So much has happened in the month since I last posted!
The weekend of August 12th, I attended the third annual Camp Widow in San Diego and again, had a fabulous time. It was held at the beautiful Marriott Marquis and Marina, and I was reunited with some of the wonderful friends I made from the first one in 2009, and made even more. I decided not to volunteer this time, and use that weekend for a true vacation. My sister-in-law and her new husband who also live in San Diego kept Jacob and Sydney for the weekend (thank you so much, Brandi and Scott!!). They hung out with their awesome cousins Heather and Trevor, visited with Uncle Greg, got buried in the sand at the beach, climbed on real trains, experienced canoeing for the first time, went for ice cream, attended a festival where they played tug-of-war and other fun games, got body paint, jumped in bounce houses, and in their down time, Sydney played dress up and Jacob's very loose top front tooth came out!
Not long after we returned from San Diego, we went to Buffalo for the second time since our move to California. Getting there was an adventure in itself... We flew from LA to JFK, and were supposed to take a connecting flight from JFK to Buffalo. All flights into Buffalo, Rochester, and the surrounding areas were cancelled due to storms, and there were no flights available until the next day. I ended up driving from JFK to Buffalo. That's the WAY abbreviated version, but someone please remind me to write the full one - it's a cool story!
This trip was much different than the last... Last year when I went back, I didn't really even want to be there. I was scared to death of going back, and while I was there, I wasn't really "there." This time, I could not wait to go back.
When I moved to California, I couldn't get away fast enough. I needed to be far away from everything- the house, the town, the people, the places we went to.... everything. I couldn't continue living the life that Matt and I had together without him there. Since my life had changed so drastically with losing Matt, EVERYTHING needed to change. It might not work for everyone, but it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I didn't escape the pain of his loss, and it didn't make me miss him less, but it made going about the daily motions more bearable, and allowed the kids and I to have new experiences that we never would have had otherwise being on the opposite coast. The sunshine and warmth was healing, I made wonderful new friends, and was closer in proximity to my brother and Matt's immediate family. Up until maybe six months ago, I didn't even have the capacity yet to miss anyone but Matt, so it was easy to leave.
About a month or so before I went to Buffalo for this most recent trip, I got the crazy idea that I wanted to move back. I don't even know where it came from, but it hit me like a brick and has been an overwhelming pull that I haven't been able to ignore. When it first hit me, I really wondered why I was torturing myself with the thought. I found myself agonizing over the decision. I obsessed over the pros and cons and drove myself completely nuts. At first it was pretty 50/50, but the more I thought about it and was as objective as I could be, it became very clear.
It was almost exactly the same process I went through when I made the quick decision to move out here. Moving back to Buffalo makes total sense for so many reasons... The very things I ran away from are the things I need around me now. The kids and I will be close to our original support system on a regular basis - people we have history and roots with. Shared history with Matt. The places we used to go, things we used to do.... Familiarity. The public school system is one of the best in the country - and it's free. The cost of living is a fraction of what it is out here. It's a small, safe, tight-knit community. I won't get slammed with parking tickets everywhere I go... ;) Yes, there's snow and lots of rain, but there's good and bad everywhere you go. For me, however, the good far outweighs the bad by moving back. It's also been pointed out to me by several people that this decision shows how far I've come in the healing process. I've included the kids in this decision, and they are completely on board which makes me even more confident.
Do I regret selling the home Matt and I built together? No. Even if I stayed in Buffalo, I would have had a horrible time keeping up with three acres of grass to mow, and a 200 foot driveway to plow in the winter. There's no way I could keep up the house and property to the standards that Matt set for it. Visitors were very infrequent in the winter since it was likely they would get stuck in the sloped driveway between the snow and ice. I had to pack up the kids in the van and load it up with bikes and anything else we needed to go for a bike ride in town, or for a walk, or to go to the park. I would have felt guilty selling our home only to move a few miles away in town where we would be within walking distance to all those things (and more).
Do I regret moving out here? Hell no. I honestly don't think I could have made it to this point had I not. I'm so grateful that we were able to be here for two years.
I've signed a contract for a sweet little house in an ideal location in that nearby town, contingent on the sale of my home in California which is now on the market. I'm hoping it sells ASAP so I can move back to Buffalo and not lose the opportunity to get into that beautiful little piece of heaven. I truly believe that Matt has had his hand in this whole process and is guiding us all the way. Thank you, My Love!
A big difference between this trip to Buffalo and the last one was that I felt "awake." It sounds so cliche, but when Matt died, a big part of me died with him. It's only recently that I feel like I'm starting to come back to life. I actually enjoyed being at the 3rd Run for Row this year. This time, I had the wherewithal to thank the volunteers for all their hard work, and the participants for being there and offering their support. I really enjoyed visiting with everyone instead of just resenting the reason why we were there.
I had an experience in Buffalo that shed some light for me as to just how it is that I feel more "awake." I won't get into detail as to exactly what that experience was, but during that experience, I felt myself shut down to a half-conscious mode that allowed me to get through it less painfully. I realized at that moment, that is how I've been living my life for the past two and a half years. In half-conscious mode. It's nice to be among the living again. I also realized I've forgotten even more than I thought I might have in the year and a half since Matt's death... I seriously suspect I have some sort of amnesia associated with trauma.
I got so much accomplished on this trip - negotiated the contract for our new home in Buffalo, listed my house in California, picked up paperwork for Jacob's new school, put Sydney on the waiting list at the preschool that Jacob attended before we moved away, had the house inspected with an awesome report, went to a benefit for a young former co-worker and friend who's battling an aggressive form of brain cancer and doing amazingly well, attended the Third Annual Run for Row, had lots of fun parties and visits with friends and family, and even experienced a 5.0 earthquake! Yes, in Buffalo!
After the Run for Row, I visited the place where Matt died. A lot of people might not understand my need to be there, but in a strange way, it makes me feel closer to him by being in the place where he was last alive. It doesn't need to make sense to anyone but me.
Please pray for a quick sale - I'm ready to go home!