Sunday, June 25, 2017

#30, June 25, 2015, Where to Stand

For my own sanity, I have to admit that I am suffering—and not able to appreciate every day the privilege of caring for Dave. There is frustration, too—the disappointment of lost abilities and canceled plans, the contradiction of how he looks and sounds with what he says, the weariness of all that needs to be done.

I am almost always tired. I would like to say that it is not the sacrifice that wearies me, but sometimes it is. Bryan is coming home this weekend so I can go to Milwaukee and that much is good, but there is anxiety in being away, too. 

I want it to be over.
I want him back healthy.
I will not get what I want.

So what is the purpose of this place? I am in school—God’s school. I am learning empathy, obedience, patience, unselfishness. I am learning to seek pleasure in and hope for what is promised rather than what is happening. This is my training. This is my war. I did not earn it, but it is given me for my betterment by God. If I am to succeed, I must find firm purchase in Him alone.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#29, June 22, 2015, Aiming to Soar

Second day of summer. Dreamed about getting a job in the courthouse, woke with the excitement of it. But that, of course, is not possible.

Read about the holiness of subjecting ourselves to one another—how God is both training and restraining me.

Dave dreams almost every night and likes to go for drives to look at the lush countryside. It is life for him. The green hills fill him with delight.

Maybe I will start to take him to rehab. It seems like he is getting weaker—eating less and losing vitality again. Like his body sinks. Would like to see his spirit, at least, soar. I wonder if I can help him?

Image: Chapman Cultural Center

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#28, June 21, 2015, Not Amused

So here we are, at the longest days of the year, and I want to taste the loveliness of life, and lean into it, and be wrapped in it. Instead, I feel beset by trouble.

The whole cat thing still bothers me and I don’t know why. Then this weekend, Bryan came home to treat Dave to two things he wanted to do—a concert and a good French dinner—and Dave was too ill to do either of them. 

Feeling trapped by unchangeable circumstance. People crowd in and I’m feeling like I need to be alone. I’ve often said that to love God is to accept what comes my way as OK. Not doing so well at that just now. 

Oddly, I do best when nothing presses—no visitors, no holidays, no outside commitments. These days, even when they bring hardship, go more smoothly. They don’t ask more than I can give. Add one more thing, one more hard or unexpected need or requirement, and I am dismantled.

So am I reacting wrong in design or implementation? In implementation, without doubt. I don’t trust after all. Circumstances still drive me over the top, steal my peace. I feel undone.

Today is Sunday and as I read my Bible and pray it, as I study a book about monastic culture, I realize a couple of things. First, that monks made no apology for seeking eternal meanings in everything they did or read. I have been mocked for this, thought too high and mighty that I couldn’t or didn’t want to enjoy a large dose of simple entertainment. 

But, and the 2nd thing—I’m wondering whether my current unease results from reading a good but not eternally significant Stephen King book and, at the same time, passing odd chunks of time playing a computer game. This morning, as I settle into serious reading, the knot in my stomach loosens and rattled nerves soothe a bit. Maybe I am not made to be amused.

Image: PinCaption

Monday, June 19, 2017

#27, June 19, 2015, Another Dead Cat

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

I’m writing this as a matter of record because I haven’t yet worked it out—maybe I don’t want to.

 One of Dave’s cats took ill yesterday—panting and not coming upstairs. Weak looking. Reluctantly, I made an appointment at the vet, letting Dave go to PT by himself. I stopped at Robin’s on the way there and when I got to the vet, I let the cat out of its carrier and she seemed sick, but relatively normal. When the doctor walked into the room, however, the cat went stiff and stuck her tongue out, gasping. He doc applied the stethoscope. The cat was dead. Just like that. Without any preamble, right in the middle of its life, wanting to get on with other things. Alive one minute and dead the next. When I got home and buried her, I kept thinking it was a mistake. She was still warm. But her eyes, they were all cloudy.

So this is the way it goes, I keep thinking. I’d never see anything die before. It just—goes. And I wonder now, is this the way it’s going to be? Not with warning, but suddenly, with no goodbye? It could. It happened to Robin and Nick.

The odd part is all the life that surrounded it. Meeting Robin’s boyfriend and buying strawberries, talking to Bryan about today’s dinner plans. None of that changed.

The cat didn’t look dead, either, except for her eyes. And all I wanted to do was apologize for every casual brush-off I’d given her—only a cat—and one of the other 12 we still have—unwilling sharers of this life. Something I really didn’t want but didn’t want to die either.

So, I know this—I will still have massive regrets. There are no do-overs.
Oh, God, have mercy.
And He says, I AM.

Friday, June 16, 2017

#26, June 16, 2015, Harvest

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

Summer has settled in. Mowed the lawn in shorts and tank yesterday—can come outside in nearly nothing and feel warm full through, then today smart from a mild sunburn on my back. Yesterday, picked two bunches of lettuce, each as big as my head, way beyond anything I’ve ever grown before. Tasted them with fresh strawberries. Unbelievable. Should have picked only one lettuce, but had to feel the size of them, fill my arms with them, the wonder of finally growing something as rich as them.

Today it’s so humid that these pages feel thick, but the humidity brings a lushness. The day is just starting. The mockoranges bloom and share their sweetness. A breeze stirs the leaves. And this is life. A new day.

We tried an overnight in Decorah and I think that, for Dave, the experience was mixed. We met Knute and Nancy there—spent a wonderful evening, but the effort of sleeping away from home was exhausting for him. He was very quiet last night, inscrutable. We will see how he feels today.

For me, to be back at the Winneshiek Hotel felt like home. Not sure what that means, but I did so like to sink down in the tub. I may have had one glass of wine too many, and my stomach suffered, but other than that, for me it was near perfect and I knew it would be as we walked in. We got a room facing the beautiful main street, window open, curtains blowing in the wind.

This day I start at home but outside, having mowed and put everything outside in order yesterday so I can enjoy it without a feeling of necessity today. This is my life. Yes, I would change some things if I could, but you, Lord, have ordained it as it is, and it still bears some sweetness. I love you, sweet Lord. Thank you for these breaths.


Monday, June 12, 2017

#25, June 12/14, 2015, The Engineer

This is the next in a series of transcripts from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.

Yesterday, I was telling Robin that I was tired of this—of being nurse rather than wife, of being married at all. I do not want Dave to die, but this life, this marriage, is wan and pale in the face of his illness.

Then today, I read in LeClerq about monastic culture and the desire for God, and about suffering and its purpose—how sin and suffering, both physical and spiritual illness—bind us to earth. They draw us so that we can yearn for God. That is their purpose—to show us what we so desperately lack so that we can yearn for, reach for, what God supplies.

That’s what Acts 17 says. God engineers circumstance for the sole purpose of drawing us to Him. And Paul’s thorn in his flesh was God’s way of keeping him near.

We keep thinking that God wants us to be happy, but what He really wants is for us to be happy with Him. He will ruin all other happiness.

LeClerq confirms that there are 3 levels of approaching God, all useful in their place.
1. Reading about Him, about holy living. Talking about it and trying to behave like the holy men and women we admire.
2. Reading the Bible carefully and actively. Learning exactly what Jesus and what God did, incorporating them into action.
3. Prayer that brings me before God, opening myself to His direct touch, letting go of humanity in preference to Him and His word, work, and intention.

It is this last that I have done very little, but I have to remember all the richness I have known in the times I have yielded to it.

I think about how I have lost the habit of yearning for God and begun yearning instead for life. No wonder I feel frustrated sometimes. I already have as much of life as is permitted me. God, however, and the perfection of His heaven, that I can reach for. It has no bottom.

Image from: I Waste So Much Time

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

#24, June 6, 2015, Single Thread

This is the next in the series of transcriptions from my journal, written during the last year of Dave's life.
The yard is lush and green. I harvested spinach yesterday and planted more. The sun is already halfway across the eastern sky at 7:30 in the morning. And I’m still fighting my life, battling for something not given right now. It’s no use trying to chisel out some normalcy. I have to decide—have to dive into what I’m given.

There’s a sweetness I’m missing because I don’t want to give in to it. I’m looking for normalcy and don’t know what it is. It’s not anything I want. It’s not even what Dave wants.

All I know is that it’s Dave’s job to be sick and mine to care for him as well as I can. But even in that, we can carve out some joy together. I keep trying to get ready to be alone, keep rushing what will come after, but there’s no doing that.

I want to do what we can do now. I want to smile and laugh and love each other. We can still do that. There is summer left and on the days he can, we can take drives or breathe in some green somewhere. He would like that and so would I. And there is the pleasure of pleasing him.

One single thread of spider silk is hanging from the top of the arbor all the way to the arm of my chair. All I would have to do break it is to wave a careless arm and it would be gone. But it shines in the sun. I think I will leave it.

I need to stop running away from my life in the name of saving it. I need to demolish the compartments I have built and am encouraged to build for protection. I need to slide all the way in. Because God is good, there is something beautiful there. The moments of life escape so easily. Like this one.

image: Jack Woodville London