Moving Day

Taking the first picture off the wall and gently placing it a box was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Days later I still sat looking at the bare spot on the wall, a lump in my throat and tears welling uncontrollably. Taking that picture down was acknowledging the inevitable, and I kept forgetting to breathe.

The next week, women began showing up on my doorstep with cardboard boxes and rolls of tape. The doorbell would ring, and I never knew how many kind faces would be standing there- but every day, they came as the sun. My shoulders were bowed under the weight of a life imploding, and those hands held up more than cardboard boxes that week.

Divorce ripples out and out, and changes people who thought they were far enough from the ragged epicenter to be safe. No one is safe. Divorce, while first a deeply private and painful rending surprised me in being also a communal sorrow. I did not – could not have- anticipated the families effected by, touched by, and changed by the private hell of the loss of my marriage.

The last night in the house, sleep was elusive and I paced my smooth wooden floors, navigating the labyrinth of carefully labeled boxes. I allowed the memories and plans for that life to wash over me as I wept, and then gently and quietly bid them goodbye.

At seven the next morning, there was a knock on my door.

My friend stood on my porch with two of her teenage sons, and they had brought a friend. Slowly, trucks started pulling into my court, and by 8 o’clock, there were busy people running in and out of the house with boxes and furniture. I was trying to stay out of the way, but as the rooms slowly began to empty, I felt the panic and sadness start to grow like a monster.

Standing in the foyer, utterly incapacitated, I couldn’t remember how to move my feet, as the tears rolled down my face. My friend found me, gently put her arms around me and told me very clearly and simply to just leave. I did not need to stay and see this happen, that she and the others would take care of everything, and that I could leave.

Nodding like a child, I grabbed my keys and purse and stepped outside.

I was not prepared for what I saw. Up and down the street, on both sides, were lines of trucks and trailers. Whole families had shown up to help, and were waiting their turn to pull into the driveway. There were people everywhere, and large parts of my house were already stacked and tied neatly in trucks. Young men and women rushed in and out of the house, hefting big boxes into appointed places, and people called out cheerful greetings.

Per my friend’s instructions, I drove to the new little house we were renting, perplexed by an odd mix of gratitude and awe. At Little House, I waited for the first trailers to arrive and people began pour in and to reassemble my life. By lunchtime, the kids’ beds were assembled, the washer and dryer were hooked up and running, the living room was entirely unpacked and even my piano was in-place- and being played. Someone put together my entire kitchen, the bathroom, and hooked up the TV and the Wii so when the kids came back that night, it would feel like home. Even the curtains were hung.

That afternoon, my friend came by Little House. She handed me my keys, hugged me and said it was done. Not just moved, but done-done. Everything. They had even vacuumed. The only things left belonged to my ex-husband, and they were stacked in the garage.

That night in Little House, my children tucked in and dreaming, I looked around. My whole life had been picked up, and in one fell swoop- like transplanting an orchid- had been moved to a new pot. It wasn’t as big or as fancy a pot as I had before, but it was a good pot nonetheless. And when my kids had come home, it looked like home. Their beds, their pillows, their photographs, even their books and reading lights- all in place.

There is too much to write. The acts of love and service continue. But I would have been remiss if I didn’t share this beautiful day, when I have shared so much of the sorrow of the last year. A day which overflowed with the potential for sorrow has been turned into one of the most beautiful days of my life, due to the love of my brothers and sisters.

I later found out the teenage boys who had come at dawn had cancelled a ski-trip- of their own volition– to serve my family. Who does that kind of thing? For me, that’s an easy question. I know the answer.

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  1. Thanks for this, Tracy. I feel grateful to you for sharing your life with us so much and to your friends and neighbors who truly know what it means to be a disciple and a true friend. You are a very wealthy person in the only way that matters.

  2. Agreed, Tracy. You are wealthy! I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to have such an enormous day or stress and pressure lifted up from you like that. What a treasured ward you have!

  3. pinkpatent says:

    Crying…….both for your trials and your triumphs. I guess the idea of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts is true.

  4. Tracy, this is so beautiful. What a wonderful experience in the midst of a terrible one.

  5. SNIFF!

  6. GatoraideMomma says:

    I could only wish more of our sisters facing this challenge had the support system you described. So many do not have places to go or the means to provide much for their kids, or they are in shelters for the abused. You story was touching and well written. Thank you for sharing and I hope it will help others to know how they might help in these times of need.

  7. This one had me literally weeping. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. #6, I thought of that as I was writing. In no way is what I experienced a reflection of anything but the goodness of the people in my community. I am not more or less deserving of this type of kindness than any other woman and children in my position. But I did want to honor the great and kind hearts who took such good care of us- and maybe inspire others, including my own family, to do in kind.

  9. I echo #7. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself over the past year. And for inspiring me to be a little more sympathetic, a little bit kinder, and a little bit more thoughtful to those that I come into contact with.

  10. Touching, sweet, and very much revealing the love that washes around us in our wards unseen until needed . Thanks for sharing.
    GatoraideMomma, amen!

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    You’re not supposed to make me cry while I’m watching the Olympics!

    What a blessing this has been for your ward family. I can guarantee that the parents of those teenagers who helped said a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity. Nothing swells a parent’s heart quite like actually witnessing real-life selflessness in their teenagers. And nothing brings a ward together more than everyone pulling together at once for someone they love. Nothing. It has the unifying power of an old-fashioned barn raising.

    As richly as your little family was blessed, reciprocal blessings are going to reverberate within the walls of your ward house for a long time to come.

  12. Tracy — I’m glad you got the support you did. I wish this response from your ward was universal, or even common. Having a marriage end is so hard, and it’s harder when people who were friends turn away so as to not be seen as supporting divorce. Too many people, in and out of the Church, see divorce as something where they need to pick sides so that they are supporting the “good” one against the “bad” one, and that choice is so destructive.

    I comoderate a set of mail lists for LDS folks going through divorce or who have been through divorce, and you and anybody else here that wants to is welcome to join. is probably the best place to start.

  13. Thank you for the link Blain. I know the choosing of sides can happen, and even more insidious, the withdrawal of support on the individual due to some provincial ideas of blame and punishment. Fortunately, that did not happen in my experience.

    Kev, yes, it has been an amazingly cathartic and unifying experience. My gratitude knows no bounds.

  14. wonderful examples, thanks for sharing this story of your loving ward.
    Will you still be in your same ward or did you move out of the boundries?

  15. Same ward. Thank heavens for huge mercies.

  16. Wow, incredible story. What a blessing to be in a ward like that.

  17. happy for you that you are in the same ward

  18. Tracy, may the love of God and your ward and your many friends fill Little House to the rafters. Thanks for sharing with us the gold standard for how a ward should treat each other, and best wishes to you and your kids. You broke my heart this morning in the best way.

  19. Please hug your ward for me, Tracy. I’m so glad you have people like this in your life.

  20. Beautiful. (Where’s my Kleenex?)

    Bless you for gracefully allowing others the opportunity and blessing to serve you.

    I’m still so sorry for all you have been and are going through, but so grateful you have such a support system.

  21. Tracy, what general geographic area do you live in? I ask because I sometimes wonder how individuals’ experiences in their wards differ from region to region. For instance, my experience living in a California ward where there are 20,000 people inside the ward boundaries but only ~300 members is quite different than someone in an Orem or Provo ward where a ward roster of 400 people might comprise 99% of the population in a radius of a couple of miles. So for me, the experience of ward members also being my neighbors is quite foreign.
    I’m not suggesting that members in one region are more or less loving than another region. Just observing that the experience of giving love & service will be different, and curious about the details of those differences.

  22. I live in Washington state. Our wards are not Utah-sized, but there is enough activity here that our ward is robust and not too geographic enormous.

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