Today is my day off.
I get Friday odd because it’s my weekend to work.
We have had such a good rhythm this week, and the children have worked so hard in homeschool, and it’s a bright morning before more storms come, and my day off which just feels good anyway…. we had to come to the park.
We finished our reading first, and all the pieces of schoolwork anyone needs help with, and then picked up a picnic breakfast treat, and came to our river.
Our river, that used to be my river, back when it was only Nietzsche that came here on adventures with me every afternoon, my temple space before I ever found one in Oklahoma City.
Our river, the one I sat beside to read the Book of Mormon for the first time, late into the night, and into the morning, when everything changed.
Our river, where I brought Nathan to tell him my story, where we leaned into each other to watch the river run, where we knew our future was together no matter what else it brought us.
Challenges and children, that’s what it brought us.
And now it’s our river, after this hard year.
The river nurtured us back to life, all of us.
So many people worked so hard to help us move only an hour away, and now home again soon.
We had to come here to get Kyrie closer to the hospital. We had to come here to get Mary in a Deaf class. We had to come here to get the little ones in sign language preschool.
If we had not moved here, I would have only seen the children a few hours a week during residency.
The people who helped us pack or load up or clean or unload again just fifty miles down the road weren’t just providing a service of labor for our family.
They were helping us create our family.
All the children are fluent in sign language now, both signing and understanding sign. We had time together we would not have had otherwise, and continued our attachment building we could not have done otherwise. When Kyrie was in the hospital, we were based out of our home instead of split apart again by crisis. This tiny blue house that crowded us together was a hug that saved us.
We loved our house in Bartlesville, and it’s design that so well adapted to our life of fostering. We loved our friends there, and the community was one we believed in with all our hearts. It was very difficult to leave.
Leaving Tulsa will be hard, too.
But what I will miss most is the river. The river with its canopy of green, and the birds that sing.
Nathan has now gotten his experience of the whole “tiny home” fad, and concluded it’s probably not ideal for a family of eight. The children think we have been in a hotel, and that it was a fun game, but they are ready for room to wiggle and dance and play.
I was just glad to have them close, whether that was close while I was at the hospitals working or close to Kyrie in the hospital.
But with her release from life in the hospital, and the comfort given us by palliative care, we are also released from Tulsa.
And while ever our only extrovert, Mary is too bright for a class with first graders when she is in second and already doing third and fourth grade work in homeschool, and she wants to come back to it where she is challenged more.
And the preschool so good for our little ones has seen Anber graduate into Kindergarten at home, with Barrett on his way, and Kyrie wanting to be home with everyone else after so much time away.
Tears are a river that take you somewhere.
Here, at this river, I have cried about the loss of relationships and parents, cancer and miscarriages, medical dramas and illnesses.
But I have also come here to dance. And to run. And to ride in the wind.
I have come here to laugh and to play and to shout in triumph.
I have come here to walk my baby puppy who is now dying, to hold the hand of my husband, to push the strollers of my babies. I have come here to chase my children and watch them climb. I have come here to sleep under clouds and have picnics and dream about tomorrow.
Always, I come here to write, to feel, and to breathe again.
This morning was perfect, as if we were called to be here, as if it were the ritual to mark the resurrection of our family after these hard years.
It as the best homeschool outing ever, far better than I could have planned if I tried.
It was, in the eyes of the children, the best thing that could have ever happened.
We got to watch the man turn on the splash pad.
The children cheered as water suddenly burst into the air like the first fireworks of summer.
Owasso, the children said, has the best splash pads. You’ll see.
We’re going home to Owasso. My mother won’t be there. Alex barely remembers it and Anber doesn’t. It will be new to the others, but home for all of us. We don’t know what’s happening next, but we know we get to go home for at least a season of respite. It was promised.
I will miss the river, but I will still come to visit.
In Owasso, the open skies and sunshine await us, and we are starting to get excited after so many years of storms.
We read Psalm 104 this morning, a translation of it also:
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean depths, made a chariot out of clouds, and took off on wind-wings.
You set earth on a firm foundation,
so nothing can shake it, ever.