It’s that day. It’s that day I never thought would come and now is here too soon. Life is so strange that way. I have despaired this day would ever come. I have prayed for it. I have cried for it. I have packed my things a million times in my head and imagined how it would be when I turn the key in the apartment door for the last time.
In a couple hours, when I turn the key, it really won’t be the last time. There will be one more trip with family crew in tow. We will empty the apartment to the walls and carpet. Our South Dakota acquired furniture will jostle in the back of a U-Haul to its new home in Kingston Springs. It will be such a stressful trip that the emotions of leaving will be hidden under the rapid movements of people hurrying perhaps to beat a storm, get back to work, and life. Maria, my youngest grandchild will keep us distracted as she chatters and seeks attention.
I’ve thought of this day so many times. It’s here. I have written so many wonderful blogs as I’ve laid in bed in the early morning or tossed and turned avoiding sleep at night. The inspiration will come again. I will put those thoughts on paper. I still have things to say about the Storehouse of Snow.
I think I’ve been silent on this blog for the last few days because I’m in pain. It’s not the same pain that I struggled with for months and years during this sojourn to the crucible. This pain is a good pain. It is the pain of evaluation and reflection. It is the pain of parting with friends. It is the pain of realizing that when you face the truth, the truth is never what it seems. I’ve said before, it never really was about South Dakota. It was about me.
Yesterday we had lunch with some of the people who work with my husband. His support staff and a new hire that is a friend of mine. We chatted over food. He mostly with his support staff, me with my friend. It was an odd but pleasant lunch. When time came to say good-bye, there were a few hugs. His main support person cried. My husband patted her on the shoulder as they disengaged from a farewell hug. He said what I’ve heard many times when I’ve cried. Be strong, be strong. Those words never seemed comforting to me, but I wondered they brought her any comfort for her. I hope so.
My next stop was Wal-Mart. Yes, Brookings Wal-Mart, home of much of angst and ire over rudeness and unfriendliness. I remembered not to smile and say excuse me. I will have to work on my manners when I get home. But my perspective is different. I didn’t get angry. From there I went to McDonald’s for a last un-coffee with a friend. Neither of us drank coffee and I had nothing.
As I walked in the door, a woman, also named Joyce who cleared tables and used to give us free cookies was waiting for a ride. She greeted me and said: “Are you the one who is leaving? Are you leaving Brookings? Why are you leaving? Don’t you like us?” I was stunned. I guess my friend had told her while she was waiting. Maybe Joyce asked about me. We hadn’t been to McDonalds for a long time. Perhaps she missed us.
As I composed myself to answer her, I thought there was a time if I had been truthful I would have said “NO, I hate this place and can’t wait to leave. Leaving couldn’t come soon enough.” But I’ve changed. Something has changed inside of me. That’s what crucibles do, they mark you, the cause you deep despair, and then they change you. To Joyce, I replied, we have family. We have kids and family in Tennessee, we are just going home. She smiled and said “we’ll miss you.”
I never thought I’d feel this way. And I certainly never thought I’d admit it, but I will miss South Dakota.