The past few days felt almost normal. Dad and the kids stayed busy with projects like cleaning out the garage and clearing honey suckle from one of the hills. On Saturday, my body felt like it was telling me to slow down. The adrenaline surges and stresses of the past weeks finally caught up with me. I refrained from any more projects, made myself some broth, and rested.
There are patterns to the inner life. In addition to situational, the onset of my tiredness was almost certainly hormonal. I can’t stress enough how important it is for me to recognize this. Yesterday, after a normal conversation over the phone with my sister, and upon hearing that my in-laws were coming over to drop off some cookies, I felt sick to my stomach.
There was an overwhelming feeling that I needed not to throw up, but to cry. I sat out on the bench with my husband and all the kids running around waiting for Grandma and Papa to pull in, and the feeling intensified. I wondered if I should go and cry before they came or try to hold off until after they had left. I got up and went into my room and cried.
I cried over the loneliness that has been my life, the price I have paid for the life that I wanted. One of the boys ran into the house and ran down the hall and into his room. He saw me crying and asked why I was sad and I told him because I was lonely. He said, “You’re not lonely”. Had a grown man said anything like that to me in that moment I’d have flipped out.
But he was a boy. He ran and got the giant stuffed dinosaur we’d recently gotten him for his birthday. He sat him down next to my head, and I gave the dinosaur a kiss. The Wednesday before all this virus stuff blew up I’d been swimming at the Y. A 70-year old lady from Japan or Taiwan approached me in the water and asked if I would teach her how to swim.
She said she’d almost drowned when she was eleven and been terrified of water all her life. I showed her how to hold the flotation pole and kick. She practiced kicking up and down in the shallow end for about fifteen minutes while I continued swimming. After that I told her the next thing she should try once she felt ready is putting her head all the way under the water.
The woman was beside herself with excitement. She said she’d been taking swimming lessons at the Y for three months and hadn’t learned any of this. The teacher was a college girl and the older woman thought that the girl was too afraid to tell her what to do. “I too old for her”, she said. The whole thing started feeling weird and intrusive. I’d gone there to swim, not get involved with a lady I didn’t know. My stranger danger sirens started going off. I’m sweet and naive and this lady was a criminal, flattering me and trying to lure me in with her sad “almost drowned as a little girl” story.
It’s possible she was just telling me the truth. I feel better when I think of it that way. Somewhere in our conversation it came out that I had five kids. She immediately said, “Oh! I cook for you!” This was the point where I had the thought that maybe God had brought this woman into my life on purpose. I’d teach her to swim, and she could cook for me. Apparently she’d been a business woman who didn’t learn to cook til she was 45-years old. Her daughter had told her she was a great mom, but that she couldn’t cook. She decided to learn how to cook and now loves cooking for her family.
This is going somewhere. One of the things this lady said to me was that “being a mom very hard”, but “you never be lonely”. I thought again that perhaps God had put this woman into my life on purpose, to encourage me with words I could tuck into my swim bag and remember sometime later. They came to mind when I kissed the dinosaur. I finished crying and wiped my tears. My in-laws pulled into the drive and they stayed in the car while we circled around and visited from our social distance. It was good to see them, and good to go from crying on my bed to being all together again.