May 14, 2020

9CFDD24B-0EEB-4E23-A7D2-5BAA6CAEB71AThis morning my 93-year-old grandma got to sing happy birthday through her computer screen, to my 6-year-old nephews. They showed off their handsome faces, dressed to the nines in their button-down shirts and bowties. She smiled and waved and “wowed” their antics. From across the ocean, now face to face. Technology is amazing.
This afternoon my grandmother’s brother-in-law died. It was a peaceful passing, and I am grateful for the daughter who cared for him in the home for those final days.
I want to say that all is well. My husband and I have all we need in our home; and we have work and homestead routines to occupy us. There is much that is right.
And yet.
All is not right. I want my grandmother to be with her sister right now. When my grandfather died, I watched them comfort each other. At one point in the family funeral gatherings, I saw them together on the master bed, arms draped over each other, able to sleep peacefully in the quiet company unique to sisters. GramBea’s world had fallen apart but, for a little while at least, all was well . . .
I wish we could have spoken in person to relay the news of this passing. But we could not.
I want to be able to hold GramBea’s hand right now. But I cannot.
I can handle that.
At the moment, however, I am battling the frustration of knowing that the sisters cannot be together. I have no answers for this madness of a world we live in right now. I do the best I can to keep informed and up-to-date; yet at times it seems as if the more I learn the more ignorant I feel, overwhelmed by the rate at which things are changing and by the swirl of new, and often conflicting, information.
In my little sphere of life, though, I know one thing right here, right now: things are not as they should be.
Would that I could wave my magic wand, bringing the two sisters together for solace in the grief.
This afternoon I see a missed call when I come in from milking the goat. I call her back immediately, worrying . . .
She sounds ok. We talk about the birthday party this morning. She says she is ok. We chat a few moments longer and the conversation lulls. “I love you,” she says. “GramBea . . .” I pause. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been good at verbalizing emotions regardless—especially not with family. What comes out of my mouth is cringe-worthy at best. Something along the lines of, “You’re in my heart.” I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, never mind why I say it.
But she hears me.

face to face

May 10, 2020

Today I got to see my GramBea. They “opened” the facility enough to allow us to wave through the glass from the entryway. For the first time in months I saw her face; but ironically, I’m not seeing her, the past few months have given us a sweeter time of connecting than we had before. Something about being limited to daily phone conversations has opened a portal I couldn’t have imagined, considering how infamously horrid both of us are at telephone chats …or so I thought. But a gift of this strangeness of time we live in is the discovery of ways we can surprise each other, and ourselves, with realizations of ways we can adapt, with resilience, to change. And to uncertainty. So today I am grateful for this waving through the window, and chance to deliver a mason jar of wild roses; grateful for the tears prompted by a sighting …”through a glass dimly.” But thank heavens this is not it. Thank heavens that “then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12)


May 8, 2020

IMG_1019Today my professor asked this question:

It is the last day of your first semester, please describe how you are feeling at this moment in time.

Today my response was this:

At this moment in time I am feeling . . . all the things.
I feel afraid—fear over the state of the world’s health, physical and emotional.
I fear that this reaction we are having to the real danger of COVID-19 is going to create a devastation far greater than the illness itself. We have become a world of people drawn into themselves, living in an unreal reality of isolation. I fear that the mental toll that this is taking will have terrible ramifications when we try to re-enter society without distance.
I fear for all who have lost their jobs and who are left with no way to provide for their families—and who risk losing more than mere income as a result.
I fear for all who have lost, and will lose, loved ones to the disease—and who will lost the ability to properly grieve the loss due to distancing restrictions.
I fear the helplessness that I feel, and that we all will be feeling or quite some time, as we navigate the muddy waters of a future no one can properly prepare for, with such great unknowns and so little control.
I have no idea what to do.
So I pour flour and yeast and salt into a bowl. I add water, and I knead the dough. I take comfort in the act of feeding my little household . . . and I am grateful for our daily bread.


May 5, 2020

Mornings are hard. And one thing I’ve noticed lately is that the longer quarantine lasts (and the more same-ness each day brings) the harder it is for me to find motivation. A part of that is my personality, mind you, in that I tend to start each day with a level of nervousness that gradually subsides as I work through the business of the day and get closer to the sweet spot that evening is. I know this isn’t a completely healthy way to live, and I am a bit embarrassed to admit it but, well, there it is.
Since I’m in disclosure mode at the moment, I will also say that this morning’s darkness of the mind was particularly harsh.
I wanted to be lazy about milking and give up before milking her out (I resisted this temptation thanks to the greater pull of the desire to have fresh milk as long as possible).
I didn’t feel like running. In fact, my body felt like a dead weight. But I knew how much brighter my mindset is after having done it. So I did. And I will admit to praying a possibly-childish prayer that God would make it a good run. I wanted the endorphins. I craved them—and I’m still nursing a daily grudge-against-the-universe about not being able to swim (my true exercise-love).
I most definitely did not want to tackle the day’s schoolwork! Keyboarding practice … grrrr. Semester exams . . . yikes!
So it was that the day began.
But a few hours into the morning I checked my email. There in my inbox was not one. Not two. But three emails from a person who brings the sort of joy I cannot begin to describe. When I think about this friend, my heart swells and a smile begins, regardless of my emotional state at the time. She is my hero. Truly. A woman who has devoted her life to sharing beauty (she is an art teacher) with children who live in a land where daily survival is a real question. And she is the friend who taught me the sort of devotion that I wish I could claim even a remote ability to demonstrate. The day that I flew away from her village, she wept. I had never, ever, seen someone cry at the prospect of my not being with them, and it floored me. I was flummoxed by conflicting emotions battling within—flattered and awed, but also shamed by my inability to feel anything similar. Jilly taught me what love looks like.
Back to those emails: one was a long and meaty update on her life, in its lovely simplicity—snippets of interactions with those around her, tales of her in the garden, and descriptions of new pets in her life. The second email was a series of photos illustrating that loveliness. And the third—the best of the bunch—was a recording of her voice, singing a song she had written.
This inbox gift could not have come at a better time. It was like the rainbow Peter and I saw this past week: a stunning display of beauty that, though it may last only a few moments, shatters the soul as it points us towards the infinite, and ultimate, beauty that we were created to be a part of, and that we are destined to become. Life is hard. But, every once in a while, we get to step out of the drudgery and into the light.