Flashback – little me, 5 years old – reading my Winnie-the-Pooh. These books were my favorites then – I had the whole set: Winnie-the-Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, and the two books of poetry – When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. (I remember my excitement when eventually I turned six and was able to read those poems when I matched the age in the title. 😁) Some of my other treasures at the time are on the shelf next to me – especially my Fisher Price cassette player. When I was 2, that cassette player took a terrible tumble down a long flight of stairs — if I close my eyes I can still see it falling down the orange-carpeted staircase of our house at the time. I can feel my fear – the overwhelming distress – even now tears come to my eyes at the depth of the memory. But it survived and continued to play my music faithfully for years.
I just recently had my 44th birthday, and so much of my life has unfolded in ways outside of my control and unexpected. That’s fairly normal for humans riding around on this planet and subject to Time. But so many things about me have remained unchanged from who I was in this picture – I mean, unlike what appears to be the norm – many, many parts of me are exactly the same as I was in this picture. (Autism spectrum echoes here.) Not only do I read Winnie-the-Pooh as my go-to comfort book, but I began reading it to my sons before they could talk and passed it along as a “comfort story” to them as well. I own multiple box sets, and the boys have the two chapter books in one large, blue volume that is falling apart with love. Music and poetry are also still what I use to help make sense of the world. I no longer have my beloved cassette player, but music remains with me – even without an external source, it is usually playing within me… unless the cacophony of my thoughts drowns it out.
I grew in capacity to understand knowledge, but that didn’t necessarily translate into understanding people. I am always watching this world from somewhere behind my eyes – riding around in this ever-changing and usually uncomfortable body that helps me interact with the world, but always feeling somehow like an alien living inside it. Somewhere along the line, I think I’ve just accepted that being a physical being will always feel like a strange surprise to me. My hands, my eyes, all these parts of me that touch the world – that grant me moments of mingling with others – I am frequently in awe of them, but also not quite sure of them… my eyes themselves can be just as awe-inspiring as the views they give to me.
I was coming home from Hopewell House last night under a golden gibbous moon, listening to music, and allowing myself to ride the waves of emotions from my shift. I knew one resident would finish their transition off this earth that night, and I would not get to say goodbye to them or their loved one who had been there with them throughout my shift. It is hard to just be “the weekend nurse” at a hospice house because I am not usually able to say goodbye. I love working with the dying – its complexity and simplicity – and I love how it informs how I live this life of mine… but love isn’t easy. I am grateful to be where I am… but I am also weary right now – for many reasons.
So tonight, I will turn on an audiobook of Winnie-the-Pooh, and I will curl up in bed beside the pile of books by my pillow. I will close my eyes and let myself be however I am… I will listen to the laughter of my sons and the popping of the woodstove across the room. I will breathe with my mental recording of the rhythm of the sea by my old home – and let it soothe me, even though the memory aches. I don’t know what this next year will bring, but this 44th year is starting off with many blessings. It is good to be here…
Thank you my dear ones, for making this strange human journey so full of love and laughter… even when the path is dark. I love you all.