Twenty-three years and three months ago, I saw a field of almost hip-high grass and knew that this was the place to build the house in which our girls would grow up. We built a very comfortable home and moved in, in August of 1993.We did indeed raise our daughters, and a few calves along the way. We planted and played and mowed lots of grass. This is the only home that our younger daughter Sarah has ever known. She went away to college and now lives in an apartment in Hagerstown, but this is her home. I feel her sadness, but the true genesis of adulthood is when you have to leave the garden. Soon, she will be planting a garden of her own.
With Becky and Sarah both out and on their own (to the extent that kids ever are, no matter how far away they live!) it is time to move on to the next chapter of our lives, and that seems to require a new place in which to be. We move in to that new place in Stephenson, Virginia on Friday. As I pack up the house and reflect upon the time we’ve spent here, I have realized something that might surprise you: Memories are over-rated and the here and now is underappreciated.
Somewhat to my surprise, I don’t feel sentimental about leaving. Certainly, there are things that I will miss, but it’s kind of like a trade in baseball: To get something good, you have to give up something good.
“I’ll never forget that as long as I live,” we often say, especially when we are younger.
Yes, you will.
You reach an age where you realize that you don’t remember it all, that it’s impossible to remember it all. Oh, it’s probably floating around inside you somewhere, but there’s a tipping point (40 years old? 50?) at which if you remembered it all, all you’d do all day is remember. As I have aged, I have come to see that what happened yesterday is not nearly as interesting as what’s going on today. Or what will happen tomorrow.
It’s really a matter of supply and demand. When we are young, our yesterdays are quite valuable because there aren’t that many of them and they contain many firsts, such as first kiss, first drive without your parents slamming on the imaginary brake, prom, graduation, and on and on. At this point in my life, however, I have a pretty good supply of yesterdays. That bag full of tomorrows, however, isn’t nearly as full as it used to be, and what once seemed an innumerable supply, could now, I think be counted up pretty easily. To even bother counting the tomorrows, however, is to waste a very precious today.
These five and a half acres are beautiful and we’ve enjoyed so many things here and had so much fun here, but the beauty and the joy and the fun were never really in the house or on the grounds at all. They were in us and all who shared them with us, and they will continue to be in us until we die. Now that I have more yesterdays than tomorrows I begin to suspect that such moments of joy linger even after death. Perhaps, that’s just a wish, but I do not think that it is. I think together, in love, we create something—think of it as an electric wave—that cannot be contained by the physical universe as we understand it. I don’t remember every moment of that joy, but I experienced it and I expect to experience more tomorrow. That’s how I would define eternal life.
Our soon-to-be “old” house at 15938 River Bend Court was a wonderful setting for the laughter, the tears, the quiet reflection; it was a wonderful setting for snowmen and Wiffle ball in the front yard; a place for birthday parties and prom pictures, and yes, a place to play catch. In the end, however, this house merely kept us warm and dry as we lived and grew.
Our story continues and only the setting of this next chapter will change. Of far more interest is what will happen next to the characters in this story of the Gisriel family? Many good things, I think.