The past 52 days have been filled with more than I thought possible. Life, death, joy, sorrow, frustration, fear, excitement, hello’s, goodbye’s all intermingled these past 52 days. Doors in my life have been opening and closing so quickly- and so simultaneously- that it feels like emotional whiplash. And typically I find great joy and relief in sharing my experiences with my blog family. But this is different. This is private. Solemn. Mine.
Yet this morning I find myself awake at 4 am with that burning to write. To share just a glimpse of the past 52 days. If for no other reason but that I don’t forget. Or more like- so that I remember the goodnesses in it all.
Fifty-two days ago we welcomed our 5th child- and 4th son- into our family in what I can only describe as the most intense labor I’ve ever experienced. Under 2 hours. Which I would’ve thought to be ‘easier’ than longer labors. But no. It was like being dragged behind a galloping horse for 2 hours. Couldn’t catch my breath, couldn’t catch up to the labor progression, wasn’t ready to push. And then, just like that, Micah Corban was in my arms and all fell silent and peaceful and perfect. Fifty days ago we brought our baby home from the hospital and into the loving arms of his siblings who were over the moon ecstatic. We all just sat on the couch with these goofy grins. Simultaneously, we received a phone call from my dear friend, the mother of my son’s best friend, saying that her son was just taken Home by a single bolt of lightening as they vacationed. And just like that, we were ushered into the depths of grief even as we rejoiced. One son brought home. Another son brought Home. Thus beginning the long, unfamiliar journey of intermingled joy and sorrow.
Simultaneously, Micah began his Executive MBA at Georgia Tech and would need to be in Atlanta for a week. Out of all 52 weeks in a year, it would be this one! I drove him to the airport 6 days postpartum and wondered how I would get through the next week. My loving friends, neighbors and family were thinking the same thing, and the result was a beautifully orchestrated support system. My mom flew down from Boston to help with the packing (because we were moving in 2 weeks…more on that later!) and friends coordinated around-the-clock care. Sleepovers for the children, sleepovers for me, playdates, endless meals, babysitting, chauffeuring, hugs. Lots of hugs. That week is a blur, but what I remember is the love and support of those who have been my community these past 4 years of living in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. I am so very grateful.
Simultaneously, I prepared to speak at the memorial service. What a privilege and heartache to share the boyhood friendship of my son and his best friend. A friendship I watched for years through my kitchen window while doing dishes and cooking meals. Or from my rearview mirror as I drove them to yet another adventure. These 2 little boys would turn anything into weapons, find endless mischief, and play/fight/love like brothers. I shared all that at the service with my 2-week-old strapped to my chest. Like a hug. A reminder.
Simultaneously, I packed our home and said goodbyes as we prepared to move to Georgia. The moving company arrived August 17th…and left 2 hours later once we discovered we would be charged almost 3x what they quoted as a binding rate. I think the word “swindled” would fit here. So with all our belongings sitting on our front lawn, I escaped to a friend’s house with the children, fought off a pending panic attack, and began calling moving trucks. For the next 2 days, my rock of a husband moved us into a U-haul with the help of friends. On August 19th we began the 3-day trek to our new and entirely unfamiliar home in Georgia.
Since Micah would now be driving a U-haul, that meant I would be driving our mini van. Alone. With 5 kids. One of whom was 3-weeks old and breastfed. Believe it or not, this was my solution, and it worked amazingly well, too: I manually pumped bottles and put them in a cooler on the passenger seat. I would then sit on a bottle until it was warmed (think a chicken laying an egg) and the baby began to cry. I would then pass the bottle to the 6-year old in the middle row, who would pass it to the 7-year old in the back row (think baton relay) who would then feed it to the baby. Wow.
We did this for the 3 days it took us to arrived in Georgia. Not only was our new town unfamiliar (we had only ever driven through it once), but so was our new home. We rented it sight-unseen in true Kirkpatrick-adventure style. What a big risk. What a big house compared to our city dwelling. What a big blessing.
Here’s our new house…and the kids building a mailbox tent while also breaking community covenants no doubt. Welcome to the neighborhood!
We’ve lived here for exactly one month. We’ve had exactly 18 visits from friends and family, and we’ve unpacked more boxes than I care to count. We joined a homeschool community and I am slowly getting into a routine. Besides schooling the 3 big kids and learning my way around town, most days have been spent by the pool. Sitting in the sunshine and watching the children splash around has been healing. For all of us. I’m finding myself enjoying each micro-moment more fully…more fully aware of how precious and fleeting each one is. I’m enjoying this little baby more than I ever thought possible. And he’s sleeping through the night- something else I never thought possible!
Each of these events these past 52 days are filled with much more than I’ve written here. One day I hope to share more about them. But I’m not quite ready. Partly because the sun is about to rise and so are the children. But also because I need to sit with these experiences a little longer. To hold them in my hand and treasure them.Look at them. Let the tears and the laughter wash over them. To be still.