I just let the dogs out in the noonday sun. They sprinted to the edge of the meadow together, a strip of lawn that now holds numerous bones and toys, patches of pee stained burnt grass and a huge hole, so big now that even these two have given digging a rest. Nora found her spot to stretch out and take in a full measure of heat. Yogi stood quietly just to one side of her and then with no warning at all, literally threw his toddler body fully on top of her to begin another round of play. Big laugh out load. What fun it is to watch these two. It is gratifying to see them so bonded. I do wonder if Nora ever gets exhausted from it all, even in her own insatiable need to expend energy.
It’s been five days since I arrived home to Massachusetts. Five days to transition from Peruvian winter to Massachusetts summer. Five days of wondering when I would be able to engage with the work that is pressing, deadline looming, to settle back into the rhythm I remember before I left for Peru. I have had to let go of thinking this would all come back right away, or that life would even be the same. Being back in the tangled happy energy of Nora and Yogi on the one hand let me ignore the exhaustion for a few days. But on the other hand, being human mom to these two can just as exhausting as having two young children all over again. I can’t ignore it any longer. Yesterday’s morning nap, just hours after arising was a big clue. I simply had to stop, all the while wondering why I couldn’t accept just being still to do nothing.
Wonder is the word that keeps coming. Wondering how the meadow could have become such a beautiful summer field of wildflowers in such a short time.
Wonder at seeing Yogi, doubled during the weeks I was away, now in the arms of Sam,
son of my heart, born just two months before Molly, and who came to JFK to get me and drive me all the way home. Wonder at the sweetness of Yogi and Nora’s developing relationship.
My garden, just planted and barely sprouted in early June before I left, has more than doubled in growth and is now miraculously filled with food. The seeds in the ground have become fully formed radishes and beds of spicy arugula. The seedlings began inside in April are now full heads of dark green bok choy leaves on full tender stalks. One little collard green plant gives me a huge beautiful leaf to dine on each day. The small yellow squash plants found at my local market have exploded into giants with blossoms that promise abundant first picks there soon as well.
Broccoli heads are forming and bean plants are sending out their multiple shoots, looking for places to climb. My beloved parsley is burgeoning and ready for consumption as well. It is a cornucopia. I can feed myself daily fresh from just this small garden, and wonder why I still dream of bigger and more.
I have fallen into wondering out loud about the health and happiness of my children, wondering about my role in this process in the space between us, they in their adult lives there, me in my beyond mid-life here. I visited Ben at his school yesterday to see him perform in the newly formed ‘house band’ and wondered yet again about the future of this enthusiastically energetic young man who plays his heart out, hands beating the drum he sits confidently with, as connected and as much a part of community as I could ever wish, even as a witness to his ability to take responsibility for his own happiness.
He gave me a tour of the on campus apartment he recently moved into with his new roommate Mark, proudly showing me the living room cabinet, neatly filled with his collection of DVD’s to share, the refrigerator filled with his breakfast things, which he now prepares and eats here for himself each morning. Even with so much wonderful progress, it seems wondering about his well-being will never go away. It’s like his birth during one of the biggest heat waves NYC had seen in years. I went into overdrive upon hearing the news of his diagnosis and never really felt the heat of summer for years after. It took fifteen years to reckon with the exhaustion that developed in the process of ensuring he had every chance at well-being. Fifteen years to see how much support there really was around us all. Fifteen years to claim the space I too needed to heal and accept that it was okay to claim this space.
Now, I wonder about Molly and her clear choice to remain in Peru, ‘I’m not done here Mom’ she tells me and I feel the truth of this, always proud of her ability and resolve to take responsibility for her own knowing and trust. She struggles being her empathic self there too, sharing tears or fear openly is simply not the Peruvian way. She is constantly being told there that she is too sensitive. From the moment I entered the hospital there, I was encouraged to keep my emotion in check, to embody calm and confidence for the sake of Molly’s healing. Molly was encouraged to see and feel the positive in her situation at all times. It was consistent. I witnessed this pervading sense of acceptance and moving beyond fear in a positive attitude from everyone I met, doctors, nurses, boyfriend and family, co-workers, even other patients. Molly eventually even modeled this acceptance for me. She gave me the best possible platform for being an effective mom.
By the time I left her there in Cusco, it had started to feel a bit like home to me too. I get it. But I didn’t make space for letting go to the shock and worry that had fueled my flight there. Whatever fear I had felt settled with me as I settled with her into her life there. Only now, back in this place I now call home, only now after five days of systematically letting go of my thinking that I could jump right back in, am I able to give in to the exhaustion and, as much as able with these two furry creatures who need to be attended to as well, let exhaustion run it’s course. I’m taking my cue from Nora.
I’ve been looking at fear in a new way every morning since I left for Peru a month ago. Really looking at it straight in the eye, praying for it to pass as quickly as it appears. Because it is exhausting to hold onto fear for any length of time.
There are simple things to enjoy like a plate of lightly dressed fresh picked vegetables, a perfect mound of rice one would find on the plate of any Peruvian meal, and a few packed in olive oil sardines to balance the meal. It’s no wonder that food, and its easy comfort, plays such an important role in rest.
Blessed summer. It’s good to find the wonder again…