The Parts of Our Days

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We had a weekend full of house updating {finally painting our hallway white so that we can finish our floors once and for all}. It felt wonderful to finish up another small project, and even little Izzy contributed with his tiny sponge brush that he used to apply white paint to the lower three feet of the walls under a very supervised eye. We spent all of Saturday and a good chunk of Sunday on it. But what has left a bigger mark on me from last weekend is what parenthesized our painting project… the mornings before and the evenings after. I’ve found blessing and joy in those times before and after our hard work {which also paid off, but just with much more of a cost, i.e. sore back}.

I used to be a morning person. But I was a morning person the way I am a breakfast person. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, but I rarely eat it. Mornings were always my favorite. But I rarely enjoyed them. I think that just came with twenty years of working in an office setting and having a commute. It’s interesting how times of the day change for different stages of life.

I remember finally enjoying mornings as an adult—the way I would have liked to for the twenty years prior—when the company I worked for in 2009 was bought out by another company that shut ours down. It was a blow… yes. But with unemployment came the first time in adult life that I could fully savor mornings. I spent each of those days awaking and walking two blocks down to the local coffee shop to enjoy my daily dose of warm, creamy green tea as I people-watched or journaled or planned for the future… or chatted with another regular. I enjoyed that for about a year {except for stretches when temp work was available}. Before long, I would find myself pregnant with Izzy and laying off the caffeine, but still very much enjoying mornings. Though I was one who suffered from severe nausea, mornings were actually my best time of day during that pregnancy. It was the time of day when I was the least nauseous {which is why I never grasped the term morning sickness and pretty much always wanted to throw the closest inanimate object through a window when I saw the very inaccurate term that illy prepared me for pregnancy… with some people, like myself, it’s so not like that and not the slight, brief a.m. inconvenience that it has always had a reputation for being}. Those mornings, it didn’t take long for nausea to set in, but it was still the time of day when it was the least unbearable and farthest from the time of day when it was most severe. Even if I had woken up severely nauseous during that time, my first pregnancy was such a joyful and exciting time that I would still have loved mornings… just to wake up each day and think oh, my! I’m actually pregnant… finally! I’m actually going to be having a baby!

As I type, I am reminded how very different it was the second time around. Well, not in the beginning, of course… although, I did have a sort of sixth sense about my pregnancy, even from the very first day, that something was wrong. For sure, from June 29th, 2013 on in my pregnancy, I hated mornings. December 19th of that year is the exception, because on that morning, I could not wait to go meet my baby girl. But as for the other mornings, I dreaded them. Feared them, even. I had to force myself out of my own bed to care for the baby I already had when I did not want to get out of bed for anything. Each day of waking was another day awaking to what I hoped was just a terrible dream when opening my eyes from sleep, but never was merely that. Every day was a battle to let carrying on win over depression and sorrow. I hated to relive June 28th in my mind over and over all those mornings whenever that same mind was told to wake me. How different a pregnancy. How different the mornings. Now, having gone through something that brought me to a line of thinking that said just stay in bed, because it’s better there… well, I just don’t know how I feel about mornings anymore. I want to love them again.

I guess I’m still a morning person when it’s all said and done, despite perhaps losing my ability to savor them for a time. I do love the crispness or dewiness and the quietness of mornings. Even in the middle of summer when the air is heavy and thick with humidity, I still love how a morning feels… especially in solitude.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying getting up just a bit before Izzy. We got into a terrible rut, he and I—my rut, much worse than his. Throughout this past year, there have been, on average, one or two sleepless {or very, very late} nights per week for me. Sometimes, so late, I found myself going to sleep when the sun and birds were rising. So the result, it stands to reason, was very little sleep on those days. One could ask me why such a pattern started, but I wouldn’t have an answer. A lack of explanation in that area is no different from any other areas I lack explanation in since losing a baby {or finding out I would lose one}… innumerable things. To some, two nights a week with absolutely no sleep might seem odd and difficult to comprehend. To me, it fits right in with the world I’ve been in.

Having a guest stay with us a short while ago made me realize just how much it has affected my life, though. So, I’ve been more intentional about getting to bed somewhere between normal and ridiculous. And with that attempt, I’ve found some free time to myself in the mornings before one becomes two.

So I’ve stepped into a new place of respect for times of day. And I found myself putting it into practice over this last weekend, protecting the sacred moments of summer mornings… and the evenings, too. They are, no doubt, unique compared to their week-day counterparts. On the weekends, Mr. B is here. There is a sense of lingering in the air. Linger is such a great word… or can be, when applied to something like morning coffee time. The definition of linger is “stay in a place longer than necessary, typically because of a reluctance to leave.” That’s nice, isn’t it?

But then I think of lingering in grief. I hope I never do. If you sat with me in my counseling sessions, you’d realize my tendency is actually to do the opposite. I want to rush through it. I’m not about denial. I never want to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. But if I could rush through grief, I would. And some days, I have. The ironic thing is—and my counselor helped me see this last week—if I do rush it, I just might make the grief last longer than it needs to. I tend not to give myself grace for the areas that have been affected by my loss… areas where I feel like I’m miserably failing. So I try to be the person I expect myself to be, wearing glasses that project a post-grief me onto the me that’s in the here and now. And every time I do, I get immobilized by the grief I am trying to rush through.

Yes. It’s like that. Grief is hard enough to go through, without the conundrums that come with it.

But I digress… like I often do.

I’ve tried to be very intentional these last few days to enjoy specific times of my day… especially these summer mornings and evenings. For the mornings, that looks like coffee on the deck with views of the large white pine at the edge of our property and cool breezes that move down the hill our house sits on. It’s so peaceful that I’ve even been taking in second servings {something I never do} just to enjoy it more. I’m usually a one-cup-a-day girl.

In the evenings, we’ve been trying more than ever to be creative with food. Usually that involves the grill, some fish and all the delicious veggies summer has to offer. But Friday night, it was homemade pizza that Izzy gleefully helped prepare. {I am always amazed at how much healthier—if you want it to be and aren’t a pepperoni lover like we are—and less expensive good pizza can be when you make it yourself instead of buying prepared and all decked out.} I don’t know why, but I’ve found a recent love or enthusiasm in food and meals and preparation. I hope it’s something that sticks, because I sort of like the way such a budding interest feels. It’s still only a little spark inside, but strong enough that I even feel like taking cooking classes… like getting that into it. But something like that would best be taken up in the somewhat distant future, I think {and I’m sure my counselor would agree}.

Anyway, whenever convenient, we like to eat dinner out on the deck, and have been… more often these past couple of weeks with the cooler and bug-free weather we’ve been enjoying as of late. Like the mornings, there’s just so much peace to be found when we eat out there. We’re usually accompanied by a cardinal who flutters about and a mourning dove who likes to sit on the power line right at the edge of our property and coo… or is it, mourn? I could never even begin to describe what it means to me that those two birds are with us in those moments, but I can say, I find it to be part of what makes those moments feel sacred. As for the peace and quiet, it’s surely helped by the fact that neighbors and their three dogs who lived on the street behind our house recently moved away.

As I wrote in my last post, I am intent on writing out the details of these days… something I wish with all my heart that I had done during my pregnancy with Anysia, but didn’t feel capable to do. I told my counselor the other night how, recently, the sound of my son singing a song from the Winnie the Pooh movie {and thus, my thinking of another song from the Curious George movie that he watched countless times last Fall while I was pregnant} instantly flooded my mind with memories of that time in our lives. But as quickly as those feelings and memories flooded in, they flooded out. It was strange, too… I would have thought that the flood would bring pain. But it filled me with the most peaceful sense of nostalgia. I actually can’t fully explain what it was like. But as it happened, I was grieved to know I had not documented well that time of our lives… and as a result, can’t really experience the memories of that time intentionally. I hardly wrote a word during that season of life {although, thankfully, I at least have e-mails that sort of document of those days} and I scarcely took any pictures {especially before I was able to replace my broken camera in November}.

I’ve had a sense of urgency to rush through grief because I feel like I am missing out on “normal” life and because, in it, I’ve felt disconnected to life period. In saying that to my counselor, she replied by urging me to do it all the more now… write down all that I can and continue taking my pictures to connect once again and preserve what little I feel I’m able to grasp or recognize of life… so I can look back with proof that I lived it as best as I possibly could… or the only way I knew how.

Living again, whether secluded or out in the land of the living, must come in baby steps, I’ve learned. Lately, that has looked like a concert in the park as a family with dear friends. Saturday night it was just me heading out to a girlfriend’s house to take advantage of her free time {with her husband away on business and her two sweet boys in bed for the night}, enjoying some Asian appetizers and plum wine and just connecting with another human that was not our self, husband or son{s} for once. Getting to connect as a family with another and have some just-the-girls time in the same week did my heart good! Other than the peaceful nights at home with my boys, those are the two loveliest evenings I’ve had in a while, and I’m so grateful for them.

Everything… even losses… just need{s} time. There is no loss I’ve ever suffered that did not change or become less painful with time. Right now, I have to walk along with near-sighted glasses and see time in individual moments… mornings and evenings… or even the in-betweens. Far-sighted glasses don’t do me much good right now.

So for now, I’m trying just to focus on the present, even if it is {at times} quite dark, and put something to “pen and paper” in this space to remember it by. A tree. Pizza toppings. Words that will become memories. These will all work well, I believe. I know, because if A Very Important Thing to Do from the Pooh movie can do it, so can these things… and not just by hopeful chance, but whenever I want them to… by coming back here to read this journal of days.

I hope I’ll look back to see a page being turned… and the transformation, however slow, from the way it was {or has been} to the way it can be. I hope to find mornings and evenings and the moments they carry full of change… but more than that, full of grace. And I strive to be grateful for each one of them, even now… whether full of grace and change, or just there to bridge us over to the ones that are.

“And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening…”
~1 Chronicles 23:30

“…for I have learned in whatever situation, I am to be content.”
~Philippians 4:11