Earlier in the day, he had been working on Toy’s and Andrea’s old computers. We are continuing to compile writings for our book and he was searching for some old emails and things that Andrea had written. He also found all of his old music. I knew this jaunt down memory lane wasn’t easy for him. I was doing it myself in our master bedroom closet sorting through old letters from Troy, pictures of us, the safe full of his medals and flags and keepsakes. What to leave, what to take? With my parents moving into our home here in San Antonio, we are super blessed for so many reasons. Not the least of them being, we can safely leave many of our belongings here and not have to move them to Eglin for two years. Anyway, back to Jim at his computer… I walked in and he was listening to a song. He said it played on the radio the first night he met Andrea when they were only teenagers. I can’t say I was familiar with it since I was only 10 years old at time (that was for Jim) but I knew the song took him back to that night. Earlier I had been on my old computer and poured over the emails Troy and I sent one another during his deployment to Iraq. Taking care of 5 kids under the age of 8, I was never a big email gal. But I quickly became one when Troy left as that was our primary source of communication.
Those emails took me back to the days and weeks and months he was away. Some of the emails were funny. Some were sad because we missed each other. Some were all-business and about the budget and how I was keeping up with doing the finances for the first time in our marriage. Some were about the kids. Some were about the war. But all were about us. Our life. Our hopes, our dreams, our struggles, our world.
Jim and I have been pretty open about sharing letters, etc…from our previous marriages with one another. We are both so curious to understand who we were so we can better understand who we are now that we agreed, for the most part, this was totally acceptable. So, I knew Jim had been reading the emails as he was downloading them and I was perfectly okay with that. Just as he was open to me reading Andrea’s earlier or listening to their songs. But when he came to bed and squeezed me extra tight, he said “I am sorry for how difficult that time was for you.” He said he understood me a little better from the insight he gained from the emails to my former husband in my former life. He said he knew Troy better and found the two of them to be even more similar than he had previously thought. He inched a little further into my heart with those statements.
In all the unsorted year-ago-move piles getting ready for the now-we’re-moving-again-we’d-better-clean-those-piles-out frenzy we have been in lately, I have come across many things. One of them was a book and card that Andrea’s friend Lisa had sent her. Though the card was from Lisa, it spoke volumes of who Andrea was as a friend. They had just spent a weekend together shopping, having lunch, catching up, etc.. girl stuff that I am sure Andrea didn’t always feel up to or get to do as often as she would like to have. Lisa talked about Andrea’s simple chic style and how much she liked having Andrea there to help her pick out the right thing. I enjoy “getting to know” who Andrea’s friends were. Some of them I have even gotten to know myself. But I always enjoy hearing Jim tell stories of Andrea’s friendships with many different types of women. And how she was a really good friend to all of them. A friend of hers called last week. She was an older Jamaican woman, who owned a tea room, from their church in NC. Jim talked about the opening night and how he and Andrea had helped her set the tables nicely for her first customers. I could just picture Andrea doing that. I have read her journals and always am amazed at how she remembered to pray for others when most of us in her circumstances would have only prayed for ourselves. I was touched when Jim showed me the day she had written my name down on one of her many prayer lists.
Jim read emails from Troy about how conflicted he was by fulfilling his duty to country yet knowing he was leaving me with so many responsibilities at home. Jim got in bed and told me how strange it was that we have seven kids together yet he reads emails to know me better. Old emails, worn letters, journal entries… Jim and I refer to them as “little windows” into our pasts. We take whatever opportunities we can if we think they will help us with this, our “new normal”; our new world.
If you have ever read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe or seen the movie, then you probably remember one of the defining and pivotal points in the movie; the first time Lucy opens the wardrobe doors
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie are four siblings sent to live in the country with the eccentric Professor Kirke during World War II. The children explore the house on a rainy day and Lucy, the youngest, finds an enormous wardrobe. Lucy steps inside and finds herself in a strange, snowy wood. Lucy encounters the Faun Tumnus, who is surprised to meet a human girl. Tumnus tells Lucy that she has entered Narnia, a different world. Tumnus invites Lucy to tea, and she accepts. Lucy and Tumnus have a wonderful tea, but the faun bursts into tears and confesses that he is a servant of the evil White Witch. The Witch has enchanted Narnia so that it is always winter and never Christmas. Tumnus explains that he has been enlisted to capture human beings. Lucy implores Tumnus to release her, and he agrees. Lucy exits Narnia and eagerly tells her siblings about her adventure in the wardrobe. They do not believe her, however. Lucy's siblings insist that Lucy was only gone for seconds and not for hours as she claims. When the Pevensie children look in the back of the wardrobe they see that it is an ordinary piece of furniture. Edmund teases Lucy mercilessly about her imaginary country until one day when he sees her vanishing into the wardrobe. Edmund follows Lucy and finds himself in Narnia as well.
Jim and I are a lot like Lucy. The day we married we walked up to one another’s old wardrobes, open the doors and stepped inside of each other’s Narnias; strange and unfamiliar worlds full of family and friend s we were invited to have tea with. Except there is no Edmund to go with us and share both our old worlds and our new worlds with
We are learning about one another more everyday single day. About the incredible spouses we had who helped make us who were are. About what we did, where we lived, what we hoped and dreamed for.
As Jim and I move again next week, this time to a totally new place, one where we will simply be Jim and Ginger Ravella. More and less of who we were, it is with a level of peace (this is God’s plan) and a tinge of sadness (we liked His first plan as well). Thank goodness Aslan was in Narnia and Jesus is in Florida. We have the Light to shine on whatever new road He asks us to walk.
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.