Life Plans, Raw From The Road, March 7, 2018
Gather up your telegrams
Your faded pictures, best laid plans
Books and postcards, 45’s
Every sunset in the sky
Carry with you maps and string, flashlights
Friends who make you sing
And stars to help you find your place
Music, hope and amazing grace
Maybe what we leave
Is nothing but a tangled little mystery
Maybe what we take
Is nothing that has ever had a name
Mary Chapin Carpenter
I just came back from the East Coast where I spent a month with my ailing father who has Parkinson’s, my mother who is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s and my newly (re)found amazing friends from high school, who were here visiting me less than a week on the other side of the country before I jumped on a plane to New York. In fact, they were here when I received the first phone call that my father was going into the hospital. They gave my husband and I a place to stay, a car to drive and the love and support we needed to keep going.
My father asked me to come to NY because he thought he was facing his final days. However, though his life has been changed drastically, they were not his last days and he is now in a rehab and will be transitioning to a long-term care facility.
I had the privilege of helping in any way I could: moral support, researching insurance and care options and just being there to keep him company.
I also got to spend quality time with my younger brother and sister-in-law and my niece and nephew.
We originally had planned to be in New York in February for a short visit and a trip to see our nephew in Toronto, which we did get to do for a couple of days and that was such a wonderful time of connection and diversion.
I vacillated between asking myself is this my purpose and knowing that it was.
Some days I felt like I was orbiting, detached from the life I knew at home and even longing for that sense of definitive direction I had before I left. That sense of security about a plan.
My plan to write four books this year. Almost finished up the first one before I left, I had a schedule for each step in place.
I smile as I think about the word plan and schedule and the sometimes false sense of security about the concept of both.
I believe I learned something about my life in regards to plans and schedules.
Perhaps, it is not in the accomplishment of things that we plan and schedule that are the only successes but also the adaptability we incorporate into our lives when those plans are interrupted or change?
I struggled with feeling selfish about my desires to get “back“ to my life. And then I would remind myself that it was here that my life was… right now and the importance of being there for my father was far greater than anything else.
I knew that writing a book was not my purpose at that moment.
Showing up for my father, my family, was my purpose.
Showing up for the man who supported me, on so many levels, throughout my life and made it possible for me to follow my dreams. Not to repay, but to thank and appreciate and to show my gratitude and love.
My high school friends who I just reconnected with in September created a river of love for me to float on through the pain and fear of losing my father and seeing him in pain.
My family of friends from the West Coast texted and emailed staying in touch sending me love and prayers, reminding me to take care of myself in the midst of everything.
I returned home this past Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning I woke up early, meditated and began to write the list of all the things I needed to do to get ‘back’ into my life, my work.
I decided I would paint first and get back in the studio. I wanted to see what would come out and thought it would be the perfect way to acclimate.
That was my plan. Once again, I had a schedule.
I bent down and picked up a motorcycle tire to add to a painting I had started before I left. I applied the paint to the tire and then as I began to put it down on the canvas I felt an excruciating jolt through my lower back. I couldn’t hold the tire. In that moment I knew I had thrown my back out.
Regardless, I was going to get some painting in and managed to do a little bit more before I surrendered to the pain.
The inability to walk made it difficult for me to hold onto any denial and in truth, I wasn’t surprised that this had happened.
The combination of working so hard to keep things together with the intention of “diving” back into my work was the perfect set up for the universe’s plea for me to stop… ease into things… process…go slow…
So here I am dictating this from the couch instead of sitting at my computer.
I know this segment of my journey isn’t over.
I’ve learned that wherever I am, that’s where my life is.
And the answers to how I can contribute are right there with me.
With so much love and gratitude for life and all my loved ones, East and West,
(Learning how to be brave and strong, like my dad, and how to be me.)
PS: More about the month in NY soon.