I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out, holding in….
These are song lyrics by another Canadian, Sarah McLachlan.
I’m not entirely sure why they came to mind as I laid in bed a few mornings ago but it struck me that it was, really, the perfect time of day for me.
In between sleep and in between my day unfolding. I gave it some thought.
With Cleo and Sport curled up in bed with me its the time I don’t think about their ages. I don’t see Cleo’s right hind leg slipping out from beneath her on the tile floor. I don’t watch her miss a stair or two more frequently than ever and I’m not thinking about the fact she is at least 14 years old.
I watch her sleep soundly in her completely-deaf world up high on her Daddy’s pillow and her breaths are comfortable, peaceful and even. I don’t have to think about her heart murmur, her arthritis, her cognitive dysfunction…
I am not reminded of the fact my beloved Siamese companion who is likely spooned up next to me with my arm draped around him is aging. He will be 19 years old in a few months but I don’t see his fragile frame because he is tight up against my body and his aging blue eyes are closed.
It is the time of day I haven’t been to the kitchen yet, where enormous, loud dehumidifiers hum and suck water from the walls that poured snow melt down their beams a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t walked through the wind tunnel created by equally obnoxious fans whirring away to dry out the walls that are wet from the cracked glass that is part of a one-year-plus insurance claim that continues to haunt us.
I haven’t once again faced living with torn-apart walls and debris on my floors because I am lying in our bedroom on the other end of the house- a bedroom we were out of for almost a full year thanks to this claim.
It is a bedroom without a phone (by design) and its far enough away from the phones that when they do ring, we can’t hear them. So it is at this time of day that I don’t suck in my breath every time I hear it ring knowing Alistair is on his hours-long journey from Bismarck to Montana.
He calls at specific intervals, where he has cellular service, knowing I am worrying that day like I do every day, every 2 weeks, as I have done for the past 12 years.
He travels across the frozen plains and through a mountain pass on snowy, windy, often lonely roads and both of us know the length of time it takes to get from Circle to Jordan… from Great Falls to Lincoln… from phone call to phone call.
In that quiet time of day I have not yet caught of glimpse of myself in any mirror.
I haven’t had to look at the woman who is inching closer to 50 and pulling further and further from 40. I haven’t thought about belly fat or the bum knees that don’t allow me to run anymore. I haven’t washed or combed through my thinning, grey hair or wondered when my upper arms became so unattractive. I haven’t tried to squeeze into jeans that I swear fit fine just last year nor have I had to put on my reading glasses yet.
I haven’t had the chance to look out any windows at that time of day to see just how wrong accuweather was the night before. I am blissfully unaware of the inches of snow that fell, or the ones that are still falling and I haven’t had to think about firing Big Red up for a few passes down the driveway.
It is the time of day where I definitely haven’t checked my emails or read the texts alerting me to the fact individuals in Hawaii and in Vancouver have been trying to reach me to let me know my stepdaughter was in the ICU after having had an emergency the night prior that led to her requiring 10 units of blood and that things had been harrowing for the surgical team as they struggled to keep her tiny body alive.
I haven’t yet given any thought to the fact we could have lost Whitney and none of us was with her.
I haven’t yet thought about the emotional nightmare she would be going through along with the healing that would have to occur after the arduous ordeal she had survived.
I haven’t spent hours on the phone trying to get flights for her father to join her- flights that would take 2 full days and re-route him, if he wasn’t bumped, through San Francisco and Chicago.
I haven’t yet realized, in the time and in between, that I do have those motherly fears and worries and gut-wrenching anguish despite not having had given birth to my step kids.
And then I get up.
And I help Cleo off the bed and I watch Sport use the ottoman to assist himself.
And I get Cleo her meds (wrapped in cheese) and I change the water dish (always adding ice cubes) and I get Bebe her Greenies because she is meowing at me to do so and I turn the fans off so I can at least think and I look at the calendar to see all of the obligations, responsibilities, meetings and planned events ahead.
I then I start to see the opportunities.
The next date Alistair will be coming home.
And I do see myself in the mirror and despite the odd wonky tooth and the increasingly- Eastern European-bloc eyebrows that I need to trim I’m actually okay with hurtling towards my 50s because I’m having fun being me.
I know the teeth aren’t perfect because I chose summer school skating over braces when I was younger.
I know the laugh lines and wrinkles are there from countless hours spent laughing with Alistair and our friends and our animal companions.
I know the grey hairs are earned after working hard at a few different careers and that I’m not going through puberty in spandex anymore so maybe its okay to buy a pair of jeans a size up.
And I am so thankful that both Gareth and Whitney have pursued healthful lifestyles into their own 30s because Whitney’s physical strength helped her survive what easily could have taken her life. With 10 units of other peoples’ blood running through her to keep her alive her healthy organs kept doing what they needed to do to get her through that first night.
And the next night.
And the night after that.
Her mom was able to join her on Kauai (amazingly she was going there and was able to bump her flight up a few days) and her husband and in-laws surrounded her with love and support and we were able to talk via FaceTime and before we all knew it she was sent home from the hospital one week ago.
And I’m so thankful to have an amazing, talented, good man who loves me enough to keep driving 10 or 11 hours every 2 weeks to spend time with me. The same man who knows exactly how to make me laugh and who brought me 3 ferrets for Christmas, knowing they are the best present I could ever ask for! He shares my world view and he gets the jokes. We crack each other up quoting lines from Frasier or bringing Spirt of Loki into the conversation.
We cherish cocktails in the snow-surrounded hot tub with the tiki torches blazing and Hawaiian music serenading us from inside the house.
He has let me love him for 25 years this month and I don’t know what I would do without him.
And even though the insurance claim woes continue, I still have a stunningly lovely house in an absolutely incredible part of the world with vaulted ceilings, the coolest bar in town and room for me to be me.
I will have to face a world without beloved spirits at some point and as Dr. Mummy I may even have to have a talk with myself somewhere down the road.
But that time isn’t here yet.
And Alistair is back with me in Montana. Plowing snow in Big Red right now!
And we are hoping to FaceTime with Whitney later today and talk about our lives and how she is feeling and how she isn’t going to put taking surfing lessons off anymore because she has learned the truest, most pure value of every given day.
Including the time and in between.
How lucky we all are.
PS- donate blood!