Saturday, October 26, 2013

searching for a castle

There’s a game called castle spotting that you play if you’ve ever traveled in Europe, especially in the great wooded hills or mountains along rivers.  Because we lived in the Rheinland-Pfalz area, our most traveled roads often led us along the Rhine or the Mosel rivers.  No matter how many times we would drive these roads, we would always find a new castle, or be astounded by the beauty of one we’ve passed 100 times.  Spotting castles is a pastime that becomes almost second nature; when you see the land begin to rise, your eyes automatically search for the outline of ruins. 
   We’ve moved to a region of the Midwest known as the Paleozoic Plateau famous for its deeply carved river valleys.  Placed along the Mississippi River it is scenic and beautiful with bluffs rising out of the horizon like mountains.  And it’s been more than once that each of us, in turn, have caught ourselves searching.  We’re still looking for castles. 
 The region has its own charm, though no castles. Right now the hills and bluffs are lit up with the brilliant colors of autumn.  As the roads become more traveled and the landmarks more familiar, less and less do we expect to see a great looming structure on a distant point in the horizon.
   Routines are becoming established.  Friends are being made.  Futures are being thought about, decisions are being made.  We joined a church and bought a house.  We found scout troops; Sarah got her license.   Everyday the house feels more like home and the community feels more like ours.  Yet, with every step forward it still feels like this is still somewhere he should be, too.  Some mornings when the alarm goes off I still think I hear him breathing next to me.  I still want there to be a castle on that hill. 
   I recently had a chance to have a conversation with my closest friend, whose company I’ve been missing badly.  I was sharing some of my grief and frustrations and she quoted the 23rd Psalm to me. 
   Though she knew it’s been quoted to me 1,000 times, she wanted to remind me of something her daughter had brought to her attention (her very wise daughter is, I’m proud to admit, my daughter’s best friend).  It says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.”  It does not say that God is with you when you decide to be still, or are bored, or frustrated by things that aren’t happening.  It says that it is GOD who led you to those waters, sat you there, and said, “Lie down”.
    I want to post things on this blog – the good along with the bad - To share some of the fun everyday things we’ve been able to enjoy, or some of the huge milestones we’ve crossed, but it’s hard.  It’s hard to tell you why it’s hard, too.  I’m struggling to figure out the identity I have now.  The different and unique dynamic I have with my kids.  Sometimes I am terribly bored and frustrated by loneliness.  I hate when people I never hear from randomly like or comment on my Facebook activity, and I know that it’s just because you want me to be “okay” and you want us to be doing well – and that you wish you might’ve done something more.  And, sometimes we are doing pretty great, and almost always there’s the same, small circle rushing to surround us– but it needs to be “okay” that sometime we aren’t, that I am not okay.  Because, mostly I just want that breathing in the bed next to me to be real.   For there still to be a castle up on that hill. 

    "My dear old friend, take me for a spin 
Two wolves in the dark, running in the wind 
I'm letting go, but I've never felt better 
Passing by all the monsters in my head 
    I move slow and steady 
But I feel like a waterfall 
Yeah, I move slow and steady 
Past the ones that I used to know 
   And I'm never ready 
'Cause I know, I know, I know 
That time won't let me 
Show what I want to show" 
                                                                                   (Of Monsters and Men, "Slow and Steady")

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

a thousand years between

If you asked me what the hardest part of this past year was, I would have to answer "waking up.  every day."  That moment between being fully consciousness and blissfully unaware.  every single day.
   In August we participated in Muckfest - a mud run with proceeds benefitting MS research.  It was a good time, but there were a few obstacles that proved challenging.  One in particular comes to mind - you had to grab unto this carousel of hanging ropes when it came to the start area and then the rope spun around over an enormous puddle of mud to the other side where you could drop down on a dirt path.  I don't know if it was the running start, my arm strength, or what the deal was, but I was not able to hoist myself up onto the knot tied to the end of the rope.  After three attempts I just had to jump into the puddle of mud and trudge/be dragged through the mud while holding on to the bottom of the rope.P
    It has been a year, today, since Rob died - almost 2 years since the chaos of the diagnosis began.  The kids and I left Germany on June 17th and started our new chapter.  Everyday since then has been like being stuck in a never ending circle of sludge.  Leaving the military community/life and learning to navigate all the challenges.  There have been ups - and there have been downs.  There were some really bad days.  But, for whatever it's worth, I never went "under".  There was always that rope. Most often I think God put that rope in the hands of those able to immediately surround me with support - my father-in-law, Bob, and his wife, Elaine and my brother, Rolfy, and his girlfriend, Suzy.  But sometimes, when there were some pretty overwhelming and dark days,  missing him so much it was like a tangible weight or the uncertainty what to do, God would nudge someone else to pick up the rope and keep my head just above the muck.
    We are adapting.  We are finding our way.  It is slow, it is painful, it is fraught with challenges and complications.  but always, always there is grace.
  Grace to keep holding that rope and knowing God won't let it go.

 "Measuring the summer's day
I only find it slips away to grey
The hours they bring me pain
   Tangerine, Tangerine
living reflections from a dream
I was her love
she was my queens
and now 1,000 years between
Thinking how it used to be
Does she still remember times like these
To think of us again
and I do........"
 - Led Zeppelin (Tangerine)