Back in July, as we were preparing to pack up and leave for Vancouver, I was almost completely filled with expectation and excitement for our family.
We were leaving things in good shape - our house was well-taken care of, our families were healthy, and we had tied up all of our lose ends. Of course, there were so many people in our lives that we were going to miss. Our lives are full of relationship - it's what I'm most proud of when I look at my life. But...
...did you notice the almost up above?
That almost provided me with the hardest goodbye we had when we left.
Let me back up a little.
The summer Mike and I got married nearly 15 years ago we began a friendship with a couple who also got married the same summer. In fact, we were married by the same pastor. There were a lot of similarities between us and Terry and Carla...
-Carla and I were both teachers who grew up in rural Manitoba AND we had the same name!
-Terry and Mike were passionate about music and sports
-We shared a common faith and were growing into it together
As that relationship grew and evolved, so did our love and affection for them.
What are the chances that within a few weeks of each other we'd both be announcing our first pregnancies? Fast forward three years and we're announcing our second pregnancies (together) again! And two years after that we find we're both pregnant and give birth a few weeks apart again! No, we never planned it or discussed it. But it has been the most amazing thing to experience together. Each of our kids received a "first friend" and shares an incredibly close and secure bond with their "partner" from the other family. You can see it when Caleb and Hannah, Brynne and Ellie, and Zachary and Sasha are together.
Along the road there have been significant times. There always are when you share your life.
Carla's dad suddenly passed away, we moved in with them for a month and grew to love each other more, we led a house group together, and later went through the growing/changing pains of Mike and I choosing to part ways with the church family we shared. Some of that was so painful. But not once have I ever doubted Terry and Carla's love and faithfulness to our family, nor ours for them.
Back in March, Carla picked me and the girls up from the airport after the visit to Vancouver when we decided to move. As we got closer to our house, the surprising announcement came - there was another Loewen baby on the way! I remember feeling instant excitement for them - but just as quickly came the feeling of regret. The regret of knowing I wouldn't be there....
You see, I had always been there. To see the growing belly, to take a kid or two when Carla was sick, to get the excited call and be at the hospital to see the fresh and new baby. I was mourning something I was going to miss.
A few short weeks later the bigger surprise came. Twins. Number four and five. Amazing - but more to mourn not being able to be part of and experience.
Our last supper in Winnipeg was with Terry and Carla and the kids. Mike and I both cried as we drove off their street. Our girls were upset to see us crying. We talked about how amazing it is to love people so much that saying goodbye actually hurts. "It's a good kind of cry" we told them, "because it shows us how deeply we are connected".
And so over the past few months we've talked, looked at pictures of Carla's expanding belly, given tours of new houses in new cities and baby rooms on Skype, and tried to stay connected.
Then Monday came. The day of the twin's birth. And Terry called to give the word that little Nella Joy and Norah Jane had arrived safe and sound and all was well. I was so grateful.
My gratefulness continues still. But my gratefulness has a close companion of mourning what I am missing.
In a few short weeks I will be there. I will hold those little pink beauties, smell their breath and make up for lost time. Mike will bounce one while I snuggle another and we will make extra space in our hearts for Nella and Norah.
When you're deeply connected, it hurts sometimes. But it's worth it.