Do we ever stop fretting over our babies–even when all three of them are in their forties? August 3rd, the eve of Sarah’s fortieth birthday, she called to say she was in a hospital in Peru, having sustained a double fracture of her ankle while hiking. The next day, her birthday, she posted photos of the X-rays on Facebook, and lamented the abrupt ending of her fortieth celebration, which was to culminate by hiking legendary Machu Picchu. In the wonder of being connected across the globe, she was able to talk to her surgeon-father, and send photos of the X-rays to the family’s long time friend, and orthopedist. The decision was made to make the long and arduous journey back to California and have the surgery performed at home.
After talking to my other two daughters, and crying plenty of tears, they both reassured me, as only daughters can do. When I finally went to bed, and thought of Sarah in a hospital bed far away, I remembered–as I always do on August 3rd–being in a hospital bed in Boston, with a Caesarian section scheduled early the next morning. So afraid, in the middle of the night, about what would happen to my two children at home if I were to die in this childbirth, and what would become of this new baby. What mother has not been awakened by such nightmares. A mama deer and her two babies have been hanging out in our yard, assuming that I’ve grown geraniums and flowers in window boxes, just for them. I startled her from the porch the other day, and was aghast when she scurried up the hill, leaving her Bambi behind. Of course, this is the nature of things, and she is teaching her baby how to take care of herself. But, it is easy to forget the nature of things, when you know your babies are in pain–even if they are forty-somethings. With Nick at her side the whole time, Sarah is now safely back in California, welcomed home by her nearby sister, Valerie, who had left llama-shaped balloons, champagne and flowers at their house, as a day-after birthday celebration. The kids are all right, the kids are all right.
So, where was I before this ordeal? Well, a coolish weather front blew in this week-end, bringing a lovely break from the hot white days. It’s hazy from the California fires, but not much smoke smell. I went for a little walk with a dear friend yesterday, out in the waterfowl refuge at the head of the lake. The clouds softly draped the rising sun and shafts of light crisscrossed the sky. The reeds and cat-tails were verdant green and the water barely made a ripple at the shoreline. My favorite old weeping willow tree looked strong and healthy. When I first started walking out there, years ago, there was a sagging, dilapidated old farmhouse falling into the ground, just behind the tree. Especially in the quiet of early mornings, when the wind was blowing and the tree creaked and the branches swayed, the house felt haunted in its forlornness and lost history. They tore it down when the refuge was opened up to the public, and then I wondered if the tree, now all alone in the meadow, might be weeping sad tears. But, I can see, after life’s storms, the tree has hung tough, deeply rooted, and yet still enough to hear the rustling of her own leaves.
“Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.”
– Karen Shragg, Think Like a Tree