Updated: Oct 17
By Theresa Anthony, author of Hope Springs from a Mother's Broken Heart
We have all heard that saying that goes something like, “No matter where you go, you always take yourself with you.” Having lived long enough to agree with this sentiment, I have also learned recently that change can do you a world of good. Even if you do drag your past along with you, staking out a new life in an unfamiliar setting can be medicinal.
This summer I made such a change in my own life. I moved from my home state of California to take up residence in the state of Tennessee. Not brave enough to be the bold trailblazer on my own, I simply followed the lead of my eldest daughter. Her little family made the move to Tennessee a year ago, and I hitched my wagon to theirs about two months ago.
As I write this, I am outside on my adorable front porch, sitting on a rocker and gazing out at the glorious display of autumn colors right across the street. Brilliant orange and shades of saffron spark a sense of awe at the wonders of nature. Birds and butterflies I have never seen in California bring big smiles to my face. My recently adopted rescue dog prances back and forth in the front yard searching for something to chase (he’s a coonhound named Morgan). Just now, a little rain shower adds the perfect touch of ambiance to the scene. I absolutely love it here.
It’s true that we tote the baggage of our life experiences right along with us when we relocate, no matter how far we have ventured from home. All the collective joy and pain we have accrued in our lifetime is etched there on our hearts, minds, and souls—something a new zip code certainly won't wipe clean.
I didn’t realize, however, how much I truly needed a change of scenery until I had actually arrived here, some 2000 miles away from home. Back home, no matter where I was or what I was doing, every corner I turned held a reminder of what I had lost. I wasn’t even aware of the impact it had on me, absorbing those mini triggers all day, every day, as I went about my daily routine.
But moving away has been kind of like that old Etch-a-Sketch toy I grew up with in the sixties. With some deft turns of the knobs, I am creating something brand new; experiences and visual scenes that have nothing to do with the life I led in California. I don’t drive past my son’s high school or his favorite restaurant or the parks where he played baseball. Here there are no visual reminders of my past as I drive to the market, the gym, an event, or church. I find that incredibly freeing.
All that pain inside isn’t ever going to miraculously vanish, and I wouldn’t want it to. The loss of my son is now part of me, so if it vanished that would mean I’d be gone, too. No, that ache in my heart will always be with me, no matter where I am. And it’s okay, because it reminds me of how deeply I loved my boy, and that love is what I brought with me to Tennessee.
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