41/42

Hey y’all, it’s that time of year again!  It’s my birthday!!!

Top 10 facts about the number 42 | Express.co.uk

This wasn’t exactly a banner year, and I don’t really feel like I have that much to say about it.  I’ll give it what I’ve got, though.

While 41 is not a monumental number, both of my girls hit big milestones during my odd year.  Emma turned 13, so we officially have a teenager.  Sofia turned 10, so we no longer have anyone in single digits.  I can tell you that I was not ready for either girl to turn those ages, but they’ve been great so far.  They are both such amazing little people, who really are not that little anymore.

Last week I hit the midway point in coursework for my doctoral degree.  Seven courses down, seven to go.  Then an internship, a huge exam, a dissertation, and a hop, skip, and a jump to my doctoral degree.  With each course, I seem to hit a point where I tell Michael that I cannot do this, but I’ve finished every course so far, so I guess I can.

Work continued on as usual, which means constant changes.  We saw a new tower emerge on the existing hospital building and quickly begin filling with patients , which is exciting and daunting at the same time.  We experienced the scary unknown of coronavirus, which ground all hospital visitations to a halt.  But the year was fun, as well.  I got to star in my own small day-in-the-life-of video for the hospital, which earned me lots of recognition and free donuts from my favorite bakery.  

I published not one but two books of poetry during 41.  I only meant to do the first one, Conversations with the Moon.  I had been working on that one for several months, and I knew where it was going.  39 Poems happened so fast that it seemed to come out of no where.  They are two very different books, but I am pleased with both of them.

We travelled just a little this year.  We made a few trips to Crawfordsville to see family, of course.  One of those was a milestone trip in itself, as it was for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  That was a great week with family, celebrating my parents’ constant commitment to each other and their marriage, even when things are hard.  The only other real traveling we did was to the Outer Banks for a week in July.  That was a fantastic, leisurely week on the beach.  My brother went with us, which made the trip that much better.

In the middle of 41, coronavirus hit and the world seemed to stop overnight.  We haven’t gotten coronavirus in my family, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected by it.  Everyone has been.  We had to cancel a vacation in April because it wasn’t safe to travel.  The girls haven’t been in a classroom since before spring break.  Michael works from home indefinitely.  We rarely leave the house, just to pick up groceries and fetch carryout food.  We wear masks everywhere we go.

In the forced togetherness, though, we have grown.  Rather than being sick of one another, the four of us have remained close.  We have learned a strange mix of independence and yet depending on one another.  We have played endless games and taken up new hobbies.

It has been an odd year, largely because of coronavirus.  Unfortunately there is no end in sight for it, at least at this point.  Somedays it feels like coronavirus will go on forever, and that our stringent social distancing will as well.

41 doesn’t go on forever, though.  42 is here, shrouded in a veil of unknowing.  I have things I hope we will do, like eventually send our girls back to school.  We hope to travel to Greece next summer if it is safe to do so.  But like so much of our current life, we are in a wait-and-see holding pattern for now.

So to 41, thanks for being a very different year.  I won’t soon forget you.

And to 42, let’s do this.

Psalm 23

I realized something over the weekend that I’m guessing some of you already knew: Psalm 23 can be read as a psalm of the dying.

I had always read it as a psalm of hope: hope for protection, hope for strength, hope for life.

Over the weekend, a family asked me to read it at the bedside of a dying patient.  I could tell that the spouse wanted to be the one to read it, but was too overcome with emotion.  So I did.

The LORD is my shepherd, I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams….

In that moment, the patient all they needed.  Family was gathered together.  Memories and sweet tears were shared, and prayers for an easy passage offered up.  The patient was resting, perhaps not in green meadows of beside peaceful streams, but everything was being done to keep them comfortable.

…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and staff protect and comfort me….

Death is, I presume, the darkest valley.  At least for a moment.  For those of us who are living, death seems like the great unknown.  We don’t know what happens in that moment.  How soon is it before we are greeted by The Father?  But David tells us not to be afraid.  That is always part of my prayers for the dying: that they would be free from not only pain and suffering but also from fear and anxiety.

…You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings….

One of the purposes of anointing is to sanctify or make pure from sin.  I don’t know if we get an actual anointing when we enter heaven, but I imagine going to heaven is, in itself, an act of sanctification.  To live sinless in the presence of the Lord forever.  What could be more holy?  How could we feel more blessed than that?

…and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

That is where we hope our loved ones go when they die: to live in the house of the Lord forever.  That was certainly what this family believed, and it gave them hope.

As I read this aloud for the family and their dying loved one, I cried.  I cried for them, but I also cried with them.  Being invited in to a scene like that is special.  It feels almost holy, in a way.

I’ll look at Psalm 23 differently now.  Not in a negative light because I now associate it with death.  I’ll look at it with hope like I did before.  But now I’ll look at it with an eternal hope of life everlasting.

+++++

T

Leaving the Outer Banks

Saturday was hard, pretty much all around.

I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could go out and watch the sunrise. For some reason, I was awake before 4:00 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I did make it out to watch what I could if the sunrise. It was pretty cloudy, but still beautiful. Adam joined me for a little while.

Adam left around 7:00. It was hard to watch him go. We really like vacationing with him. He fits in so well with our family.

Michael and I had some coffee and started packing up. We kept at it until the girls got up at 8:00. We all had breakfast together and then went down to the beach one last time.

We stayed down at the beach for a little over an hour. Emma made a sandcastle. Sofia jumped in the waves. We soaked up the early morning sun one last time. We enjoyed being together in one of our favorite places.

Back at the house, we showered and then hit the packing hard. Michael went out to get sandwiches for us all. Around 11:00 we all got emergency alerts on our phones announcing that Dare County (where we were) was enforcing a mandatory evacuation of all visitors by noon. That was when we were planning to leave anyway, so it didn’t change our plans.

Leaving was hard. Two of us cried, and I think two more teared up. No one wanted to go. But now we had to. The rental agency even called us to make sure we knew.

Driving was hard. It felt like we were in nonstop traffic from the time we left our rental house until we stopped for the night outside of Washington, DC. We wanted to make it into Maryland before stopping, but traffic was that bad.

Honestly, Sunday wasn’t any easier. We woke up and were on the road nice and early, but everyone was sullen and listless. There was no playful joking around. The girls sat quietly in the back and kept to themselves, and really Michael and I did the same. We didn’t even play auto bingo.

We love our home. I just blogged about that a couple of weeks ago, about how great things are in Fort Wayne. We miss our dogs, and the girls miss their hamsters.

But no one is ready to return to life as we know it. Not after a wonderful, relaxing week together on the beach. And for me, not when one of our party of five doesn’t call the same place home that we do.

Still, we’ll suck it up. Michael will return to work on Monday. I’ll go back to the hospital on Friday night, as always. The girls will have one more week of summer vacation. Life will carry on, and it will be good. It’s just never the same after vacation.

Outer Banks Vacation, Friday

Friday found us mostly on the beach. We went out right after breakfast and stayed until lunchtime, then went out again for about an hour in the afternoon.

DSCF6520DSCF6521DSCF6522DSCF6530After the beach, Sofia played a few rounds of Dutch Blitz with Michael and me.  Then Michael, Adam, and I played a long game of Trivial Pursuit.  Michael won.

A shaved-ice truck drove through the neighborhood blasting loud music, and the girls and I attempted to chase him down.  He never came down our street, though, for some reason.  Two girls were disappointed.

Dinner was takeout from Top Dog, followed by ice cream from a local place.

We went back out to the beach for some evening pictures and one last swim for Adam.

We finished out the night watching Harry Potter together.