You know that they. “You can’t go back home again.” Country music star Miranda Lambert even wrote a song all about it in her song, “The House that Built me.” Growing up my Mom always quoted my great grandfather- telling her that she could never come back home- she left at the tender age of 18 from the surfing town of Huntington Beach for the rushing rivers of the great Pacific Northwest. She was homesick, and he reminded her that she left, and it’s not the same anymore. Oregon was now her home. I heard that story my entire life, so when I got married and moved from Oregon to North Carolina- I subscribed to that notion. I can’t go back home.
My husband and I called Fayetteville, NC home for a good year. It was our first year of marriage, and contrary to what most said- it was a year filled with bliss and love. Perhaps it was because we knew deployment was looming. Maybe the thought of him leaving for war kept things in perspective, so fighting just wasn’t even an option. Whatever the reason, our first year of marriage was a dream. I loved the humidity of the south, the culture, the thunderstorms, and the people I met. There- they only knew me as Levi’s wife. No history. No mistakes. It was a fresh start. I could be whomever I wanted. I loved that. Home- home was a time in the past and a, “never again.” I was free. I was happy.
Almost exactly nine months later, our first son was born. As I labored, and pushed, artillery and thunder made the military hospital room shake. I clung not to my husband’s hands, but the cold rotary dial phone with my Mom on the other line. “Breath,” she would say. “You’ve got this.” “It’s almost over.” Though two friends held my legs, and my husband kissed my forehead, though I was surrounded by love, I just wanted my Mom. She was supposed to be there. And bombs weren’t expected to be going off. The sun was supposed to shine. This wasn’t how I imagined having my child.
After five hours of active pushing, my sweet boy was born. The nurse that kept yawning pulled him away too soon and weighed him. Exhausted and confused, I just sat there. I just had a baby. Across the country from home. Away from my family. And my one connection to everything that defined me and kept me grounded was leaving for war in three weeks. All of the sudden, homes became a must, not a “never.”
The following three weeks were filled with doom and gloom. Baby blues set in, and the reality that I would be raising this little boy alone. No family. No cousins. No Aunts or Uncles. Not even my husband. I made the emotional decision to pack everything up and go home. Home. I would go back while my husband was fighting for his life, and I would be ok. Home. I needed to go back.
Not long after I decided to go home, I got a phone call from my Mom. Her and my step Dad were moving. Not across the street, or town, or even a different but closer state- but to Fargo, ND. I didn’t even know where that was on the map. This meant that for my son and I- were weren’t going home but going to another new place. We were starting over again. But, at least I would have my Mom for that year.
The music of that next year was the scream of a baby that seemed never to be happy, and the cry of my Mom who wanted nothing more than to go home. I found it hard to relate to her as her husband was safe, and they owned the most expensive house in all of Fargo. What in the world could she miss so much? Part of me began to resent home because of it. My “must go home” because of a never again. I didn’t ever want to be so dependant on a place for happiness. I wanted my joy and happiness rooted in Christ, and Christ alone. Not my husband, not rivers, not where I was located, but in Jesus. From that point on, I changed everything about my outlook and grew leaps and bounds closer to Jesus. I let go of my childish ways and became a Mother and a Wife, but more importantly women of God.
400 days passed and it was time to go back to North Carolin and welcome my husband home. A week later he was honorably discharged from the Army and us were again, free. Where did we go? Do we go home? Do we stay? Or do we find more adventure?
We chose the later- and embarked on a stupid journey out west to California, during the recession. Yeah. Though we both we unemployed, God took care of us and blessed us with wonderful friends and a wonderful church. When we realized nobody in the state of California was hiring, we headed back to the only thriving economy- Fargo.
I could go on and on- but before we knew it, Fargo was home. We had another baby there and bought our first house there. We set down roots. We were settled and happy. We had our tribe of friends and assumed we would be there for the rest of our lives. Life was beautiful.
Then, at 7:34 am I got a call from a familiar area code. It was 5:34 am there- never in our almost ten years away had we ever received a call from home that early. My stomach dropped as I answered. On the other line was my hysterical sister law. After minutes of trying to speak, she put her Mom on the phone, and I heard the news that forever changed everything. “Your brother committed suicide last night.” Though this was my brother in law, I’ve known him since he was nine- he was my brother too. Now, though, I was faced with calling my husband to come home from work- and break his heart with the news. That ten minute was the longest ten minutes of my life. The next few weeks were all a blur. Funerals. Viewings to say goodbye. Fevers. Hallucinations. Heartache. Anger. The worry for his son. Wanting so bad just to go home, but wanting so bad just not to leave.
That following year and a half we lost two more souls. Two more people we loved. And we weren’t there for any of it. More news of more ailing family members came, and loved ones are hurting. Tragedy after tragedy. Our hearts left Fargo and went home during this time. We withdrew from life all together and spent every waking second trying to be there in some capacity for our loved ones. I began traveling home for longer times with the kids, and each time leaving got harder and harder. Finally, after my last trip home we decided it was time. Time to defy the odds, to ignore what they say, and time to go home. We trusted God- if it were His will our house would sell.
Two hours after listing we had a more than asking price offer on our house. That night we accepted the offer. One month later we were back home, this time for good.
And can I just tell you something? Nothing has ever felt so right. A month before and it wouldn’t have been the right time. Years before, we weren’t ready. We had a lot of growing up to do, and a lot of humbling needed to happen. But now- now it was perfect. Now, the music to our lives is a rushing river that is more like a person in my story than a body of water. Now, my husband smiles like he hasn’t smiled in years. Now, now it’s time come home and stake claim to our history, and embrace it. Now it’s time to be proud of the childhoods we survived and to be thankful for the ten years we spent lost, in the desert. No homecoming could have been more beautiful than the one we have experienced now.
So listen to the music of your life now, and don’t be afraid to follow the sounds of your past. Do go home. Go home and cry. Go home and go to the places you missed and be happy. Eat at the restaurants you grew up going to and enjoy every second. Relight that fire and get back into the life you left without shame. You can go back home. You can.