My fingers managed quite nicely being away from the computer, and now I have a mountain of posts ready to explode like a volcano.
Where to begin?
We just got back from a two week trip to Texas. Our dear friend baby sat the farm, fed the chickens, watered the goats, counted the sheep and the cows and stacked lots of firewood. The kids and I loaded up the truck and headed West.
We discovered that Ella Enchanted makes for great audio book listening. The unabridged Sense and Sensibility is not so great for one small truck and an audience of six of various ages. We skipped the eat local challenge this year, with the simple goal of making it there and back again in one piece.
Mom and Dad fed us all our favorite foods (except for the fish fry, have to do that next time.) We hiked around Enchanted Rock. We visited briefly with both my sisters and their kids. We went to Big Bend National Park and sat in the hot springs under the full moon. We camped. We rafted. The kids swam and skipped rocks. We hiked. We cooked lots of food and read stories and didn't think about work or school. Well, we did work on lots of homework and piano practice, but it was in a lovely setting. We soaked up sun and high 80 degree temperatures.
It was all wonderful, but I am learning that the human psyche has the capacity to feel many emotions all at the same time, and it was shocking how much pain was threaded through all the good.
Holiday grief hurts.
We missed Philip in the Big Bend. We missed him at the Thanksgiving table. We missed knowing he was not back at the farm and would be gone this Christmas and the next and the next.
Our trip was amazing. Full of friends and laughter and joy. Family and love and hugs and kisses. And the continuation of a pain that for some odd reason hasn't lessened. Maybe it is even more intense now than it was some time ago.
First thing we did when getting back (besides getting that woodstove cranked up) was go to grief support group.
Yesterday morning the farm was 18 degrees. The fire had only coals and we were cold. What a shock to the system. The physical sensation brought about a visceral response in me, as I remembered last year's hard winter and all that went with it. Gripped with cold and pain, I sobbed and sat in front of the fire with tea, feeling nearly paralyzed.
Thankfully the temperatures are warmer and the monstrous pile of wood hasn't even been dented by the last couple of days of fire. The living room is so warm you can barely stand it. The house is cozy. We are working on trying to navigate these uncharted waters of holiday grief, the six of us. If anyone would have told me nine months ago that it would still hurt so badly, I wouldn't have believed them. Actually, I believe several people did tell me and I didn't have a clue.
I had a few minutes before supper this evening and went to the piano. I can't play, but I can pick out a tune in the hymnal and so found the advent section. My favorites. I sang and wept, thankful to remember that advent is not about happy elves and shopping and jingle bells.
I can't do jingle bells right now.
Don't want Christmas lights.
The kids and I have decided we don't want a tree until right before Christmas.
Advent is about pain. And sorrow. And suffering.
Angst and longing for help to come.
Faith that help is on its way. Hope that our mourning will eventually turn into joy. Belief that dawn is upon us.
And as I hurt, and the wind howls, and I wonder how I am going to manage the farm and the bakery and the needs of the kids, I sing with thousands of others who cry out to their creator in HOPE.
So there you have it, poor loyal blog readers. I have lots of happy stories to share and amazing pictures of the wonders we enjoyed on our trip. But today the wind blows, I hurt, and I have a feeling there might be a few other folks out there who can relate. Hope is simmering away, just like the turkey broth bubbling on my stove top, made from the bones of the turkey the Thomas's gave us. I didn't have the energy to put that fresh turkey in the freezer, all 30+lbs of it, so I shoved the whole thing in the oven with some salt and roasted it, and we ate it with our fingers for supper, putting the leftovers in the freezer and fridge. Joy and goodness are definitely a part of our big pot of soup. All mixed up with the salt of our tears, the sting of onions and garlic. Perfect for wet, windy Advent.
We wait hopefully. And figure we will make it through this first Christmas just the same way we did Thanksgiving. One step at a time.
PS I really did miss blogging, but it was GREAT to be disconnected from the web for awhile. Great to be forced to write in my journal all the deep stuff that doesn't make it on the blog. Now I am happy to be back.