Last Sunday, I announced that I am leaving Virginia-Highland Church and going to Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan. It was a tough announcement to make because I really love this church. They got me through the hardest year of my life. Oh, I know there will be other tough times in my future, but life has done the worst that it can do to me and they were there.
It will be strange to go to a church that never knew Bill. It will be strange simply to go to another church without Bill, strange and a little scary. How much of my success has been the result of him being there to make people love him? How much has been dependent on him getting up early every morning to pray for me? Oh, I know some people believe that he is still interceding for me, but that isn’t my belief about death.
It would be so much easier if I believed he was still with me, but that isn’t my experience. Just making this decision to make a huge change at this stage was nearly impossible without him to talk it through. I feel much less confident than I would have in the past. In part, that was because Bill used a different part of his brain than I do. Mostly, though, it was his presence. I didn’t worry about doing anything or going anywhere so long as he was there. Now he is not.
For me, this year has been about learning to be an adult without Bill. We got together right out of college, so every car, every house, every pair of shoes was bought in consultation. This year, I sold my car and both of our homes, and now I will move from Atlanta to New York without him … well, sort of.
I just got one of my favorite pictures of him blown up and put on canvas. I want to take him with me like that. Of course, I will take him with me in my memories of the wonderful life we had together. Mostly, though, I will take him with me in who I’ve become because of him.
Bill was never a millionaire, or an executive, or a public figure, or an author, yet he lived his life with such great grace and with such a gentle smile that he had a great impact on everyone who knew him and left everything behind him better than it was.
I’m getting excited about my new adventure with Middle Church. I’m also anxious about the move and very sad about leaving my Virginia-Highland family. Will this be a healing move? I hope so, because Bill always wanted to live in NYC, and this is for him.
Rev. Michael Piazza