The Price of a New Life Is Your Old Life

August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

We spent time with Elise again, today. She has taken us to several of my boy’s doctor appointments. Today it was the chiropractor and the dentist. I joked that I was taking him in for a tune up before getting on the road. We also planned to visit our friend, Maggie, from church. She recently moved into a retirement facility. Maggie has a special place with my boy. He always remembers to pray for her. “Don’t forgeeet! Maggie!”

I was excited to share our project with J’s chiropractor. She knows what a much needed change this is. I knew she would also appreciate the depth of this experience for us, in many ways. I’ll miss the smell of her when she approaches us, her bright face, her warm voice. Dr. Letty has been a gift to us. It was hard to hug her knowing that it was probably the last time. I don’t like to let go. It made me think of a quote by Samuel Shoemaker, the Episcopalian priest who led the American branch of the Oxford Group, “The price of a new life is your old life.”

It’s more than running to something. Whether I wanted to be here or not, we’ve woven our entanglements. We’ve laid down emotional ties to the treasured people we’ve met here. I don’t like seeing people for the last time. As we prepare to embark on this journey, part of the preparation involves saying good-bye. A dear friend of mine, Millie, taught me not to say good-bye. Instead we say, “Later.” She’s a Jehovah’s witness who is confident in “later” and who also doesn’t like the finality of good-bye. The other side of the country is far away. You can’t get around that fact.

Maggie didn’t want to say good-bye when we departed. I know she hoped we’d enjoy a meal with her, but we’d visited a good while and needed to get the boy home. She said she hoped we’d come back before we left. She didn’t want to say good-bye forever, either. I quoted my grandfather, Lupe, “If I no see you more here, I see you over yonder.”  “That’s lovely,” said Maggie. I’ll miss her radiant smile, her obvious beauty even at 91, the easiness of her nature.

When we walked away from her, Maggie stood on her frail legs, watching. She didn’t want to enter the dining hall until she had savored every drop of our visit. She is an intelligent and capable woman. Loss of freedom is painful for her, and she is lonely. I blew her a kiss as we walked through the outer doors, knowing we’d never see her again. “The price of a new life is your old life,” I thought.

I don’t like to perpetuate the myth of birth as painful, but it doesn’t feel like a back rub. As much as I want the new life, the price of giving up the old one is still quite high.

J checked out, from stem to stern. Another rejuvenating visit with Dr. Letty was followed by another perfect report from the dentist. He’s ready for the road. I am trying to emphasize the positive nature of this transformation so that he can look forward to the trip and not getting caught up in the sadness of departure. Still, we will both shed tears as part of this much-needed change. The irreplaceable people that we will miss are worth the heartache. It’s only grief for the loss of their company, their companionship, communion. I just keep telling myself, “If we no more see you here, we see you over yonder.”