Wednesday, October 23, 2013


The October leaves, breathtaking in their colorful, end-of-season splendor, have been leaving the safety of their home bases and heading somewhere new. Each maple, birch and poplar leaf is especially bedazzling right before they fall; each color its richest in the days before it departs its secure perch. The branches are left bare, but everyone knows they will be abundantly full and green again someday.

So too do we follow in the path of autumn's leaves, breathing in a rich, final October in this season of our lives.

 Our social calendar has never been so full. Every evening includes dinner with friends and family we love; every day seems to bring one more, "I'm going to miss you guys so much!" as we make our rounds saying goodbye; every moonlit jaunt home features one last round of, "We have the greatest friends in the world," tummies and hearts full.

We drink it in, knowing we may never see certain people again this side of heaven.

It has been a month of lasts: last MOPS meeting, last church service at New Hope, last Duck game, last day at Salem Academy, last time at a certain friend's house...last time at Skate World.

Well, to be fair, I really did think my last time at Skate World would have been back in middle school.

This past Sunday was our last time at New Hope. We've been going to this church for almost four years, and it has meant everything to us as a family. Two of our children were dedicated here. Nearly all of our Salem-area friendships have been cultivated here. We have met God here. We have grown as a married couple here.

We have truly lived here.

And what a month of living it's been. Our friends and family have gone over the top in blessing us with meals, borrowed cooking supplies, furniture and baby-sitting services. My thighs have the three extra pounds to prove it.

The thoughts swirled around as the music played. We are so incredibly wealthy in love, I realized, and the familiar lump of sadness made its way into my throat.

And then Pastor Abe had the nerve to play the last scene from It's a Wonderful Life. When Harry raises his glass to a houseful of George's friends and says, "To my big brother George, the richest man in town," I started sniffing. And when George reads the inscription from Clarence the Angel that says, "Remember no man is a failure who has friends!" the tears flowed freely.

They kept coming when Nick and I walked into Old Spaghetti Warehouse the next night, expecting a quiet dinner with Dave and Kori, two of our best friends here. Instead, we were met by a roomful of people waiting to toast us in our next stage of life.

We ate and laughed the night away (or more realistically, until our baby-sitters had to go home). The party isn't over, either; we have a dinner date tonight with the Stuckers, another tomorrow with the O'Connors, and so on and so forth right until we leave.

I may not know much, but I do know this unchangeable fact: in the areas that really count -- love, friendship, loyalty and relationships -- Nick and I are rich beyond measure. And I think Clarence would deem us wildly successful.

I do, too.