A New Normal

January 12, 2014

Lilly and I had grand intentions of using our 3 hour layover in Houston to shop and have dinner together to celebrate her 13thbirthday. Instead –due to flight delays and an insanely long Immigration line- we settled for choking down a sandwich and a quick happy birthday toast – in hot pursuit of not missing her connection to Indiana. There was little time to feel sad as we hustled thru the airport and I didn’t want our last moments together to include me sobbing like a baby and begging her not to go. Not exactly good form.
On the tram before her flight.

Once we got to the gate it went fast –a blur. I hugged her and kissed her face one last time before she walked down the jet way onto the plane. Disappearing all too quickly without even looking back. Then it hit me. I wondered when I would hug her again. When I would get to have another meal with her. I wondered what she was thinking. Right then I wanted to hug her again so bad it hurt inside my chest. I thought my heart was going to explode. My body was frozen and emotionless. Completely numb. I found a seat next to the window and stared at that plane for 40 l-o-n-g minutes until it was wheels up. And then cried. Quietly in that little corner of the giant Houston airport my heart was breaking.

I let her go.
Because I love her that much.

Today I sit here and write this and I still weep. I just want Lilly here with us. There are days like today my heart aches and aches and aches because one of my babies is absent. Because everywhere I look I see her face or I remember how she played with Sabrina and kayaked with me on the weekends. I really miss watching her learn and study. And yes, I even miss the older girls arguing. I think of her each time I feed the animals, which was her job. Her cat, Alley, misses her too. Alley follows me everywhere now and insists on sleeping in my room. She has left a void in our lives that we are all working to fill.

We are all still in transition. Our family feels different. Since it is different. Sabrina asks where Lilly is every single day. Thank heaven for FaceTime and Skype. Emma even asks to talk to her and has openly admitted to missing her sister. Amazing. Lilly’s friends from school have sent me messages telling me they wish she would come back – they say the 7thgrade isn’t the same without her. Even the staff at the Resort ask about her and wonder how she is adjusting to all that snow! There is not a piece of her life here in Belize that doesn’t feel her absence.
Our new normal around the house is surely quieter. Our new normal no longer includes teenage girl fights about whose shirt/dress/underwear belongs to whom. Or whose music is too loud. Or who looked at who “that way” first.  There is less food to prepare, clothes to wash, and far less shampoo to buy. Our new normal is making sure only one student gets to and from school each day, not two. It feels like I am forgetting something when I leave school with only one in the car. Our new normal has a little less laughter.

Our new normal is also fostering an interesting metamorphosis of Miss Emma. The energy she previously used arguing and competing with Lilly is now being channelled into herself as well as connecting with the rest of the family. The new normal involves FaceTime video chats where Sabrina shows Lilly EVERYTHING in her room –one by one. It involves instant messaging to talk about our days instead of doing it over dinner. The new normal is sending  her packages and flowers (yes, more than once in four weeks) to make sure she knows without a doubt she is loved and thought about here in Belize EVERY DAY.

And Lilly’s new normal? I can’t be certain. I do know she is happy and adjusting well. Although she has yet to begin school because they have had huge amounts of snow, she has been for a tour and is excited to pick out her classes this Monday. She is enjoying a room all to herself. She has sent pictures of snowmen and talked about how much fun it is to sled in the snow. My little bird seems to be thriving in her new nest.
We are all a work in progress – working towards accepting our new normal daily routines.

FaceTime screenshot – The view out Lilly’s window in IN, and the view from our lanai in Belize.

Some of my favorite lyrics for my loved ones…

 “I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left

I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get

That you’d find God’s grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything my wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold”

-Rascal Flatts – My Wish Lyrics

Good Friends.
Best Buddies.
Zip Line!
Lilly and Selena!
Happy in the Jungle.

One thought on “A New Normal”

  1. Oh Ashley…….how you bring tears to my eyes! Your writing is lovely……and I SO feel your pain! Even though my children are grown and have children themselves, there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss them. My least favorite thing in this world is not leaving near them……….it rips at my heart.
    Anyway….thanks for sharing! You're a great Mom for giving your Lilly this opportunity! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s