We came to the one place we knew wouldn’t change without us. Just to feel something familiar. Just to feel a little normalcy.
I spent a lot of money just to do that. Knowing we’d be at Fontenelle Forest for only an hour. But the price of familiarity seemed worth it.
If you’re new to my blog, after moving our military family to a new town where we had no family, church, community, schools, or friends… No home to call our own… No place to land… Seven weeks after all that, my husband died. Leaving us with no daddy and no husband. No earthly security.
About six months later, we traveled back to our old stomping grounds. Fontenelle Forest.
We started at the bird exhibit. Our favorite part are these ropes bridges. They were roped off.
Soon as I saw the ropes, I heard lyrics in my head. A song that frequently ministers to me in transitions.
“The places that used to fit me no longer hold the things I’ve learned. Those roads were closed off to me, while my back was turned.” -Sara Groves
That moment at the ropes across the bridges… that was the moment we realized even this changed without us.
Sometimes, I think we come to the end of our ropes when we are facing the wrong way. Maybe we’re supposed to be climbing up the rope and we just want to turn around and go back down?
Maybe this devastating ending is another beginning again?
I hate starting over. Military family life is full of starting over, making something out of nothing, starting from scratch. We went downstairs, our go-to winter retreat! But the familiar indoor play area was completely gutted! Gone!
We were disappointed for sure. All of us. Even me.
So we went outside. At least our walk through the forest would remain. The comfort of predictable trailheads and paths to follow… NO!!!
No. No. No.
A whole section of the forest was chopped down and turned into a zipline. Felt ghostly in the bleak mid-winter. Where’s Dan to zip with? We all felt the sting.
But the last straw for my daughter was when we walked up to her favorite little pond. It was totally re-stoned, and she lost it.
“The best part of this whole place?!? This is stupid! I hate this place! You pay a lot of money to walk in a forest (that should be free!), and they build buildings, and now THIS?!?”
It was a true Fern Gully existential crisis.
The girls sat in the silence on a stump staring at the zipline and deforestation.
Beautiful things often have to be chopped down to make room for new adventure. It’s almost unbearable.
I noticed fallen trees this trip more than any other. Usually, I crop the fallen trees out of the photo. Not today. I only took 4 photos of the forest. All of dead trees, snapped in half, fallen to the dirt, and buried in fallen leaves.
Oh Dan! Oh Dan!
I found one fallen tree with a carved inscription, “I fell in love.”
I did. I fell hard.
As we left, my daughter expressed her disappointment.
“This was SO not worth it!”
But even though it all hurts, we needed this. It makes me look forward to the one place we went hiking with daddy before he died. What’s ahead feels like something we can grow into instead of this beloved home that we sadly grew out of.
I left looking forward to who we’ll return to. Maybe those new friendships in a new town are likewise a community we can grow into?
Loss comes in so many forms: death, change, divorce, moving, fading friendships, new ones.
My friend Tammy and fellow widow says this, “I relate so much to Anne Roiphe’s words:
‘Grief has two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.’”