For those of you who have read Above Tree Line, you know that, at the end of the book, we make the decision to leave Colorado. We decide it is time to move on, to make our home on the Oregon coast closer to one of our grown children. And for those who haven’t yet read the book–well, please read it anyway. This decision is actually a very small part of the journey.
As I write this, I’m in Colorado, in our house, now for sale, across the road from the river you can see in the photo above. It is June. It is green. It is gorgeous. And when I step outside, the fragrance of pine, sun-warmed grasses, and wild-flowers is intoxicating. It takes my breath away.
And I’m thinking, What, oh my God, have we done?
We’ve lived here for 17 years. We have friends, good neighbors, memories. I belong to a church I love. The real estate market in Fort Collins, the closest big town, is booming as people of all ages stream into this wonderful small city nestled against the Rocky Mountains at the far western edge of America’s Great Plains. They want to live here, not move away. Did we make a rash decision to chuck it all and move based solely on one traumatic experience?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. I don’t think we will know until we’ve lived in Oregon awhile. Until we’ve had the opportunity to build a life there by the Pacific Ocean, make friends, and create new memories. So trying to figure out the rightness of our decision is premature.
Inevitably, there comes a time in everyone’s life when a decision is made to leave or end something, so I am not alone in this or in the feelings I am struggling with today. Most of us know what it’s like to leave a marriage, a location, a home, a career, or a project we’ve completed or merely decided to abandon. And to a lesser or greater degree, and usually depending on the magnitude of the decision, we’ve all experienced the variety of feelings that ultimately arise. No, I’m not alone and that in itself brings some comfort.
Like you, I know the Kubler-Ross Model of the five stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. I know that they mix and match, come and go, are resolved and then return. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. I believe the only way to deal with difficult feelings is through them, and gentleness. Gentleness with ourselves and with our situation.
Ultimately, George and I will embrace Oregon while still holding the love and gratitude we have for Colorado, its people and its exquisite landscape. We will be able to do this fully by first allowing ourselves time to grieve that which we are leaving. If we cut short the time of grief, we hinder our healing and our ability to move on.
And, what about you, Dear Reader? Are you at a crossroad in your life? Are you gently and lovingly allowing the feelings that inevitably arise? If we do, we can happily move on. For me, Oregon and the Pacific Ocean are waiting.