We pulled into our new apartment complex with the van packed full of goodies from IKEA and COSTCO, our 3 beating, eager hearts, and a whole lot of courage.
That was it.
That’s what landed in the inaugural babe cave just 14 months ago, night one.
Just our beating hearts of courage, lots of good snacks to last us a solid year or two and IKEA loot, and two of my closest sister-friends volunteering to sleep on an air mattress in the empty living room who came to help us settle in and …build beds.
We watched our first Emerald Coast sunset as locals, ate pizza on the floor in the dining room, blasted Green Day and for bed I made the girls and I a pallet of blankets and pillows in their room and we camped it for that first night.
I didn’t have any furniture but my TV and dining room table during our first few weeks, from our life together with Shayne. I sold it all off before I departed Houston right after Mother’s Day.
And began our brand new life here in Florida, completely from scratch.
Built everything you can see and feel now occupying our space, from zero.
Curated and created our little cocoon, as time pressed on, weaving this net of safety around ourselves. I became a mama bear, fiercely protecting our mental well-being and happiness with a strength I didn’t know I ever had, or would need.
I filled our home with necessities, but my primary goal was to create a normal. Invent our new normal that felt good and safe and calm and peaceful.
I had no one here to catch us and settle us in when we arrived. I just knew, no matter what, this was it. Because I wanted it to be. I wanted it too damn bad to let any fear overcome the freedom I felt making this decision to move us here. Be here. All in.
We had just arrived, picked up my keys from the leasing office and unloaded some stuff into our new apartment, and headed straight to the beach, which was less than 5 miles down the road. Do not pass go, get our feet in the sand, it was imperative we catch this sunset. (And if you have come to visit us you know, its become sort of a babe cave tradition, if you’re visiting and staying with us… your first night is booked… beach + sunset + pizza).
As the sun melted into the horizon and the moon slid high into the sky, I wasn’t doubting the decision for a second. I haven’t. At all. Not one moment have I thought to myself, “Shit. I should have stayed in Houston.” My entire family, life-long friends who had just pulled me out of the shittiest trench of my life all there, even that…
Not one.time. did I doubt this move.
I was just indescribably heartbroken Shayne was not here to sit with me to see our little dream of “someday” come true. Although my heart was breaking, I felt freedom and hope. I was still here. I was still making this life happen, I didn’t really know how. But there I was. Starting over. For once in my life, dictating the how and where and when, all purposeful.
Looking back on that day and moment, I am surprised even now, still, at how it has all unfolded. How I kept smiling. How I made decisions so absolutely. And those, having been the best ones I have made. The important things have a way of rising to the surface during times of crisis, don’t they? Your core desires have a way of pushing themselves to the front of the line.
So leaving the last post open for interpretation, the best part is… in less than 24 hours, we are the thankful and blessed recipients of welcoming two more courageous and beating hearts into our space. Gathering around us more love.
Huddling together, and pressing on. Holding each others hearts, because we belong to each other now.
This space, our space, the one I initially created and built up around us and have protected, out from under the shadow of devastating heartbreak and grief… is now receiving our boys from Michigan. They’re on their way to the beach, to the babe cave, for good.
No more rendezvousing in Toledo. Unless we decide to fly up there together for round three from the Destin airport.
But this hefty decision, we mulled over. And over. And talked for hours on end about and around and through. Our 3 little humans, their well-being, at the center of these conversations.
Its pretty amazing to me that we both have had such different, but similarly soul-enriching experiences here at the coast. The very same beach, different times. I came here in 2009 to marry Shayne and left, hoping I would someday come back and live here. And by someday, I thought when I was old and gray and deserved it. He was here on two occasions, life-ing and working. Both of us left a piece of ourselves here, leaving our markers on the timeline, completely unaware at those separate times, when and how we would return and under the circumstances. Pure kismet. Maktub.
So this decision has been weeks in the making. I feel like we have been talking about it for years, they way we’ve tenderized this thing. Thankful though. For every conversation we exhausted this in, stretching and pulling on scenarios and our concerns.
Every expression of our mutual excitement, nerves, fear, joy, doubts, hopes, anxiety… all necessary to reach the juncture we’re at now.
If there was a rational fear or concern, we talked about it, around it and through it.
We understand and acknowledged the implications. The consequences. And went head on into it all, planning accordingly.
And ultimately came to this choice, this decision, because it honors us.
And the life we are still here to show up for and live with our little people.
Everyone else is living their lives with their person and their purpose. Why not us?
There is no playbook. No timeline. No blue print. For any of this, our circumstances. We don’t need to wait for a certain number of hours or days to pass before we proceed with anything. I wouldn’t want to know what I would have missed out on with Shayne had I carried around that school of thought. I thought we had years and years together, I didn’t and couldn’t have ever thought overnight, in the blink of an eye, my husband would take his last breath in his sleep. So, no. I can not adopt any notions now that our timing is off in any way. We are on time. All we have is now. Our children will grow to know the sense of delicate urgency that this life is a gift. We are guaranteed nothing, but the present.
So, there we are, the babe cave is increasing occupancy by 2… dudes… tomorrow!
(I know, listen, I’m blowing even my own damn mind when I sit in it).
Who, as I have watched for a couple of weeks now, are doing exactly what I did 17 months ago. Depart from their home and normal, relinquish their belongings in garage sales and giveaways, and leap into the unknown with the biggest open hearts and hope for their future.
Because all of our futures, each of us, are wrapped up in this very, very gigantic leap.
And no doubt, this is the biggest decision I have made since Shayne died. This is not something my heart and mind take lightly. Not for a moment. Its big, and feels bigger.
Certainly, if you would have told me when I moved here last July, that in a year-ish I would be opening up the doors and bringing into it two dudes….. my face would have fallen off my face. For sure. There’s no way I would have known I was capable of or ready for that in the (un)foreseeable future.
But I don’t doubt it. At all.
Sure… truth: I’d be lying if I said I am not anxious.
But when I give myself some time to breathe and be still, the truth rises and the love prevails.
The love and certainty is bigger than the anxiety. Than the fear.
I am confident the love will be bigger and conquer much, much more than this.
Get truthful about it, absolutely I am fearful. I won’t be enough… mentally, emotionally.
Will my heart…my mind.. be strong enough? My space and efforts still be protected?
Everything I have done this year, working on myself and digging deep, will it be honored and has it been enough?
Have I really done all I can, to create enough space to receive them, all of us?
But here’s the fact when I face it: all that I have worked through and achieved since Shayne has been gone, every step I have taken, decision I have made, every time I have honored myself, …I have created space in my heart and mind to receive them, specifically them, and bring them into their new home. And labor of love to unite us.
I have been doing the legwork all along. I may not have just moved my entire life’s possessions out of my home, and uprooted my children within the last 2 weeks, but I have been paying my dues and preparing for this for months. Emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I had work to do. It wasn’t just to dig myself out of grief and “move on.” The tears, fits, anxiety, depression, good, bad, ugly, everything, all of it. I went through all of that, got ugly with it and climbed right on out. It was all necessary. Precise. Intentional. Letting go of it, creating space for joy. It all lead here. And therefore…
The love prevails.
So, yes. The answer is yes. I am enough. We are all enough.
We were and are always enough.
This space is enough. Our hearts are enough. We have all done enough.
We showed up, leaned in and lead with love.
So we get the greatest gift of big love from each other.
We’ve all suffered loss, been through the trench, climbing out and deserve big love.
Our love wins. All damn day.
Because I trust in the timing.
And moreso, after the walk I have had, I trust myself.
No, the situations on either side of the aisle are not ideal and are quite frankly… a lot. The why we were brought together will never be light conversation.
The heartbreak is real. The pain and grief is real. The vulnerability is at a fever pitch. The emotions are high. On both sides, no matter how you slice it, this is all tough. And if you give yourself just enough time to sit in it and think on it, can tug at your feels and make things just feel way too big.
But we are tougher.
And we are choosing each other. To not let time or distance be a factor or issue in pursuing this life together (my appreciation for finding someone who meets me in that, whew!, knows no bounds).
Our common goal is to live simply and love big. These kiddos deserve it.
Everything is arriving right on schedule.
They are going to be pulling into our driveway not a moment sooner than right on time.
And I have no doubt we’re going to squeeze the life out of the time we have together, because all we have is now.
And I am, again, bursting with eagerness to do LIFE!, excitement, and pure joy about sharing this. This is the life-grabbing, full out, blind leap, juicy stuff I want to experience and have a life full of. This is how I want to write my story. This is what we talked about and planned and here it is! It’s here! It’s happening! This is us!
I have said this, and had to give myself grace freely throughout my own journey as a widow and mother, good, bad, ugly… I’m still all in. For every bit of it. Let the truth rise. Up and out. Lean in. Lean in. Lean in. Be grateful and serve up heaping spoonfuls of grace. When it gets ugly, even on the ugly days, there’s always something to be grateful for… breath in your lungs, blood pumping through your veins. You’re still here.
I am so grateful for Jessep, his patience,… with my heart. That’s still a little wonky on it’s best days, after all… this has been a marathon.
But I am so, so grateful. For having someone in my life who wants me to honor them with my honesty. Who doesn’t shy away or shut me down when I feel a flaming hot truth coming up and out. He gathers it up, places it in his basket, allows me to be, whatever I need to be, and still loves me and embraces it, all of it.
He is for me, and I for him. I’m not letting that go. I cherish it. More than he could possibly know.
I know now from losing a love unexpectedly, don’t wait to share your truth – don’t cloak it, share and tell someone you love and care about them. Do it now. Do it often.
Words matter. You have now. Squeeze the life out of it like you’re wringing out a wet rag. Better to be a blazing flame of hot truth than simmering coal of cool fear.
And good gracious. Thank you, for the overwhelming support to the previous post. I was sincerely astonished by how many took the time to even read it(!) and then, took time to reach out to us. I have relayed this sentiment to a few already… but… receiving that kind of support for something so joyful in my life, our life, is gold. Pure gold. As much support and hand-holding in condolences as I received in the days following Shayne’s death, it is just as life-giving to receive the same intensity of support for this, this huge, gigantic step in my life onward. My collective tribe never ceases to knock me out with gratitude and humble me quick, you’ve helped move mountains in my life and been so patient and gracious toward me and my ladies and now my two boys on their way down here. Thank you for loving me, us, through all of it.
I am honored and so grateful to have this safe space to share and keep sharing my truth, our truth and now… our life. The brave cave, they’re my big deal, my joy, and I want to and will share it all as long as I am able to. I’m not afraid, I was born to do it.
Onward ever, here we go… and then, the babe cave became the brave cave. 🙂