yet. You've done well. I'm pleased that you are working your way back to FULLY trusting me. I understand you're not there. I understand why. I understand you need more time. I'm giving it to you. Take it. Use it. Grow with it. Look for the opportunities I'm going to give you. Grow. Enjoy. Heal. And then, come back...bravely. With more strength and courage and determination than you've ever had.
Because you'll need it."
I feel like I've been lucky enough to not have constant triggers in my day-to-day life. Moving has allowed me space and the pleasure of living in a pseudo-sort of denial and I won't lie. I'm grateful. It's allowed me to grieve at my own pace and in my own reasoning without being FORCED into things because I couldn't escape landmarks or people or whatever.
And I feel like I've been given two more years to get stronger. Braver. More ready to deal with things that I only had a mere five months to deal with when Matthew died. I realize that by the time we move back to Maryland, he'll have been gone nearly seven, maybe eight years...to many, for me to do griefwork or face things I've been able to avoid for years will seem very odd.
As if I've not moved on. Or will be dwelling. Or whatever.
Moving out of comfort zones has also given me some pretty thick skin. People can think whatever they want to of me. I don't really care.
I know what strength is. I know from where it comes. And, if I'm being given it in the form of a few more years away from things my heart may be too weak to deal with right now?
Taking it. Not feeling one.bit.guilty, either.
So, while I considered changing the name to just "Lori Does," I'm holding off. Because no matter where I am....trust me. I'm always, always, always 'doing' Maryland.