A friend asked me the other day if I’m still writing. As I’m randomly clearing my head on paper, trying to start the day with gratitude, and to process some of life’s questions without over thinking them, I realize that I’ve not finished, let alone published a single piece of writing over the entire summer.
I’d like to say I took a summer sabbatical. I’ve always liked the sound of that… “Sorry, I won’t be able to do that (insert whatever thing someone wants from me here)... I’ll be on sabbatical.”
Although that word does sound fabulous, it kind of implies that one is getting a paid rest. Or a rest at the least. But restful would not be an adequate description of my summer.
Time off was not on the agenda. Moving on was.
Since May, I’ve packed up my home of 11 years, the place my children spent the majority of their formative childhood years and put it on the market. I dealt with cleaning and showings and offers and counter offers and more paperwork than seems possible.
I’ve found homes for my sweet goats and chicken, some of whom have been a part of my life almost as long as my Boy Child, and all of whom were loved.
I sold our house and moved my family and their lifetime’s accumulation of stuff, driving my big 24 foot moving truck with Sacajawea painted on the side and seemingly no shocks into the night.
I’ve gone through roller coasters of legal nonsense and headaches that cost ridiculous amounts of time, money and pain.
I held our beloved dog and good friend as he took his last breath. Then dug for hours in the night, and laid him to rest by moonlight.
I didn’t do any of these things alone though. I had peeps. Awesome kids, super kind partner, loving friends and supportive community.
With them by my side, I also did lots of other things that made my life feel full, but in good ways. There were summer concerts, big & small, camping in lovely locations, water parks, meeting my partner’s parents, a couple of quick trips to pretty places with nice people, and getting settled in our wonderful new home.
It’s felt a lot like a roller coaster with highs of awesome good stuff and lows of really friggen hard things. The ups and downs can be sort of overwhelming at times, but as soon as I start to think my life is intense, I get on Facebook for 5 minutes and see that I am far from alone. Life, apparently is intense.
A friend who’s still in her 30s is dealing with breast cancer. She's not a smoker or drinker, but a homeschool mom with 4 kids. Another friend has a son almost the same age as my Boy Child, and while I am flipping out about my kid going to the store without permission and getting into tussles, her boy has spent months in a hospital bed in pain that doctors can’t fix. And then there’s a friend with a marriage that you have visibly seen the love in, who confesses that life has broken them to the point of separation.
How the friggen heck does this stuff happen?
It’s incomprehensible that the same life that hands out the laughter and friendship and smiles on the faces of our children also hands these crazy and unimaginable intensities. But whether I can understand it or not, it still happens.
So many of the things in my own little life that I pondered and over analyzed, I also started to write about, but never finished. Of the 9 drafts that I started over the summer, I only finished one, and then I somehow managed to delete it in a formatting error with no back up. Ironically, it was an essay on abundance.
But, moving on….that’s the theme here. I guess we all just keep moving on. That’s the beauty of it, and that’s the oppressive part of it. I wonder how we do it, and the only answer I can think of comes from a children’s book called “We’re Going on A Bear Hunt” which I have read aloud 9,475,682 times. (There is no actual hunting and no bears are harmed in the making of the book :-) )
“We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We have to go through it.”
And we do.
As we were decorating the grave of our sweet old dog friend, My Girl Child pointed out how exhausting grief is, but that nothing stops~ the world just keeps moving on.
If we're lucky, we have people by our side to love us when we are grieving and who we can also love up when they need it. Having people to laugh and cry with is what keeps us moving.
I’m more grateful than ever for those smiles and laughs and all the huge love that surrounds me.
And I’m super grateful when I see the sun shining on the shoulders of a sick kid who hasn’t seen it in too long, and when I read the courageous words of a mother who is planning her scarf wardrobe to cover her head that she knows will soon be hairless (and whom I think could rock a neon pink wig) and when I see a photo of a date night with the faces of people who you can tell still love each other no matter how hard life gets.
These people don’t know it, but they are giving strength and courage and hope to so many of us who witness their stories and hardships and triumphs, whether up close or from afar. When you don’t talk or see each other on a regular basis, you might not realize the complicated ways that your stories are woven together with other people.
When my friend asked me about writing, I had been selfishly thinking that I should get back to it because it helped me heal and process. She told me that I should get back to it because stories helped other people.
And they do. I don’t mean my stories that roam and ramble and often have no discernible point, but all of our stories of being stuck and of realizing that sometimes you can’t go over it or under it~ Our universal stories of finding a way to go through it, and eventually moving on.