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December 29, 2008

It was just over a year ago that our funding ran out for the startup we  planted in Colorado Springs.  Though we knew the time was coming to an end, we didn’t realize  the sponsoring agency was actually going to cut the project so quickly.  About the time my Smiling Son was born, I was told we had 30 days to find a new position.

We had several offers around the country, but ended up taking a  great post in Oregon.  Unfortunately, all of our time and energy was consumed  by the process of buy and selling houses, packing, and transitioning to our new home.  Not to mention the time and energy it takes to give birth and  nurture a newborn.

When we landed in Oregon, The Wife and I kept talking about how surreal it was.  For five years we poured our hearts and souls into Common Ground.  The people, the process, the friendships – this was our life – but suddenly we found ourselves 1200  miles away   with none of that.  It was hard.

It wasn’t until this past weekend that I was able to bring it all together.

We had been making plans to visit  my BIL and his wife in Denver as they anxiously awaited the birth of their first child.  The plan was to fly out the day after Christmas to allow enough flex in case the baby arrived late.  We would have the added benefit of visiting all the family as they came in to see to  see the baby – plus my brother, his family, and my Dad who live in Northern Colorado.

But, plans change.  “Life is what happens  when you make other plans,” said John Lennon so eloquently.

Two weekends before Christmas, we got the call telling us that Jennifer’s uncle, in Nebraska, had died.  Fortunately, we didn’t have airline tickets for the Denver trip so we had a lot of flexibility.  We wrapped up things at home, through a couple of tons of gear in the car, and headed out to Valentine, NE.

Over the past two weeks we’ve been able to spend time with friends and family all up and down the Colorado Front Range.  But it wasn’t until this weekend that we were able to spend with our dear Colorado Springs Friends.

It has been a very healing time to see these people.  This healing and nostalgia  caught me off guard.  I wasn’t expecting it.  We saw friends in Pueblo who treat our Darling Daughter like their own granddaughter.

When our friend “Uncle John” picked up my daughter and pulled her close for a long, long hug – it brought tears to my eyes.  She has no other adult male who does that for her – or shows  that kind of unconditional affection for her.

We even got to ride on one of Uncle John’s many horses.

I was able to make amends with a dear friend who I had hurt badly.  I was looking for that opportunity, but didn’t know if it would ever come – and the phone just wouldn’t be sufficient.  It needed to happen long ago, but I needed to understand my deed first – I believe.

We stayed with good friends in Parker and very close friends in Colorado Springs.

Sunday morning we got together with about 25 friends at Mimi’s Cafe.  It was good to catchup, exchange hugs, and share our journeys with one another.  At the end of the meal, I got up and clinked my glass with a fork.  These were the people I used to lead, mentor, and coach.

There was some closure.

Ending our gathering with nothing more than chit-chat just didn’t seem to be enough.  So there, in the middle of a crowded restaurant, I made a little speech.  There was some closure.

I feel like I can return home now.  I feel like I’ve wrapped up my “stuff” here in Colorado Springs.  We drove by our old house – and while it was good to see – I had no desire to be there again.  We chatted with former neighbors.  One couple is pregnant, another lady no longer needs a cane or walker, and the neighborhood looks just the same – Colorado brown with a lot of sunshine.

I spent some time with a neighbor across the street from our former house.  The last night in that neighborhood, he shared with me the struggles with his alcoholic wife and the downward spiral of their marriage.  Yesterday he  described a saga of  restraining orders, affairs, guns, arrests, and kids  caught in the crossfire.  I just listened.

I’m ready to go home.  I feel like we’ve closed this chapter of our lives.  Both of our kids were born here, we bought our first home here, and we poured our  hearts and souls into the lives and relationships  of this city.  But we’re done.  It wasn’t our choice, but it was – and we are.

Some of our friends continue to ascend, some are not.

This all caught me unexpectedly.  I didn’t realize how healing this visit to Colorado Springs would be.  I will treasure this weekend forever.

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