Bounty by the bowlful on Lammas
An Ancient Harvest Day
As local gardens brim over and fresh produce is everywhere I look, I’m thinking about the ancient tradition of Lammas. Halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox, Lammas marked the beginning of the harvest that would tide people over through the winter. It seems strange to think about winter in August, but my daughter and I are looking forward to winter as never before, hoping it will mark a time of healing and a return to wholeness for both of us. Next week we will go to Seattle for tests to determine whether my daughter can be safely sewn back together, eliminating the need for the ostomy bag. Though another surgery will of course require another time of healing and recover, it will almost certainly be far less fraught than the last one. By now, we both feel like we have the skills to meet whatever the normal consequences of such a surgery might require.
It’s oddly disconcerting to consider what a future without pain and awkward, frequent inconvenience might look like for my daughter. She’ll once again be able to navigate things she had lost the ability to handle over the long years of illness, as we both saw with great pleasure over her recent recovery. The horrible setback of recent weeks has not been pleasant but it has shown us that we work well together even under duress and that she has not been held back by it in any but physical ways. She is thinking deeply about her future in ways she hasn’t bothered to for a long time, since she wasn’t so sure she would actually have one. Now she knows she will, she wants to shape her life differently, and that will take some new thinking.
Choosing What’s Next
Looking ahead this way, I’m realizing that I too will have some re-thinking to do while transitioning from being a caregiver to simply being in charge of my own life again. I remember after my parents and my husband had all died, I would suddenly feel uneasy at times, with a mild panic, as if I had left my purse at home. Without the constant anchor of being needed, I felt weirdly untethered. This time, I’m looking forward to being able to do more of what I want to do, from gardening and singing to knitting and sewing and finally making that quilt I’ve been planning for years. Ok, decades. Heaven knows I’ve got enough fabulous fabric in my stash to make ten quilts. Hmmm, now there’s an idea…
In recent conversations with a young(er) friend, I was reminded of an intriguing practice. Whenever we come to the end of a chapter, before we walk into the next one, it’s valuable to choose a theme for whatever comes next. Last time I did this, almost ten years ago now, I chose satisfaction and contentment, things I had not experienced much of. That combination was actually quite pleasant to work towards and I succeeded in becoming far more comfortable with both those sensations. After a day or two, my friend reported back that she has chosen to guide her next chapter through connection and balance. I love that combination, and though I feel pretty solid on the connection part, balance is definitely a concept to live into. To partner it, I’m thinking about harmony. Or maybe kindness. Hmmm again.
My underlying goal is to open up my life again without falling back into hyper-responsibility. Since childhood, I’ve tended to accumulate responsibilities, accepting a new set of tasks even before I’ve finished whatever I’ve been working on at the moment. It becomes a never-ending cycle of must-do work without a lot of space for want-to activities. Obviously it worked for me or I wouldn’t have kept on doing it for so long.
Now, however, something has changed within me. Getting to NO and staying there is easier than ever, especially with the unarguable reason; I’m a full time caregiver. When I’m not that anymore, I want to hang on to that inner permission to NOT do things just because I don’t want to do them. Why not give someone else a turn? On some level, I think I’ve been trying to earn the air I breathe. It will be good to learn to breathe for free. Right? Onward!