The year is 1987 and I’m 19 and pregnant with our first child.
What an absolutely different sort of feeling it was – inexpressible really – the day the baby first moved in my tummy. Though at first it began with a very slight somersault only discernible by the feeling that I had just gone down the biggest hill of a roller coaster, it was something that sent tingles through my whole body and thrilling little pulses to the tips of my toes and fingers each time it happened. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I had finally felt him moving! It seemed an eternity after that first time until I felt it again a few weeks later. Waiting until someone else could feel him moving took forever! How nice it was to be able to share that by putting someone’s hand on my tummy and having them smile along with me though I’m quite sure they weren’t getting the total effect of this movement like I was with my whole body tingling each time. How reassuring it was when I could feel my little baby moving inside me every day letting me know that all was well.
This is what EXCITEMENT AND SERENITY feel like.
The year is 1989 and at 13.5 months, the baby begins to walk on his own.
He is moving where he wants to go and into EVERYTHING! We watch proudly and I call everyone I know to tell them of this fine event. Of course, no one else has ever had such a clever child who has learned to walk! How much easier it is not to have to carry him everywhere! I can get used to this walking business easily.
Pretty soon, it’s not enough to get where he wants to go – now, he wants to get there quickly. He begins then to run, moving himself even faster toward his goals. How exciting!
This is what PRIDE feels like.
The year is 2008. The baby is now 20 years old.
It was just before 1.00a when I bolted upright in bed. My eyes were wide open and I was in a semi-panic mode – goosebumps all over, muscles tense, every nerve in my body on high-alert. I wasn’t thinking yet as I had been soundly asleep, but with every core of my being I knew I had to get up and MOVE! My body was totally tense. Moving only by sheer instinct, I put my feet on the floor and scuttled into the little alcove in the hall right outside our bedroom. The thoughts in my head now were, “Move! Move! Get moving! You have to move,” over and over. I might have said it aloud a few times. I put my back, hands and arms flat up against the wall behind me and tried to make the space between the wall and my body as small as possible. I stayed there against the wall ramrod straight for quite a few minutes. And then, as suddenly as it came, it ended – my goosebumps disappeared, my muscles relaxed, and I felt calm again. I stood there a few minutes more and then went back into bed. I immediately fell back to sleep.
In the morning, I woke up to an e-mail from my older son. He was in a summer program at a university in the Midwest. His e-mail reported that overnight the university had been hit by a tornado. He was checking in so we didn’t worry if we heard about it on the news. He said he was alone in his office when it hit. He wrote, “I knew I needed to move when I realized the window was going to break. The rain and wind had been beating against it for some time, but all of a sudden, it started beating so hard that I knew it would break. That’s when I went out to the long, concrete basement hall with the janitors, other refugees from the tempest. I stood against a wall there with the janitors and listened to the radio for half an hour, until the tornadoes had dissipated.” Fifty feet from the front door, a car had been flipped onto its back. The university had over $20,000,000.00 in damage from the storm. But, hearing him say he “needed to move” and “stood against a wall,” peaked my curiosity. Later, we were talking about all this, figured out the time change, and knew that I must have awakened in my panic at the same moment he was out there living through the tornado.
This is what CONNECTION feels like.
The year is 2010. The baby is now 22.
It has been a heck of a few weeks around here. Two weeks ago, we sat in the stands and watched our boy graduate from college. Sitting next to him at the ceremony in her matching graduation robe was his soon-to-be wife. Thirteen days later, we watched these two kids get married. Now, a week later, here I am standing in my basement surrounded by hundreds of boxes filled with wedding presents, old teddy bears, cookie jars, and the million other tidbits that make up the things that can’t possibly be left behind when newlyweds are moving across the country. The movers are due to arrive at any moment and the kids will follow via airplane tomorrow.
I have been keeping an eye on these boxes for the past few weeks as they started to show up slowly, one load at a time, and then in more of a frenzy once the wedding was done and the arrival of the moving truck drew closer. I monitored all the boxes coming in and used packing tape to further protect some of them. I arranged them artfully in the basement, section by section, being the great organizer that I am. One night, an unzipped duffle bag showed up and when I picked it up it rattled jarringly! I peeked in and there were a bunch of ceramic mugs just tossed in there unprotected! No way would those make a cross-country move like that. I took them all out, wrapped them in bubble wrap, and repacked them in a box. These possessions and boxes would go out into the world with the best chance I could give them. One day, we had a very hard rain with high winds. As it’s typical in western PA to have a bit of water show up in your basement sometimes during storms like this, I ran down to check on the boxes. All was well, but I moved them nearer the center of the room and put them up on bricks anyway, just in case. I was the guardian of the boxes and no harm would come to them on my watch.
Soon enough, the day was upon us. I woke up early and, as usual, immediately went to check on the boxes. Boxes were fine. The truck arrived an hour early. In came three strangers – big men. I showed them where the boxes were and they cheerfully started hefting and shifting the boxes into their large truck. I stood there and watched my boxes disappear one by one. The pile was shifting at an alarming rate. My stomach dropped and I got sort of dizzy. Before I knew it, I was standing there bereft in the middle of my basement with only a few boxes left to be shifted into the truck. Tears were streaming down my face. I think it set in then and there as I cried freely in front of strangers….my boy was moving forward and I was not going along for the ride.
This is what LOSS feels like.
The scenarios above are a kaleidoscope of emotional perspectives on moving. In life, movement is essential and unavoidable. It’s one of the only sure things. The reactions to the movement may vary at different junctures, but as Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle…to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”