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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Paletta

Lighthouses & Life Restored

It’s been a week and half since we drove away from Nashville after nearly 7 years. We took time leading up to our last day to process this chapter of our lives, one that both challenged us and healed us. Just before we pulled out of the driveway we climbed up to our beloved rooftop one last time and snapped this pic, Nashville cityscape in the background.

This view has been the perfect visual for zooming out and noticing how far we’ve come. We moved into this house one year after losing my brother to suicide, wracked with grief, anxiety and sadness. This view was one that we invested in, knowing we could build financial equity that would set us up for the next season of life. More than that, this view was a reminder that we can always rise above, gain a new perspective, that there was hope after all. It was always a place where we could step out of our challenges and stop to take a deep breath of fresh air.

Stephen and I would make dinner and head to this space to eat together after feeling like passing ships with a huge lack of quality time in our daily lives together. Sometimes it was a space where we would come together to unpack a particularly hurtful argument or a difficult week. It was our lighthouse, a place where we could go to escape the rocky shorelines during tumultuous times, it was almost like a safe zone, a place where we could be honest, air out our pain with each other and repair the wounds before we headed back out to sea together.

This rooftop has held many heartfelt conversations, so many laughs, healing and well deserved reprieve from the heaviness of the world. We gathered with friends here and snuggled up around the fire pit to have a drink or a hot cocoa and catch up. We celebrated plenty of successes and victories with bottles of champagne. I spent time here moving my body and practicing yoga, learning to breathe deep and quiet the anxiety that would often find its tight grip around me.

We climbed up to this space to witness the damage and devastation from the Nashville tornado after it ripped through our neighborhood. I watched day after day while fallen homes and huge uprooted trees were cleared to make way for Nashville electric to restore power. Blue tarps covered nearly every building like patchwork and slowly, eventually the lights came back on. After some time, new buildings started to rise up and as the tarps were replaced with new roofs, the city miraculously healed itself.

This rooftop felt like my observatory, a tower to climb where I could see the lay of the land, and even, somehow, the terrain of my heart. Some houses still have blue tarps covering the roofs, some streets still hold piles of rubble and bricks where homes and businesses once stood tall. Something about those 6 month old tarps, desperately trying to keep the rain out reminded me of living with grief. This tragic transformation reminded me of the blue tarps I still have in my own heart, patching the deep wounds of loss. It reminded me that no matter how much we rebuild, no matter how perfect the next house is, no matter how great the next job seems, no matter how much healing I do, there will always be the scars from where loss ripped through my life like that tornado, unexpected and relentless.

I hope you have a lighthouse in your life, it doesn’t have to be a physical place with an extravagant view, but a place where you can go to observe yourself and your journey. In yoga and meditation, we talk about being “the witness” almost as if you can be within your body and outside of it at the same time, watching yourself and watching your mind. I hope you have a place to sit and take a deep breath, a spot that helps you see the big picture, a place that sheds light on how far you’ve come. I hope that when you climb to the top of your own tower and when your eyes start to notice all that has been uprooted and destroyed this year, I hope you also see what has been reimagined, what has been restored, reconnected and realigned. I hope you see the trees that never fell, ones with roots that run deep just like your own courage to continue on. We will always have blue tarps on our hearts after a year like this one, but I hope that right there next to the scars, you see your own resilience.

As we settle into living in Florida, I am again reminded that it takes time. It takes time to create a new foundation, it takes patience and trust to rebuild our lives. Most of all it requires hope to begin again, knowing that soon enough we will climb a new lighthouse and see life restored.

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