Ten years ago this morning the removals van stood outside our old home in Reigate, heralding the end of an era. We had waited a long time for the day to come – a full 9 months from the time Martin successfully applied for his new job in Leicester. It was a long transition period – a gestation – as we gradually adjusted, prepared and waited for a new life to begin…
It is often good to look back and remember how you ended up where you are. When things are difficult and uncertain it is reassuring to be able to say, ‘This far has the Lord led us’ – we are supposed to be here! As I look back over the years, smile at the photographs, count our blessings, it reaffirms His kindness and a father’s intimate involvement in our lives… Yes, these have been an amazing 10 years as we have grown and expanded in every way into who we were made to be: we are incredibly blessed in this home and family, surrounded by friends and full of achievements.
But I am sad today… my son is sad today. He was coming up to 14 when we moved here: we had waited until his school Easter holidays to move – one of the reasons for the long wait. His dad had been driving up to Leicester every week to start the job part-time since 1st January 2001 and we were leaving 16 year old Becca behind in Surrey to finish her GCSE’s – she had moved in with friends and wouldn’t join us full-time in Loughborough until June. So when moving day dawned it was Sam and I who supervised the packing of the van and cleaned and locked up the house for the last time. This time 10 years ago we set out up Reigate hill to the M25 and M1, to a new home and a new life, leaving behind the childhood home he’d known since he was 3… Dear boy, I realise now I had no idea how he felt: he hid it all so well.
We sent Sam to Loughborough Grammar School. It seemed the best place for his unique intelligence – we thought he’d get special attention and they would get the best out of him. We could just about afford it, with the house move to the Midlands, and best of all, it is literally across the road from our house! He had one term before starting GCSEs, a new grey uniform, a nice big bedroom to make his own… he got on with it.
Only years later did I find out how much he hated it all – hiding in the library to avoid Wednesday afternoon Combined Cadet Force, hopeless at cricket and rugby, bullied for being so different… Oh God! We thought we were doing the right thing! He came out of it with his 9 good GCSEs and a lot of bruises and prejudices, escaping to the local college to take some ‘arty’ A Levels, which have done him no good at all.
It’s a bit of a sob story, but I am sure not unique. Many kids overcome such awful experiences – much worse experiences – and move on in life. We’ve had some painful conversations about what it did to him… it was, of course, our fault! And no doubt it helped to form him in some of his radical opinions – but nothing is beyond redemption if there can be forgiveness. I know this so well! 🙂 But the hardest part for Sam is he is so stuck – still living at home, in sight of a whole new generation of Grammar School boys arriving every morning – no money, no prospects, unable to make his way in life… I wonder if he had the beginnings of the brain tumour back then in 2001…?
We found out yesterday that his latest scan, in which he had put so much hope, shows no change. Mr Kris Kraft (Balaam’s Ass) has not magicked the tumour away, nor has it shrunk any further in the last 2 months. It is not active, it is not growing and he is not ill… nevertheless, his hope has been disappointed. I could point out that our only hope is the Lord – but that is both unkind and unnecessary. He is sad, so I am sad: yet again we are facing the reality of this immovable object: they call it ‘living with cancer’ for a reason. It’s a heavy load, it doesn’t go away, and we are tired.
Still, 10 years is a big marker and we are going to celebrate – I am celebrating by blogging about it! We have never lived in one place for 10 years before… Reigate was 10 years, but split in half by 1996 in California. (Perhaps I will try to update My Story with that part soon – looking back is easier than trying to look forward…) We do often get restless here in Loughborough and have often talked about moving on, but it is where we have been planted in the land – and yes there is fruit growing. We have a large and beautiful family home with room for all, including Sam’s American girlfriend Jessa when she arrives in 2 weeks – and talking of fruitfulness, it’s time to put a bit of work into my garden for another year… I wouldn’t want to leave that, even if the noisy nursery children over the hedge do disturb my peace and quiet 🙂 It’s good to have a home.
Perhaps its not possible to look toward the next decade today… but I can still give thanks for how far we have come. We may be mid-fifties now instead of mid-forties, but really – WHAT AN AMAZING TEN YEARS!