This month was a whirlwind of activity in so many aspects of my life. It is a month filled with joyous birthdays of family and friends, while it is also the month in which my niece Erin died in 2005. There were ups and down with my personal and work life, as well as with health, faith, family, and friends. Yet the thing this month that has me bursting with love: people reaching out to check on me.
My pastor, colleagues, my friend of the most years, other treasured friends, family, and church family have reached out to ask if I am okay. At times, the answer is “no”, while it is usually and mostly a “yes”. The answer isn’t what matters. The reaching out is what filled this month with overwhelming love and gratitude.
Most of the time I am living in gratitude for being single. My siblings and I haven’t had much luck in the romance department, and I am often grateful not to be in a poor relationship. But this month, I have no idea why, I actually think of the possibility of being in love with someone. A good man, kind and generous, and to be in partnership with for life. I don’t regret that I haven’t had this thus far, and I certainly don’t expect it. However, I feel like it might be possible. I have no data or knowledge or experience to tell me this would be true, just a new and unusual feeling. Maybe it’s from watching too many Hallmark movies.
As for Hallmark movies and crime dramas, I am teaching our semi-feral kitties to enjoy them. I pray one day we are all one happy kitty family with four loving kitties that get along more than not. Until then, I treasure my time alone with Poppy and Willow, and I treasure my Joy kitty’s company when I’m not with the semi-feral sweeties. Of course, there’s Merry, my mom’s kitty. At the same time, I’m keeping my brother in prayer as he weighs getting a new dog while still missing terribly his dog Rufus. Rufus was nearly 16 years old and he’d been with us for over 15 of those years. That big shepherd/chow/who-knows-what mutt was loved by many, especially the apple customers. My heart goes out to all missing a furry friend who has gone to heaven to await our arrival.
I am so grateful for the activities of this month. It began with minor surgery to prevent migraines. The procedure will prevent them for the majority of a year, but the healing can take up to a full month, and it is quite painful for the first several weeks. The freedom of migraines from all but weather related (or failing to read labels properly) is well worth this one month a year. Because of this, I spent my birthday quietly in my cat cave with one friend. We both needed that time to escape the world and watch some lovely kitties become comfortable around us feline friendly humans. It was a good day.
The following weekend, my mom and I took the circle tour around Lake Michigan (this is over 1,000 miles). We went through Indiana, Illinois, and spent our first night in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We didn’t see much of it, but mom enjoyed reminiscing about where her family had lived in Chicago as our journey began.
The next day we headed straight up to see my great niece Nicole, her dad, and his girlfriend Heather. Nicole looked very tired, but she was clearly delighted to give us a tour of her campus. Dinner with everyone was a historic bar at Bill’s recommendation, and burgers that were spectacularly tasty. The French fries were also remarkably delicious. I rarely eat so many! In my fry coma, they went back south, while my mom and I drove north to Copper Harbor – the top of the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. We again didn’t see much of the town, but we enjoyed an adorable cabin and the best hotel room bed I’ve experienced to date (and I stay in hotels for approximately six work trips per year (happy 10th anniversary in this job to me)).
The following morning, we drove back to Houghton to spend time with Nicole again. Nicole, mom, and I enjoyed a boat ride on The Portage which did a circle turn in Lake Superior. It was a pleasant day and Nicole was refreshed and enjoyed the ride. After a good hug good-bye, we headed south for dinner in St. Ignace at Jose’s Cantina (excellent meal again at Bill’s suggestion) and over the bridge to our hotel in Gaylord for the night. The next morning brought us on home to Kalamazoo. No one was harmed on this journey (at least two small herds of deer, and about 20 geese were not hit even though they were in the road and gaping at me a little too long).
Work has had a few more downs than ups lately, but with the best of colleagues, they are ensuring that I am well. I am blessed with many colleagues who make this world a better place. And our clients are pretty awesome too. Their kindness can be overwhelming. At the same time, a treasured colleague moved into another position at work. She was an absolute delight to work with, and our office is not only empty without her presence, but hollow without our daily chats about our work, our clients, and life in general. There’s a hole in my work heart. I pray her new colleagues see her as the blessing she is, and I pray that the one to follow her here is as kind of heart and wise of mind.
All of my chinny chin chin hairs are gray. Granted, there are like 6 of them, which of course appeared in high school, as if I wasn’t already awkward and gawky enough. They were mostly blond, and then they turned brown. In recent years, they have slowly each in turn become gray. I find it funny because my brother is 18 years my senior and barely has any gray, but if I were a guy, I’d probably have a gray beard. And I already have that lovely gray highlighting in my bangs from the Good Lord … which also started appearing in high school. It’s funny the gray is so slow on me, when I think I’d like a gray doo.
A friend’s father passed away. One week we’re having a nice lunch commiserating about the silly things our parents do to keep us on our toes and noticing that her dad is slowing down a bit. The next week he was hospitalized and passed on within 24 hours. He was 90, but when you love someone, no amount of time is ever enough. Keeping her and all who have lost loved ones recently in heartfelt prayers.
What a full month! But let’s not forget my loves: Joy, Merry, Willow, and Poppy. Our Pastor has been speaking on rest and renewal. The time I spend each evening hoping to tame Willow and Poppy is my haven. Just being with them, a few Hallmark movies, and slowing down to pet them often is precious time I wouldn’t ordinarily take out of my day is a comfort. Although I cannot yet pick them up, I can pet them, and petting kitties is healing to my soul.
May your soul find rest and renewal.
May peace be yours.
May you know you are loved.