When my daughter Katie asked to go to Newnan, to go back and see the Mayhews and her other friends, I would put her off. We didn’t have the money, nor did I have the time to take off work. My car is failing, and it is just too far to go. If I could take back every time in the last 5 years I have said no, I would in a heartbeat.
Newnan is the place that is hard for me to go back to. Sure it is where I brought 2 babies home from the hospital, the first home my husband (now ex) and I owned together. I watched my son Jonathan learn to ride a bike in that driveway. I paced the hallway swaying my newborn baby girl Natalee to sleep. I watched my daughter Katie and her friend Madison play for hours on the swingset in the back yard. But Newnan has it’s bad. It is where I watched my baby gasp for air before being taken to the ER only to endure a 4 day hospital stay at the Children’s Hospital. It is where I learned that my husband had a years long affair, it is where he “came clean” to me in the bathroom on the 2nd floor about how he had been unfaithful. It is where I sat calmly on our bed as he told me he was leaving, and moving out. It is where I rebuilt myself in those months after he left – doing everything I could for my kids as my world seemingly crumbled around me.
As you can see – its hard to go back. But then the text came and the facebook messages that Anissa had passed away. All of that bad melted away, and I just needed to get there for my friend and her family. I waited for news of her service, I booked hotel rooms and then this past weekend we went back. The kids of course wanted to see the house, so we went past. The only thing I remember thinking was that the neighborhood had sort of declined, but then again I live in an HOA neighborhood now full of perfectly manicured lawns. I was simply basing this off the fact that the grass was waist high in some spots. The house looked much like it did when we lived there, save for the trees growing taller & fuller.
The celebration of Anissa’s life was good. I know that’s weird to say about what was essentially a funeral, but it was more a celebration. There were bright summer colors, Hawaiian shirts and stories. Boy were there stories, there was a video full of photos of her with a special surprise in the middle that made us giggle. There was a story about a coconut, that led most to say that they will never think of a coconut in the same way, or see a coconut and not think about Anissa. Even through all of the tears and hugs and more tears, it never hit me that it was because she was gone. Before we left on Sunday, we stopped by the house to see Pete (her husband) and our old neighborhood one last time. It was raining, and my teenager remarked that Anissa was mad because we were all sad – so she sent some storms down to us. Pete showed me some improvements they made to the house, and as I rounded the corner into the sunroom, her wheelchair was there. In my mind I said “oh Niss is in the bathroom” and then it hit me. No, the chair sititng there, in front of her computer like it was so many times – she’s not coming back to it. Before we left I reached over and ran my hand across the back and let me hand rest on the handle. I walked away, ran my hand through her son’s hair as I passed him sleeping in the chair, and hugged Peter one last time.
Despite all the bad that happened in Newnan, this friendship between our families was the good. Those memories are good. And this trip healed me in a few ways, because I could bring Jake back – show him the good that happened and the good people who helped me through.
I end with this song that was played during Anissa’s celebration. It is one of my favorite Christian songs and I hope it touches you in a way that touches me when I hear it.