I'm frequently asked what I'll miss the most about Oklahoma. I smile and say all of the socially acceptable things they expect me to say. "I'll miss our family." "It will be tough to leave such great friends." "Our life has been here, so it will be interesting to have to start it over."
I never tell the truth. It's breaking my heart. I'm leaving my babies. We have two children buried in this state. One who was miscarried and one who was stillborn. The baby we had named Noah is buried beside his great-grandparents. Leaving him is easier because he is not alone and forgotten. The Computer Guy's family still attends services at the Lutheran church right next door. Our boy is with family.
But our Bernadette....our daughter's body is buried in a small Catholic graveyard where there is no longer any church. The only people who go there go to clean the graves of their relatives, as I have done for her many times. We have wonderful friends living near there who stop by from time to time and clear off her headstone, but they are moving a few months after we do. She will be alone among strangers.
I know that it is just her body and that her soul has gone on. I try to tell myself that we will be reunited someday, that I will see her sweet face again. It doesn't matter to me. Tending her grave is all the mothering I've ever done for our girl. Pulling weeds, wiping off dirt and planting a few flowers are all I will ever get to do for her.
My baby is buried here. In leaving Oklahoma, I am having to walk away and leave her behind again. I did it once on a hot day in July after her father placed that achingly small casket into the Oklahoma soil. The only time he held her in his arms was in a box at her burial. The only time I tucked her in was to drop dirt on her casket. This is all of her that we will ever have in this life.
Life is for those who are still living it, and moving to Texas is best for our family. I can accept that as fact. But how do we leave them? How do we leave her? How do we abandon Bernadette?