When I began writing this blog post, I found myself waiting. Anxiously waiting. All the signs of a coming migraine had paralyzed me in fear, curled up in my darkened room. I had just gotten home after driving to get the necessary pain killers. The whole way my hand gripped the gear stick, white knuckled. The steady throb hadn’t started, the building pressure behind my eyes and nausea were a long way off, but I was holding onto the gear shift with everything I had. The worst part of my migraines isn’t the migraine itself but the ten or so minutes before hand, when I know the migraine is coming. When I know to expect the pain and being completely helpless to stop it. You can’t do anything but wait for it to hit. Living out the reality of a migraine is never quite as bad as I imagine it to be. The panic of knowing what’s coming and having absolutely no control over it is paralyzing.
Today I’m leaving. Leaving the familiar, leaving the comfortable, leaving my entire reality. I’m stepping outside of my reality to inhabit the reality of another. As incredible, as awesome, as incomprehensibly wonderful as this experience is and will be, it definitely does not come pain free. Saying good-bye to my family scattered across the country, in Alaska, in Northfield, St. Cloud, Denver, New York, Atlanta, tears me apart. Having to say goodbye to the people I’ve met over the last week of orientation has left me feeling like a dried out husk – the crying isn’t done yet and I honestly don’t know if I have any more in me. And I feel like I should have my hand wrapped around the cosmic gear shift, white knuckled and trembling. We’ve spent the entire past week preparing ourselves for the times when we stumble, when we screw up, planning for the inevitable, planning and waiting for the pain. My imagination has run away with me to the most improbable situations and challenges. And now I find myself waiting again, waiting for the pain. I should be paralyzed. But I’m not.
I am hopeful. Goodbyes are hard because we have such special and wonderful and beautiful people in our lives, because we have bared our hearts to them and they have taken it and simply and wonderfully folded it into their own. Because, for however short a time, we were able to live together, weaving our realities into something greater than we could do on our own. I am blessed to have hard goodbyes. I am hopeful because those relationships will help carry me when I’m dried out, when I only have the husk left. The relationships I have yet to create in my new community will fill me to over flowing. And I am hopeful for that.
I am hopeful that when I screw up, there will be room for grace. That the God who has dragged me across the Atlantic will be there in the disapproving looks and disappointed shake of a head. I pray that he will be holding my hand when I can’t pick myself up anymore and that he will be there, ready with a hug, when I’m feeling lonely and isolated.
I am hopeful. And I am ready.
Well. As ready as I can be.