First of all, I am so grateful for everyone who sent me good thoughts, love and prayers for this past weekend. Even though I was by myself, I was not alone. As I sat in my temporary house nestled in the woods, I played music I loved, meditated, did some yoga, walked in the woods, found an old bookstore, learned how to build a fire (and not burn down the house) and I cried for the life that is being taken from my husband, my son and me by a cruel disease called ALS.
I found this house on Airbnb and its aptly named “The House of Zen”. It’s as if someone plopped a house down in the middle of the forest. You wake up and there are trees all around you, growing right next to your window. It’s amazing. It brings me back to my childhood days when I used to read the books, The Boxcar Children. It was a book series about orphan kids who found an old boxcar and lived in the woods. I thought their life was so romantic, minus the part about being orphans of course, as they would wake up in the woods, build fires, find food and take care of one another. Being in this home gave me a small taste of woods-living. Of course it came with WiFi, a flush toilet, and a pottery barn bathrobe, but still… Did I mention I built a fire?
While I was there I took a walk in the woods one morning. It’s the end of Fall in the Midwest which means that the color brown has replaced the once orange, red and gold hued leaves. Initially I felt a little disappointed I hadn’t decided to take my weekend earlier in the year when the colors were right. As I continued to walk along the path and looked at the flowers that had gone to seed and stepped on the brown leaves that littered the ground, I realized that this death was making way for new growth. If the trees didn’t lose their leaves then there would be no room for new ones. The trees were preparing for the season of Winter and when Spring came they would be ready to sprout buds and grow vibrant green leaves.
Winter is not something any of us can control. Some welcome it with enthusiasm and others (like me) try to survive until its over. None of us can stop it or end it sooner then its going to end. The question isn’t if you want the Winter, the question really is how will you live through the Winter. Will you look for ways to find happiness despite the chill and the ice, or will you huddle inside and throw a blanket over your head, or maybe worse yet, will you stand outside with a hair dryer trying to melt the snow and force Spring to come. I realized that of late my choice had been the later, and trying to melt the snow will only burn out my hair dryer and give me frost bite.
I had a vision of life that said if I would work hard and make the right choices eventually Summer would arrive and I would spend my days laying in the sun and watching cloud animals float by in the sky… forever… The End. But life isn’t like that. Life is a variety of seasons and right now I am in the Winter. I don’t know how long this Winter will last, but it won’t be forever. In the mean time, I can use my energy to prepare for the Spring that is coming so that I am ready for the new growth and I can find moments to be happy and fulfilled even in the Winter. Most of all, I can know that Winter eventually ends and Spring will come. HOPE, it’s the other four letter word I’ve rediscovered.