The children and I were afforded the opportunity to escape to Cape Lookout National Seashore for a long weekend. We loaded up the pickup truck with ice chests full of farm food, blankets and pillows and stacks and stacks of books. The drive was long. Very long. We listened to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle on the way down and a difficult day turned out to be a rather pleasant day as we laughed together over the fabulous cures Mrs. Piggle Wiggle wrought on many a challenging child.
The day we prepared to leave I also baked in our new bakery for the first time.
It worked beautifully.
I still have to work out some kinks. The oven is fabulous. It bakes bread and pizza crusts in a fraction of the time. The stainless steel table makes an excellent work space for rolling out and shaping. The mixer mixes amazingly.
But I noticed that I am still not 100%. Trying to work was grueling. It felt hard. Like hiking 18 miles up and down steep and rocky terrain. By the time my girlfriend came to pick up her pizza crusts I was at my wits end. The kids found a ewe with a new little lamb, still damp with birth. I went out to gather the little girl up and place her and the momma in a safe place in the barn and found a safe place for me, out in the pasture to vent to my dear friend and her unsuspecting guest. Both ladies also lost their husbands. They let me rant and rail and cuss and cry for a little bit, and I knew they understood. It made me mad to be so weak and tired. To have to be a single parent.
The trip to the beach was a rather sudden opportunity. We needed some time to regroup as a family in a quiet place. Portsmouth Island was just the ticket. A ferry took us out three miles to a place with no stores, no internet, no phones or tvs. No refrigerators or sidewalks. Just rustic cabins with bunk beds and a little propane stove. Windows looking out to the sound on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The ferry guys lent the kids some clam rakes and showed them where to dig. They brought a bountiful harvest of delicious clams which made their way into a chowder. Yum.
I thought that listening to waves and feeling sand would heal me. That all the grief and sadness would wash away into the ocean.
Well, we had some amazing family time. I read out loud to the kids many chapters of The Last Battle, by CS Lewis. The kids played many games of UNO. They built sand castles and played freeze tag and hide and seek and we ate many delicious meals together.
I read some poetry by Pablo Neruda. A John Steinbeck novel. A biography about Abigail Adams. A collection of poetry by Wendell Berry. An amazing memoir by Ann Hood called Comfort. The Bible. The Book of Common Prayer.
At some point I realized I was doing everything I could to distract myself from thinking about Philip. Any thought of him was so painful, I just tried to do anything I could to avoid it.
So I looked at the ocean waves, that changed color from morning to evening. The morning would be so glassy, it was like a shiny chrome. The dolphins would swim out past the breakers and give us delight. The terns would skitter and scatter across the wet sand, hunting their breakfast. The bright midday sand would warm up like a heating pad, and I would sink in my toes, huddled in Rachel's mom's shawl, shivering. At times the beach would be as hard as concrete and then at others, our feet would bounce in the wet sand. In the evening, the ocean would turn a deep deep blue, the waves would roll in, and the sun would slide down, faster and faster, pink and orange into the sound. Sometimes the wind would beat us, blowing the sand against our skin like a sand blaster, and we would laugh to see it swept along, as if a giant street sweeper were at work.
No major healing took place.
I still miss Philip and am becoming aware that I have no earthly idea just how much I miss him. I feel a bit like a coward to ignore the pain for a little while.
But it was important to re knit our family ties this weekend, and helpful to work on our new family dynamic. The family of six instead of seven. Someone asked me if I had fun. Before I could stop myself, I told her, no, not really. I wished I could have simply said, yes, it was a great trip. Because it was. But it wasn't fun. Even though I did delight in watching the children delight in the waves and the sand.
Not fun, but good. Very rich. Every single bit of it. As the peepers serenade me this evening, I can almost hear the crashing waves and feel the hot sand on my toes. Maybe there was more healing that took place than I am aware. Other people's words were like a balm to my soul.
Work was waiting on me. Not very patiently, but definitely waiting. Coco was happy to see me, even when I gave her a severe talking to. She wouldn't let any one else milk her, so Dulce and Carmelita had to do the job. Another lamb was born on Sunday morning to Dahnabad. A little ram lamb to add to Sissy's little female born on Friday. When I went to check on the new lambs and their mothers, I spotted the broody hen sitting on a nest in an adjacent stall. What did I spy when I picked up the fluffy gal? Seven little day old baby chicks! She was hiding them under her fluffy wings. What a wondrous thing, baby chicks hatched out by their mama.
I am happy for the reminder. The reminder of Psalm 91:4. "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." God is to our family like that hen with her chicks. We are tucked under a wing and are being sheltered and cared for, even in our weak times. Especially in our weak times.
Can you believe we had friends who would come to the farm EVERY day to take care of our animals? Deal with cantankerous cows? Belligerent turkeys? (George almost got roasted by Jason and Dylan after a flogging, but somehow managed to survive!) They even swept the floors and made my bed and threw the last wet clothes in the washer into the dryer for me so we could get on the road. I am so very grateful. And glad to be home.