There are two crepe myrtle trees along the walkway leading from our basement door up to the driveway. In the last few days, they have both begun to erupt in color, bearing those rich fuchsia blossoms so fragrant and lovely. Hardly a day goes past that I don’t stop on my way to or from the driveway, pausing to bury my face in a blossom and smell the aroma that takes me back to my childhood.
When I was a little girl, growing up in a suburban Raleigh neighborhood, we had a line of crepe myrtle trees bordering our property, awash in fuchsia blossoms each July. I know several (if not most) of the trees were actually on our neighbor’s land, but our dear little old neighbor lady didn’t mind a bit. So my sister and my friends and I climbed the trees, standing in imaginary castles, swinging down on branches, and surveying our luxurious “estate” from the grand prospect of three feet off the ground. Those are sweet memories.
Now, as the crepe myrtle trees blossom here by the walkway, the last days of July are upon us. A dear friend wrote to me this morning of how she found myriads of spider webs on her back deck, hearkening, in a tiny way, the beginning of the end of this season of summer. So too we have had the beginning of the end of our time here in Virginia. These last few weeks have been what I might call a “Parade of Last Things.” We have had a last church fellowship, a last time in the home of friends. Soon we will be teaching our last music lessons, my dear husband will have his last day of work, and we will have our last Sunday in church here.
This whole saying-goodbye business is hard. My dear mother and I have often adopted what we affectionately call the “ripping off the Band-Aid” method. Rather than prolong the goodbye, we take a few dear, sweet last moments together and then part quickly, aching for the farewell but glad to have finished it. Presently, however, I do not have that luxury. This farewell is stretched over weeks and between homes, here, there, and everywhere. It comes, over and over each day, bringing its own terrible ache even as we look beyond the goodbye to the days ahead. Naturally, it takes weeks (or even months) to leave one season and enter the next. All the same, and especially with these last few breathtaking sunsets over the mountains, my heart still aches. We are in the already-but-not-yet, no longer fully at home here, but still not sundered.
But God is faithful, always and ever.
So I stop and smell those fuchsia blossoms, remembering the dear days of girlhood and looking forward to the days to come, when we shall still live as pilgrims, already and not-yet-fully basking in God’s goodness.