I have unwittingly discovered a few things about myself this past weekend:
1. I am claustrophobic
2. I married into a wonderfully eccentric family
3. I don't like being uncomfortable
4. I can move forward, even in the midst of some pretty major fall-aparts
Let me explain these discoveries. This past weekend Dustin and I went on an adventure with the Mahlers. My father-in-law decided we were going to live it up in Leavenworth the Clark Griswold way (circa, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation). He rented an RV, complete with shameless company advertizing stamped all over it (there was no need to question exactly who we rented it from) and a gypsy caravan of neighbors and friends to enjoy the weekend with us. Now, my Father-In-law goes nowhere without all of the major essentials for luxury, including enough gourmet food to feed an army, party lights, extra t.p., music for every venue, beer glasses, your wine glasses, plastic cups for everyday use, and a couple of steins in honor of Oktoberfest, as well as french press coffee to greet us in the mornings. We were prepared for camping, gorging, imbibing and being quite merry.
Our first night was all about the drive, and what a beautiful drive that was. My little sister-in-law and her friend singing away, sometimes arguing, sometimes squealing, sometimes getting lost in giggle fits. Dustin and I sitting opposite them, sometimes talking, sometimes frantically taking pics of gorgeous scenery, sometimes lost in quiet. Once we arrived at the campground it was truly a Clampet style madness, barking dogs included, to getting everything set up for the festivities. Dustin and I were relegated to the loft sleeping area of the RV, which meant you had exactly 2 feet of space between your nose and the roof of the vehicle. This is where I discovered my claustrophobia....., at 2 in the morning. Now, if you have every experienced this acute feeling of being trapped you will understand why I suddenly woke up in a panic, not able to breathe. This is why my husband is my hero. He got out of bed with me..., climbed over our sleeping neighbors, walked me to the spooky bathroom (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!), held me while I cried, talked me out of panic, prayed with me, then helped me climb back into the loft where I spent the rest of the night wide awake. You can understand why I wasn't quite prepared for what followed the next day, which brings us to our next unwitting discovery about myself, (in case you forgot..., I don't like being uncomfortable).
The whole reason we were in Leavenworth, in an RV, in October was to celebrate my Father-in-Law running in a half marathon (which he did splendidly). Once our entire mad-cap, gypsy, Clampet-Griswold crew met up at the finish line we decided to celebrate in style at the Oktoberfest party in the downtown area of Leavenworth. Dustin and I took the mini-van to act as a shuttle to those who may want to leave earlier than the rest, or stay later than the rest. Poor cell reception and the fact that we didn't really know our way around Leavenworth meant that Dustin and I were outside the beer garden with the pot smokers, elderly Korean ladies, shuttle bus waiters, and frat cats, waiting for a sign from anyone that we might know from our party. We waited an hour. Then, an hour and half. By this time, my freckled red-headed step-child skin was turning a nice shade of boiled lobster (Seriously...., sunshine, 72 degrees, in October...., in Washington, c'mon!). Now, I would say that I am a social person..., I like people, and I really like to watch people, but after seeing the umpteenth crew of college kids in lederhosen and skanky barmaid dresses, my veneer of pleasentry started to wear thin. Again, this is why my husband is my hero. He heard my harrumphs of impatience and displeasure and decided not to follow suit, but continued to stay upbeat and hopeful that somehow we would eventually connect with our fellow Clampets and Griswolds.
Yes, yes...., we finally did find our pals and re-connected in the family friendly area of the festival (duh)...., which brought about another one of those fall apart moments. There were children. Lots of beautiful, laughing, happy, screaming, crying, running, jumping, leaping, tumbling, tantrum-throwing, head-back giggling, ice cream cone eating, candy throwing, playground scrambling, children. Pregnant moms pushing strollers, dads piggy-backing toddlers, infants, grandparents...., the whole shebang. And there was Dustin and Mariam, who had wild dreams of experiencing just this sort of Mahler Madness with our Edyth. Pushing her in the killer pram my mom bought for her, smiling as strangers coo'ed over her cuteness, holding her when the crowds started to make her fussy. Being Dad. Being Mom. And loving every precious moment of that gift called "parenting". Fall aparts commence.
By the time we made it back to the RV I was in a fine emotional state of not-so-hidden tears and feeling thoroughly isolated, misunderstood and lonely. This time it wasn't Dustin I needed to hold me. I knew it was time to let my Father hold me, so off I went to take a very hot shower. Luckily, I had the campground shower/bathroom facilities to myself and I took full advantage of the alone time to literally cry out to my God in sorrow......, and in walks my mother-in-law. She immediately asks if I'm ok and for a split second I think I might just blow her off with a, "I'm ok", but I felt like God said, "Why not Mariam? Why not be honest?"
So, I follwed His advice. I told her how hard it was to be around kids sometimes, how much I missed my daughter, and how lonely it feels to be in this place of sorrow. She replied with exactly what I needed her to say, "I can't imagine how hard this must be for you, I was wondering if you would be alright with all the kids." I know. Not an epic statement, but it made me feel validated and cared for. I'm beginning to see how important it is for me to feel like somebody out there knows how hard this is and isn't judging me for still being sad. I am also seeing how important it is that I remain vulnerable and open to those who love me the most, hence, being honest with my mother in law instead of trying to hide my obvious emotions. God has surrounded Dustin and I with so many very loving family and friends for such a time as this. They are our covering in this world, they are a part of the healing process God is walking beside us through. Again, I am amazed by His faithfullnes and His gentleness with me. Thank you Lord.
This brings us to the final phase of my weekend of unwitting self-discovery, and it starts with a wedding. On a Monday afternoon. Bliss is being able to spend a day, a weekday, with Dustin, watching friends get married and then eating some pretty fab food while looking out onto the Puget Sound's (note picture above) early fall sunset. My cousin took that picture of us, and what my cousin doesn't know, was that at that exact moment I came to the discovery that Dustin and I have a hope. A slow building, but steady growing hope that we will one day get to have another child. This child won't replace Edyth and won't erase Edyth. This child will be Edyth's little sibling and will get to learn about her and love her as the bossy older sister they never got to know but will one day meet in Heaven. I am filled with the joy that only comes from knowing and resting in the Lord's plan and the Lord's love. I prayed with Dustin later on that night that, as I went to my Father's lap as a child, that I could continue to go to my Father's lap as a grown woman and be cradled in love, innocence and compassion. I know now that I can move forward without saying goodbye to Edyth, she will always be a part of me and a part of our family, but I can look ahead and see that there is joy in new children for Dustin and I. Thank you Lord, for the sunset of sorrow for my Edyth, but also for the new horizons of another child/children in our future.