20 April 2011

No loose ends

After all the things I’ve been through, one of the lessons I have learned is that one should not live with loose ends: don’t put important things off until tomorrow, or next week, or next year … don’t assume you’ll always have time to make it right later, that ‘someday’ you can do what you dream.

Someday may not come.

This isn’t meant to be a morbid thought, but an empowering one: after all, if we patch up our differences quickly instead of letting them fester and grow, then we are happier. Who wants to live with old, fermented anger, anyway? It’s no fun. Makes you miserable. Yes, it’s hard to be the one to put down your weapons first, to be the guy who takes the first step towards reconciliation, but it’s not impossible. And being at peace with the world around you is a much more pleasant way to live.

If you have a dream, if there’s something you long to do, why wait to pursue it? Yes, sometimes you have to choose which things you’ll do right now and which things you may do later … but if you can do this thing you long to do right now, then why wait?

What’s got me thinking about all of this now? This morning, in downtown Edmonton, a young woman died after being struck by a bus. She was on her way to work, just another routine morning … and she won’t be coming home again.

I knew her husband. We were close friends, years ago, but we’ve been separated by time and circumstance and I had not met his beautiful wife, though I could see that she made him very happy. Today, she is suddenly gone, and my heart aches for him. He now faces the long road of grief, a difficult road that offers no bypasses and no shortcuts. I have walked that road so many times, and I would spare him the journey if I could … but I can’t. All I can do is offer to walk any part of it with him, if he needs me to, and send him my love.

None of us are here forever. Every moment of life is precious. Honour the One who gave you the gift of your life by celebrating, loving, and living well every moment you are blessed with.

18 April 2011

This healing thing takes a long time

If you read the post titled Listen from awhile back, you will have gathered that I am off work until the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has eased and I can get back into regular life.

Yes, I am still off work. The current “projected date of recovery” is some time in September, but really, that’s just a guess. PTSD is one of those things that takes as long as it takes, especially when the triggering incidents unfolded over a long period of time, as mine did, and it’s very difficult to predict what the path of recovery will look like.

For me, apparently, this part of the path of recovery looks like the life of an adrenalin addict with an unlimited supply of juice. I run for days on high throttle, unable to rest or relax, but also unable to sustain any kind of focused concentration for long. I go from one project to another, knitting a bit on this, then a bit on that, spinning some, carding some, restoring a wheel, surfing the web, reading a book, figuring out a lace pattern, starting another project, pulling it back and starting something else with the same yarn … on and on I go. After a few days of this, I feel utterly exhausted, but, poisoned by my own adrenalin, I still can’t rest. Eventually, I crash and sleep for ten hours at a stretch for a day or two … and then it all starts again.

It is getting a little less wild: the adrenalin high isn’t quite as rough as it used to be, there’s way less chest pain and I suspect my blood pressure is leveling out … and the exhausted crashes don’t last as long.  I’m also able to do a bit more on any given day than I was at the start – early on, just getting out of the house to see the doctor was enough to knock me out for the rest of the day, despite the adrenalin overdose. This weekend, I survived a family trip to the waterpark without any chest pain or subjective anxiety. Today, though, the bill has come in -  my body feels like it’s been through some kind of wringer, the chest pain and throat tightness are back, and I’m rattled and unsettled. It’s better than it used to be, though. Eventually, my body will reset to a more even keel and riding out the highs and lows is how I can teach my body that all I really need on a day to day basis is a really, really low dose of the juice. Just enough to stay awake and concentrate would be fine, thanks.

Despite that knowledge, it’s easy to feel like nothing productive is happening. Mostly I feel like I ought to be better by now – I mean, come on, I’ve got stuff to do, places to go, people to see! I said that to my counselor during my last appointment and she laughed at me … then apologized for finding it so funny. “But you are doing a lot of stuff!” she said. “Look at what you have written, look at all the work you are doing processing this. An awful lot happened to you, and now you have to work through all of it and let it reform into a new shape in your mind. It takes time to sort it all out, to take down the old pathways and build new ones.”

So, yes, it takes however long it takes. If a friend of mine were living through what I’m living right now, I’d say “Of course you need the time! The story you are reliving now unfolded over the course of ten years, then you tried to get by without really looking at it for another six. Get things sorted out and reorganized so that it stops making you ill. Take the time now, or you’ll find yourself in ER in another year or two, probably with something worse than psychosomatic pain.”

So I write, and knit, and weave, and putter, and lie awake at night, and do yoga, and follow the whims of my overactive mind, knowing that the only way out is through.

I discovered after writing Listen (and more importantly, after hitting the Publish Now button to release the story to the wider world) that telling the story sets me free from the weight of my history. When the words are out there, then they are not stuck in here. They are no longer my burden to carry but are transformed into my contribution to the unknown and unnamed strangers out there who will find strength or inspiration or the small shred of hope it takes to carry them through their darkness into the inevitable light.

There are more words coming. Writing them is part of my journey – and though I don’t know how, or where, or when, I know that those same words will be part of someone else’s journey too. It’s my job to put them where they can be found.

If I’m not back in a month, send ink. :)

06 April 2011

New bottle baby

We have a new lamb!

Natalie delivered twins, though one was stillborn. Poor Nat … she is old, and I suspect she has OPP (a progressive lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in humans, which is transmitted through the milk to offspring, and interferes with lactation as well). There’s no way Natalie can feed a lamb (I really shouldn’t have let her get bred this year, but my fences aren’t up to keeping everyone separated) so … we have a lovely little bottle baby.

She is adorable. She’s quite tiny – I suspect they were a little early. Here she is, warming up on the heating pad, with the kitten trying to play with her:

She was born on April first, so we call her Folly.

Right now she spends most of her day in a big cardboard box in the living room, where we can hear her when she bellows for milk (she’s not at all shy about this), though on warm, sunny days she spends time outside in a big pen on the deck. Today when I went out to burn trash in the big burn barrel, she came and wandered around the yard while I did my chores.

She looks just like her mama, right down to the one brown patch on her leg. I’m glad she’s here, and she’ll stay here … Nat will have to go to the butcher (a quick death at his hands is far preferable to the slow painful death the OPP will bring her).

Bottle babies always remember that The People brought them food – Cherub, The Boy’s bottle lamb, is still the first to run up to you when you go outside. Here’s hoping that little Folly continues to grow well and grows up to be just as wonderful as her mama!