I went to Nashville a week or so ago. While I was there moving my son to a new place, and checking out a school for my other son I did a bit of reminiscing. For some reason they didn’t know that Bill and I lived just outside of Nashville over 20 years ago. I couldn’t imagine how that fact had not come out until this time; I mean Aaron has been there for 4 years. I thought we had discussed this topic, but evidently I was wrong…so we spent some time chatting about our days there. It was later, in my motel room that I felt the familiar tug of the Holy Spirit. I realized it was not a coincidence that the subject had come up. I recognized the motion of God, putting his finger on my heart.
When the boys were busy taking in the town, I felt the draw towards my past pulling me. Compelling me really. I had the urge to go find the little cottage we used to live in, so I drove north towards Greenbrier, the small town where we lived for 8 months. I don’t know what I was expecting to find, I just knew I had to go.
What I saw was not the least bit familiar to me. The town, the roads, the stores…none of it. I couldn’t even find the road we lived on, much less the cottage. I went to the restaurant where I used to work that was brand new back then, it was vacant and dilapidated. I felt nothing. It was like I was in a fog where some images are hazy and others are gone all together. There were no twinges, no feelings, just a numbness and a factual knowledge that I used to live in this place. I was thinking I had imagined the compelling feeling to make this drive, that I had missed God altogether on this one. Until I drove back south and noticed something odd…drops on my shirt. Where was this wetness coming from? Tears. Not just a few. Running down my cheeks. Only I didn’t feel them. No feeling at all. I have never had that happen before. It was as if my eyes were crying and the rest of me was in no way connected. It definitely got my attention because I suspected that my eyes knew something which my heart had buried deeply.
Once I got home I spent some time talking with the Lord. I asked him to tell me about my tears and he confirmed what I already supposed, they were tears of grief. I did not feel them, because at the time we lived in TN, I was in survival mode which does not allow for feeling…or falling apart. It was just months after Bill’s accident and my life was extremely difficult. I was trying to put our lives back together…to find how to build a marriage after a catastrophic, life-changing trauma that leaves your husband in a childlike state. I remember as if it was a dream. A one bedroom cottage in a pasture. A post office. A restaurant. A mall. That’s about it.
I asked the Lord why those things and nothing else and he said, “The cottage was important because you and Bill rebuilt your lives there. You tried to find a new normal. The restaurant was important because it supplied your financial needs, but also because you were learning to serve…something you would have to do in order to make your marriage work. Giving up your needs to serve others…you were in training for more than being a waitress. The post office because it was your window to your old world, and it brought news of love, and gifts of support to you. The mall because that was the only place Bill found where he felt comfortable. Walking circles in the mall was the one place he could feel somewhat normal. Those are the only places that mattered for this season. That’s why it is all you remember.”
Then he said one more thing which struck fear into my heart.
“It is time to tell the story. All of it…it is the appointed time.”
I must say I wrestled with God on this one, but ultimately he won. As usual. And so I will begin to tell you a story. It is not Bill’s story which I have told until this point. It is my story. It will be hard to tell…and maybe hard to read as well…but it is the appointed time, so I will tell it. From the beginning…