Tag Archives: worry

Red Faced

For the first time in way too long I took a vacation.

I don’t mean a road trip on the way to my next home, a wedding or a funeral. For two years I saved for this leave. Even with the kids’ help my carefully planned time away from home included lots of air travel departing during inconvenient hours. Most important, it provided down-time with my darling offspring.

Since I would not be available to help gather the tomatoes, they had to be harvested before I left.

Seasoned travelers and most smart girls know to get together with friends the week before a vacation. Together you shop, update your wardrobe, enjoy a meal or two, and they share the little details that enhanced their recent journeys.

Instead, Izzy and I spent that time spreading tarps beneath tomato vines. Then we shook and cut the vines, loosing tomatoes. This also scattered THE DUST that collected since the sprinklers stopped rinsing everything clean daily. And then we drug and lifted the loaded tarps into wheelbarrows, stirring up the dirt that had been drying for a week.

Yeah. We know how to have a good time!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)

Despite masks and goggles, the dust set me to sneezing, with my sinuses filling and then draining profusely. My skin also itched terribly – especially the tip of my nose. The following day, my apex nasi* became tender and by the next day it was incredibly sore. *I looked it up. It’s a thing.

And did I mention RED? Not a flattering shade either.

The day before I was to depart on the next length of my travel, despite all known precautions and remedies, the redness became deep purplish-red. Yes, a painful heat radiated from above my columella. (*It’s the flesh that separates the nostrils.)

Makeup barely concealed the colors resembling orangutans backsides. What’s more, it needed touch-ups every couple of hours…

As I boarded my first flight I felt like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer guiding the last remaining passengers onto our plane. Still, I actually appreciated people quickly averting their eyes from my bleak beak.

During the flights I imagined AlmostSixYearOld taking one look at my face and bursting into tears in fear of this unfamiliar, scary-looking person. I could well imagine EightYearOld staring in wonder or stifling giggles.

Unfair as it was, I was determined to enjoy time with my gang – and to shop around the airports between flights for a miraculous concealer, mask or perhaps a stylish niqab. As anticipation rose, I imagined the heat and pressure on my face did also.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

To be continued…

 

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Filed under A Door Ajar

Humpty Dumpty Tuesday

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Initially I felt alarmed by the sudden, harsh reality that today is Wednesday, Hump Day – and not Tuesday. Since my brand new Fitbit Dashboard recorded elevated levels attesting that’s actually understated, I admit I freaked out the first half-hour of my day. However, I must quickly add, I only wasted the second fifteen minutes like that – the first were actually lovely.

The recap: halfway into my organic, non-GMO, unsweetened soy, Italian roast, honey-amaretto latte and a first bottle of water, I noticed the satellite clock read Wednesday. Wednesday, not Tuesday. That the…

Instinctively, my heart rate rocketed, I sprang  walked circumspectly up the stairs, to my laptop to find the draft I intended to post early Tuesday morning (rather than late-morning) remains a draft. Confused and slightly shaken, I thought through the events of the past 24 hours or so:

  • Opal was home most of the day after taking a weekend off. I usually have the house to myself most days – this is not typical.
  • I must think and remember it’s winter. While everyone north of us endures lower temps, snow and ice, we’ve enjoyed sunny afternoons in the high 60’s – mid 70’s
  • Roan (who works in Retail) arrived home yesterday morning at the regular time – for the eighth consecutive day; also not typical.
  • I had invested unscheduled time, actually far more time than I anticipated, downloading and starting up my Fitbit account, charging and recharging my worn cell and tablet batteries and, hoping to raise the Fitbit bar, I invested extra time in fitness workouts for my initial Fitbit entry.
  • Opal and I had purged the refrigerator, freezer and pantry (and then, of course I washed the refrigerator) – not typical for a mid-month weekday.
  • I rotated my mattress – also not typical for a mid-month weekday. Least to mention the chore took me three times longer than usual as I performed it unassisted (those who camouflage storage boxes beneath the box springs with a bed skirt understand).
  • This just in: according to Fitbit I slept for 6 hr 26 mins, 3 x awake, 6 x restless.

With so many variables, I accept it is inarguably Wednesday, not Tuesday.

More notable still, I’m actually celebrating the fact that I’m still walking (1,688 steps so far), breathing and the world continued to turn without my Tuesday post. Not that long ago I would be going through some epic mental penance and flagellation exercises for not fulfilling my entire previous day’s agenda, trying to justify my existence in the universe. Though I feel slightly sheepish and will most likely experience some degree of disappointment as today progresses and reveals more unmet expectations, Fitbit confirms I’m in good shape with only 4.8 pounds to go to my target weight. I can live with that.

Especially in America too many grand parents, moreover great-grand parents are in far worse shape. On the average our dimensions change dramatically and we gain weight as we age, without regard to our resources, education, experience and genetic backgrounds. I am indeed blessed. While I suffer occasional aches and pains, and I don’t run more than a few yards at a time (literally) or skip as I like to anymore, time has not ravaged my body nearly as harshly as many of my peers. As compared to once or twice a year, I misconstrue the actual day and date more frequently occasionally. However, I know many millennials that do likewise also.

golden-Jesus -moon-2432x4320_77278love all the timeThe difference in me today is all about perspective and grace. While I continue the practice of loving myself the way God loves me, I learn more about life and relationships than ever before – including my relationship with myself. While I’m still climbing uphill, I do so because I took on another peak, not because I arrived at the pinnacle and set up camp.

Okay. So, I momentarily “lost” a day this week. So what? Time didn’t stop for anyone I know of. I’m not shattered. So, I’ll just roll with it, and hope I somehow bless someone else that might feel like they’re losing it. What’s more, I’ll likely enjoy Friday even more for posting what I’d intended for yesterday!

 

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

One Unforgettable Day

As the morning light crept across the floor I noticed black, wavy hair had already collected under the dining table. I took the Swiffer from the broom closet and wiped the floor from the front room carpet to the back door – again. As I tossed the sheet, fluffy with dog hair into the waste basket Hopi, our black, Golden-Aussie dog trotted into the room and stopped. She sensed my anxiety and studied me closely. 
 
I clicked my tongue and extended my hand toward her. She came near and sat beside me, leaning on me. I stroked her head as if doing so comforted her more than me. Hopi somehow knew what we all felt – something was not right. Nobody wanted to think about it. But we all felt it.
 
It was Tuesday, April 14, 2003. My second son deployed for Iraq on His grandpa’s birthday the end of February. By the second week of March, Nathan was able to send short emails every day or so. He phoned a couple of times, briefly reporting that he and his men were all good. But it had been almost two weeks since anyone heard from him.
 
Now, looking through the doorway to the computer monitor across the room, I saw the screensaver still undisturbed – no new email. Unable to sleep I’d gotten up and busied myself by cleaning the house hours before. Exhausted, but restless, I still needed to do something. I reluctantly said, “Walk?” Hopi stood, tail sweeping high and wide as she trotted across the room to take her leash in her mouth from the doorknob, carried it back to me and stood expectantly. Her eyes fixed on me, watching closely.
 
“Good morning.” Kerry called from the far side of the office.
 
“Hey, good morning.” I called back. 
 
The phone rang, startling us all. I spun on my heel, reaching for the handset on the table next to me, sucked in a deep breath and pressed the button. Hopi sat when she saw my shoulders droop slightly. Instead of the static-laced, overseas connection I’d hoped for, the recorded telemarketer squawked for a moment before I hung up. I heard Kerry sigh loudly as he hung up the handset in the office at the same time. Something had to give.
 
I took the leash from Hopi and she trotted before me a few feet toward the front door. As I passed the office doorway, Kerry leaned around his computer monitor, smiling at me – my sunshine. I paused hoping to not see any trace of concern which would increase mine. “Telemarketer” I reported already forgetting we’d both answered our handsets at the same time. We each considered something pleasant to say, but settled for silent smiles.
 
“We’re going to get some fresh air. You want to take a break?” I asked him.
 
“I tossed the ball for her when I got back from the depot. I want to try to finish this by eleven.” nodding to his screen while studying my face. He’d taken my fourth son Quinn to the train so I could stay by the phone. I nodded. Work was good and a healthy distraction. I had surrendered working on my manuscript for the more immediate gratification I get from cleaning.
 
“I need to walk” I reiterated.
 
He agreed, “It’ll do you good, Honey” still watching the doorway. We both sighed, waiting. I wondered if he too could practically see the apprehension in the air. With another sigh I started toward the door. Walking down the hall I lifted my coat from the hook, pulling it on. The newspaper clipping with the names of the troops already k.i.a., taped to the wall fluttered as we passed. The moments seemed longer, each step taking greater effort. At the door I pushed one hand through the sleeve, turned the doorknob with the other and then zipped the coat closed.
 
Stepping outside, Hopi right behind me, I stretched my arms up and then bent down to touch my shoes, amazed at the effort it took. Hopi sat waiting for me to click her leash onto her harness. It’s strange how I didn’t notice the harsh Chicago weather for the last week – it simply didn’t matter to me. Instead I imagined my son and his company finding relief from the average 80 degrees in Baghdad. Closing the door behind us, Hopi and I crossed the street to the park. 
 
As we walked the length of the block I envisioned Nathan and the company playing volleyball in the Iraqi sand, blowing off some steam. Then I realized they would be doing so in combat boots and battle dress uniforms. Scratch that thought. We were almost back where we’d started. I envied Hopi walking calmly, happily alongside me, her breathing slowing steadily.
 
“Hey!” I called, as though Kerry hadn’t heard us banging the storm door coming in. Anticipating I’d ask if there was any news, (like he wouldn’t have found me had there been), he called out, “Hi Babe.” And then, “Nothing yet.”
 
As if someone pulled my plug, my energy drained, exhaustion set in. The fact is, I hadn’t really slept other than brief cat naps for days. Before sunup I’d poured a cup of coffee, realized I’d already finished two, and then I poured it back into the pot. Feeling lost, I mechanically wiped the counters with a towel and then went to the table before I realized I had done that before sweeping. I reflected upon how the bursts of phone calls from friends at church and the rest of my family in other states kept me going like they hadn’t in years.
 
I sat down at the table. A moment later I rose, and stepped to my computer in the office again. Checking my email gave me no relief. I began to key whatever words came to mind: worry, fear, trepidation, war, danger, Nathan, please call or write. After a few more sentences that made no sense I took the keyboard from my lap and set it back on the desk. I stood, announcing more to the air than to Kerry that I was going downstairs. Kerry silently followed me with his eyes. He could see what I felt. There was nothing more to say. He nodded and went back to keying.
 
I started the washer and then realized there was nothing for me to put into it. I turned it off again and began washing the lid and the surfaces. While I wanted to think about times past, wiping grass and dirt from the top of the machine during little league seasons, I shook it off to keep my head in the present. This should not be so hard after raising four sons. But this was different from all his previous tours, even Bosnia-Herzegovina. Everything changed on September 11, 2001.
 
I walked back up the stairs, instantly recognizing the pronounced difference in the atmosphere. Kerry had stopped and stood in the doorway on his way out of the office. “She is right here” he said into the phone. Locking his eyes with mine, assuring me he was not moving, he handed the phone to me. Confused that I hadn’t heard it ring, something else struck a very flat, discomforting chord in me. I thought I felt a shock race from my hand to my feet and back as I raised the phone to my ear. 
 
 
“Hey Mom.” It is Nathan’s weary, reserved voice. But he doesn’t say Ma’am, as he has for some 15 years. The suppressed dread that had been stagnating for days, exploded.
I struggle to speak, “Oh, Nate…” 
“Listen Mom. I’m okay…” time slows. I recognize his voice is controlled – eerily, too controlled. I feel it  – I know what is coming. 
“Uh… I took a hit, Mom…” Again, not Ma’am.
I gasp, but no air flowed in. I glance up to see Kerry hiding his face behind his hands, his chest wretches. I must keep my focus on Nathan. I manage a quick breath.
“You are going to be alright, Natty…” I instinctively use the pet name I called him as a toddler that comforted him when he was sick or sad.
“I am, Mom.” The last time I heard fear in that voice was long ago, but louder than his voice, it screamed at me, mocked me now. I feel like someone shoved a wide blade in my diaphragm. I do not imagine fear in my son’s voice. Talking to his mom, it is real. The gravity sinks in, pushing that blade deeper. I pull myself tight, every muscle hard. Deep inside I find words, 
“I’m right here Natty. I’m not going anywhere. You can tell me. It’s okay.” I want to breathe, but I can’t risk drowning out his voice. He sounds strangely apologetic, 
“I’m gonna be okay, but I’m pretty messed up right now.”
He stammered slightly, “I – uh, Ma’am, my leg’s in a few pieces, an’ my boots are tore up…” 
This is not his usual precise speech, his carefully chosen words. This casual, slurred language coming from my uber-disciplined soldier son is dispersing my last shred of hope. This nightmare is real. I silently bare down again and shove,
“It’s okay, Natty. You’re going to be just fine. I know it. God’s not done with you yet.”
“Uh, roger that, Ma’am,” his familiar tone returns. He continues, “I was in full body armor, so I was pretty much covered, I’m not sure about my junk…” I heard someone very close to his head say, “The family is secure, Sarge. There are a couple of pieces of shrapnel in your glutes. Repeat, Sarge, the family is secure.” 
I hear Nathan acknowledge the corpsman, and goes on telling me, 
“…but shrapnel tore through my other hand. This awesome corpsman offered me his phone so I called you. Uh. I’m gonna be okay Ma’am.”
“I know you are, Son. Where are you now?” 
I am not surprised to hear him reply immediately, “Ma’am, I’m in a field hospital not far from Baghdad on Highway 8. They’re going to transport me to Landstuhl pretty quick here. And hey Ma’am…” 
I can hear a corpsman assuring him. I feel Kerry’s hands gently rest on my shoulders, now aware he is praying.
“Nate, good men have you now and I won’t stop praying until I can kiss your face.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I know you will and I appreciate… Hey Mom, I’m real good an’ uh, I love you Mom.”
“I love you Natty. I always will.” I could hear him breathe calmly, deeply. I said softly, “I will see you real soon.”
He quietly agreed, “Oh, yes Ma’am.”
And now I hear nothing.
My instincts had been spot-on again. I stand frozen. Silent. Time stops. I do not feel. I do not think. I can not allow myself to feel.

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Filed under The World According to Roo