I'm home alone tonight while Jack is at work, and I'm feeling reflective.
I think and overthink a lot during the quiet hours. I've had a lot of quiet hours.
After a long road of physical nosedive, we concluded enough tests to eliminate some of the bad boys...cancer, lupus, MS, Lyme disease, and so on. I was very relieved, and so was Jack. Now we're in a strange no-man's-land of a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Apparently it's been building for the last 20 years or so, with flare-ups and then periods of functionality, all of which I put under the vague headings of not being active enough, being overweight, not eating enough veggies and so on. The attempts to heal have been varied and many over the years, for what? I was never sure.
When I went in last December to the ER thinking I was in the middle of a heart attack, and knowing it was not a panic attack, that terrified me. It was completely beyond my control, and I don't like that, ever. Pair that with a cyclically inflamed knee (torn meniscus) ranging from being able to walk for shorter periods of time to being unable to walk without a walker...and you have a very sad Me. I was very very sad.
And I lay on the couch, unable to get up. I could not stay in a sad place the whole time, I don't want to get lost there. I got to live in a space I have not been in a long time...a place of quiet and stillness. Always we were scrambling to work, to pay for repairs for vehicles so we could continue to work, and in the job I had for the past three years (gratefully!) to be a caregiver and companion, I guess I did not realize how "up" I tried to keep myself as I cared for the two octogenarian ladies I cared for (same location) at that time. I was the caregiver, confidante, soother, errand-runner, problem-solver, and ultimately grief stabilizer for both ladies. I was there for the moments of emergencies, hospital stays, and ultimately death. That pulled so much from inside me, an interior world I never knew could rise to those challenges till the tests came. And I am grateful to God for the honor, as well. I think it was the right time, the right situation, and taught me so many lessons. It was a gift that I still don't fully understand yet, but still cherish. After three years of 12 hour shifts, I was tired myself.
After they died, no assignment was the same. There is always an adjustment between long term client assignments and getting to know someone else's needs, and I pushed to rise to that level of competence. It did not come easily. I found that after a day's work, I would come home so much in pain that I could not walk (the knees) the next day, or with an exhaustion that made me wonder if I'd actually wake back up once I went to sleep that night. But I just equated all of that with the "same-ole, same-ole"....needing to get healthier and so on. I kept my smile, my enthusiasm was real, and I wore my game face. I am a professional.
During the off days, we would take the ones we could to go do work at the land, i.e. the farm, which was slow going because of our learning curve and the fact Jack was doing most of the actual labor himself. Still, it did our hearts good to see progress being made! The dream of a more self sufficient life removed from many of the expenses it takes to live where we currently do still burns perpetually within us. We do not romanticize it. We plan and work for and pray for it. It got to where I was so exhausted after my regular work days that when we went to the land, there were times I had to just sit out any activity. That progressed to having to lie down. That is NOT me. Looking back on it I see a progression, but during those days all I thought was "tired!" Then came the night I thought I was having a heart attack, and could not stop the escalation. Then the ER.
We are in too vulnerable position financially. The ER visit expenses did not help. Initially, I think we both panicked. It became clear I could not return to work, and the panic in my heart was real, a real grief when realizing how that would affect the progress of our mutual efforts to get to the farm, to get it set up enough with just the most basic of basics for us to move there in any form.
I could not do anything there for many weeks but lie in bed or on the couch. I'm not much of a crybaby. But tears would stream out of the corners of my eyes, especially seeing how Jack just remained calm and carried on. I could see the impact of this changed situation, and feel the added weight on his shoulders. To his credit, he only showed frustration or panic a couple times. We are very open about everything with each other. He told me the truth: God is in control of this and life happens to us all. (I knew this). He was calm. I said "what's the plan from here?" He said "same plan, we just stay steady as possible." And again, the tears just squeezed their way out of the corners of my eyes.
Then something happened, slowly, as the days progressed. I talked to God a lot. Sometimes out loud, but mostly in my mind, where the thoughts go too quickly or not organized enough to really verbalize them. He quieted things and I began to think of this as a Quiet Place. I could not pump myself up, leap over this hurdle, pretend I felt better than I did, push myself the way I always had. I had no choice. Don't get me wrong...it's not my nature. I'm an overcomer, even in the times when it's been with reluctance to pick up and try again. Just dash me with a hot shower, let me caffienate, jump into my clothes and pep talk myself beyond the physical discomfort and "get 'er done!" That's how I roll. Or rolled...
Anyway, I won't belabor this. This has been humbling. And I stopped to just be grateful. That I'm still here. Perpetually thankful for this husband I can't believe is so amazing, steady, loving. Noticing the things I'd never had the time to just sit (or lie down) and notice...looking out the back french door windows and seen things green up, seeing what birds were singing, seeing how simple things boiled down to...eating, showering, clothes, bathroom, sleep. Humbling. Even walking was not taken for granted. Noticing the levels of discomfort as they ramped up to pain, and the relief when they abated.
How did we ever decide to get the bees?
I lay there on this couch, not feeling well enough to blog or check facebook or do emails, not even to read a book. So I closed my eyes and thought "what can I still do to help us get to the land?" It's always in my mind. I turned on youtube to listen to things, and remembered that I had always been intimidated with the idea of keeping bees, but remained curious. Every time I'd picked up a book in the past, hoping to grasp the terminology or the understanding of how a hive functions, a few pages in I was intimidated by the unfamiliar terms and the seeming complexity. So in my enforced couch-dwelling, I decided to put on some long-play talks on basic beekeeping. That's how something took root and began to grow.
I was on that couch many, many days. My mind had to do something even if the rest of me couldn't. And so I continued to play long youtube bee videos. I had plenty of questions and was still so lost in the terminology after a point. So I'd just re-listen. I kept hearing people assure others how easy beekeeping really was...easier than keeping a hamster or a cat, they said.
In that quiet place of resignation and just leaning in to what I had no control over, in that stillness, I grew to love the bees. Some clarity began to take shape, slowly. I began to understand some of the basic needs and to see that there was a lot of unpredictability, but within it, a timeless simplicity. People have been "befriending" bees from the beginning of recorded history. And this became a thought, a consideration. An idea, which was something I COULD do...to learn, even if passively. And hope was planted in my heart again.
I'll stop here for now. There is a part two. But this is part one...the quiet place of relinquishing control I never truly had in the first place, of gratefulness, of slowness, and of pain and a big stop sign to pause the fast forward my days had been paced like before. Closed doors one direction, open ones another. And stillness.
I'm grateful for a home to rest in, a couch to lie on, a husband who loves me like I could never have hoped, a daughter I get to connect with nearly every day. Friends, who care. Whatever this is all meant to mean, and I don't know what that is, I am glad the clock stopped where I could feel the presence of a world suspended for a time and realize I never had any control in the first place. This all is God's goodness. He has been so, so good to us. I can't explain how the losses of the past years, not just this bump in the road, have left me humble. And grateful. Somehow He sits with me in that quiet place and I can hurt or have joy, and it's ok. It's ok when it's not ok...sometimes the miracle is that there is life at all and when we wake up, there is another day. And that all we actually have or hold is now, this moment, and nothing else is guaranteed.
I watch golden showers of bees dancing in the mid-afternoon sunlight and it's joy. I hope they feel mine.