I’ve been waffling back and forth whether or not to actually broach this topic, but it was a pretty Big Thing in our lives on the farm, as a family, even for myself and my writing. And I thought it might give some encouragement to anyone who might have/be going through similar circumstances, or at least provide a minute of entertainment for your weekend.?
It all began at Christmastime, when it’s cold but not white up here in Arcadia, where the songs are more along the lines of “I’m dreaming of a white Thanksgiving” (except OUR Thanksgiving was green for a change, since we’d packed up and went to Virginia to celebrate with my brother’s family. It was our first time going away–like, away, away–for a holiday).
Anyhoo, Christmas rolled around and my brother and his family came up for a LONG awaited Christmas together. He hadn’t been home for the holiday since he enlisted, but now that he’s married, a father, and on the east coast, we all figured it was about time they truck it up to Arcadia for some sugar cookies and lasagna.
And truck it up here they did! Because not only did they bring themselves, they brought their two Bernedoodles. I’m not going to gloss over that detail or pretend that I was okay with this. Because that would be lying and an incomplete retelling of events. The dogs were a big point of stress–and not just for me–but I won’t go at it at length. Suffice it to say, I’ve never liked dogs in the house, and two high-maintenance dogs that bark when a fly farts is, well, let’s just say it probably broke my perfect record of good blood pressure. And the cat didn’t take the ‘home invasion’ well. We had to work through some things . . .
That aside, Christmas was great, it really was. Having my 9-month-old niece, my wee acorn, around was a real joy even though she didn’t sleep all night. I’ve never had a Christmas with a baby, and I think it’s kinda fun! I’d do it again. Though, she’ll be ALMOST TWO next time, and I think that’ll be an entirely different experience. She’ll be talking and running around and getting into all the things she’s not supposed to . . . Can’t wait?
Alas, they packed up to head home the Monday after Christmas. I was at work, so I couldn’t see them off, but goodbyes-until-whenever-next-time-is aren’t my favorite, so it was okay.
Then I got a text: Hayden got into an accident. Laura and Oakley [awesome sis-in-law and wee acorn, respectively] are okay, but Hayden’s getting checked out at the hospital.
No one wants a text like that in the middle of a workday. Especially a long workday where you have to wait all day trying not to be wigged out only to get home and learn that your little brother isn’t just a little banged up but a LOT banged up. Like, broken bones, gashes, surgery, and hardware kind of banged up. Then it was tissue in his lungs making it difficult for him to get enough oxygen, to the point where he was getting winded just moving from his bed to his chair. Plus numbness in his good hand. Then it was low red cell count and a blood transfusion.?
I should mention that the accident happened less than an hour after they set out for Virginia, which was a huge blessing since they were still so close to home and could be here with us through the whole ordeal. Praise God!
So, I didn’t have to say goodbye just yet to wee acorn smiles when I got home from work (not sorry about that). Nor did I get to say farewell to the–The dogs. I didn’t get to say farewell to the dogs (that I was sorry about).
After multiple tests and a full week of good news-bad news (wherein he welcomed the New Year alone in the hospital, unless you want to count his nice enough but obnoxious roommate), he was finally able to come home.
Our Christmas tree, which we’d waited until the Sunday before Christmas to get so we could all go pick it out together, was stripped and tossed in the chicken yard less than two weeks after we put it up. The livingroom was emptied and rearranged to fit a mattress, becoming a makeshift bedroom for what amounted to be a month of baby smiles, interrupted sleep, feeding the cat on the stairs or in the bathroom so he actually could and would eat, trying desperately not to wake the dogs up when I left for work at quarter to six in the morning (because they bark to wake those in Hades), improv family dinners and movie nights, hours of playtime, Magnolia network in the middle of the afternoon *Take a deep breath* watching Oakley grow SO MUCH, maneuvering through a jungle of high chairs, wheelchairs, walkers, needy dogs, and people, and perpetually dirty floors (because whoever told you Bernedoodles don’t shed was lying. Babies are masters at finding and trying to eat fluffwads).
Every day seemed full with lots of little things that kept adding up, and we were all exhausted. Hayden’s recovery, while moving forward, was slow and frustrating. He got bored sitting around. Hayden + bored = ? (If only he liked to read. Alas.) Getting in and out of the house and vehicles for appointments and the occasional outing later on was an ordeal. Oakley had some fussy days and struggled with going down for naps. Her abrupt transition from breastfeeding to solid food went well, but that opened a whole new door of challenges to keep her fed and happy. She didn’t like her highchair at dinnertime half so much as Grampy’s lap. The dogs needed more care than we’re used to with ol’ Junie-B and the calf-sized puppy needed to go out all the time or he’d pee on the floor (or, you know, my foot).
And in the midst of all this, the women in the house caught a stomach bug. Mom had it a few days before me and Laura came down with it (bummer of bummers: on the night a friend brought over a delicious dinner for us). I haven’t thrown up in a lot of years, but that night I scraped and sopped up my bedroom floor before getting up close and personal with the toilet bowl. And poor Laura apparently went outside because I spent all night on the bathroom floor. First time ever calling in from work. Praise God it only lasted a day and that my wee acorn didn’t catch it. It was awful.
But I gotta say, my sister is a real life Wonderwoman. Beat up from the accident herself, she took such good care of Hayden and Oakley and is still rocking it. You go, girl. God bless you, ’cause I struggled enough as it was without even having major responsibilities!
It might cross you as strange, but I haven’t had this much not-alone time since before my brothers both lived at home. After the constant noise and interaction with people at work, I’d come home to a houseful, too, more often than not. To be honest, I could have shut myself up in my room, and I did a little bit here and there, but I had missed so much of my wee acorn’s first year that I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could while she was in my hands.
Which meant that my writing took an even bigger dive than it had already. I barely touched my documents, and it came to a point where I felt like a poser! Like I said I was a writer and working on a novel, but actually wasn’t, and I became so disconnected from my story and characters that it legit made me sad and borderline depressed. But if I had the energy to tackle the manuscript, I didn’t have the time, and if I had the time, I didn’t have the energy.
I’ve been learning a lot recently about ‘creating in the midst of chaos’, about working and speaking beauty into a dark and broken world where the enemy is doing everything to distract you from making something beautiful. It’s a wonderful sentiment in concept; I fully believe it’s true. But it’s very difficult to practice. So I sat on it and tread water day by day just to keep my head above the surface and breathe, knowing it was only for a season but wondering just how long that season was going to last.
Kinda like the Psalmist. “How long, Lord? How long?”
I waited for life to go back to normal, fearing the long haul of the trenches.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining (although I fear I am) or that it was all bad (because it wasn’t). So many good things came out of this, and so much of God’s glory and protection and provision was revealed in our need. Hayden might have a plate in his elbow and a rod in his leg and torn ligaments in his knee and debris lodged in his hand, but he’s alive and well and mending. He and Oakley are learning to walk together!? Laura was banged up and sore, but fine. Oakley came out unscathed. The accident happened close to home so they could stay with us and we could take care of them. I got to spend so much time with my favorite little person, watching her adrenaline-junkie self learn and grow like a weed in just a month. I got to hear her laugh and babble, watch her run around the house, share Cheerios, and see her smile at me when I walked in the door after work, no matter what kind of day I had. Our friends banded together and prayed for us (thank you all soooo much!), provided meals, even let us borrow a vehicle for a few weeks!
God was so good to us throughout all of it, a ‘sure and steady anchor’, as the song goes. And you, the Church, were a balm on a raw sore, truly the hands and feet of Christ. This whole ordeal had very little to do with me, but I am so very grateful for the prayers and cards and words of encouragement you shared with us while we went through that valley. There is a Light at the end of the tunnel, and no darkness can overcome It!
And then, in early February, Hayden was officially discharged from in-home care. He was wanted back in Virginia so his care could be transferred to the Naval Hospital and all that complicated Marine/Military stuff that I won’t even pretend to understand. So once again they packed up and headed south, about a month and a half after they first arrived. To be honest, we were a little anxious about how this second attempt would go! But praise God they made it back without a hitch. Mom went with them to help get things settled in, and that lasted about another week and a half before she came home.
Longest. Christmas vacation. Ever.
And the day they left? I got home from work and CLEANED THE FLOORS. Moved furniture. Swept. Vacuumed. Mopped–like, three times. It might sound silly, but getting the dog hair and dirt and mud and salt residue off the floor was such a boon to my soul.
It’s the little things.
And now the normalcy I had yearned for has come with that bittersweet turning of events. The house is quiet and peaceful, devoid of those things that rub me wrong but equally bereft of tiny feet rolling that ‘spaceship’ walker a hundred miles an hour around the corner. I’d come to treasure my wee acorn’s greetings, and the day we meet again can’t come soon enough. I’ve gotten back into my manuscript and am equally happy and embarrassed to report that I’m into chapter two on edits for the final book in the trilogy. I was supposed to be finished by now and maybe scoping out beta readers. But life. For everything there is a season, right?
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you so much for reading my ramblings! I tried not to get long winded, but I’m a novelist at heart. I have trouble with brevity. ? I pray that the next episode comes far, far in the future . . .