Old Souls, Kindred Spirits and the Kindness of Others

"Tree" by Frank Kelly

“Tree” by Frank Kelly

Season’s Greetings to you all!

It truly has been a crazy year.

We were literally incapacitated by snow and cold for the first part of the year.  It seemed like every time I started up the car to drive the white-knuckled 5 minutes to work, Katy Perry’s “Perfect Storm” was playing on the radio.  And I wasn’t amused.  But we made it through.

Then the scariest night of my life happened on Easter, when a man broke in to our house while Frank was at work and I was alone with the kids.  I will never, ever, as long as I live, forget the complete terror I felt when I opened the door to Evelyn’s bedroom at 11 p.m. and saw him crouching in the shadows.  Never.  But we survived.  We got out.  We’re safe.  And not a day too soon, it seems, because a man was shot and killed on our former front lawn less than a month after we’d left.

We worked, we worried, we dreamed.  We decided to go, and go we did.  I got sick, and we had to sit in limbo a while. Then Frank had a job prospect, and we used the last of our savings to help him show he was serious, and ultimately, get that job.  So we moved, we settled in, and now, finally, our heads are slowly not spinning any more.

Writing this now, I am still amazed at what we have, and the difference even a year has made.  Where a year ago I would have been puttering around the house alone at this time, while Frank was bundled up working in a grocery distribution centre, we are together, and relaxed, warm and happy.  He is drawing on the couch – when was the last time I saw him draw? The kids are sharing a room, and fast asleep.  We are safe.  We are together.

I’m back to cooking – I even attacked a fresh crab last week.  And I made my first pavlova, and my first sorbet, both of which were amazing.  I’ve done a little bit of sewing, too, for some family Christmas gifts.  I am tentatively trying to redefine my own creativity.  I’m feeling quiet and comfortable enough to examine life without so much fear, at least on the good days.  I think I’m what some people would call “an old soul,” and I think I like that.

There is still worry – I know I need to find work now, and we’ve got to get some kind of childcare for the kids.  The car is starting to prove she is not immortal.  And we owe A LOT of people A LOT of money.  But somehow, we’re here.  And things are really good.

“The snow is finally coming down
The neighborhood kids are running around
The fire burns, the record spins
So let’s forget about what a crazy year it’s been
I don’t need money or shining trees
As long as you sit here next to me
Let’s sing it out like we were young
Merry merry Christmas everyone!”
– Jon McLaughlin

So what remains? What sits on my heart tonight, and every night, as I contemplate the times we’ve been through?  I think of Ireland, I think of Indianapolis, I think of ups and downs, despair and triumph.

I feel gratitude.

I am forever thankful to Indianapolis Metro Police Department – their care, their speed and thoroughness, their kindness to my children and their attitude of understanding, not judgement, at my fears.  Without IMPD, I fear I would have collapsed, from the inside out, with my kids watching.

I am humbled by the high standard of care and personal attention I received at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.  Everyone from the nurses’ aids to Dr. Marley to the financial administrators blew me away.  Those four days of agony and additional ER visit ran us in excess of $7000, but we will only have to pay a very small fraction of it.  In a nation where all we talk about is the disastrous health care system, I will raise my hand and be the first to stand up and applaud it, at least in this particular instance, and say “thank you” with tears streaming down my face.  If ever I have money to spare, I plan to leave some to this hospital, or others, to help out persons like me who were under huge financial hardship when my body failed me.

And, not least of all, I am exceedingly, unendingly grateful to a long list of individuals.  I think of friends we left behind in Indy – the free babysitters, the givers of money, the sharers of food, the furniture collectors, the rescuers in times of need, the ones who made us laugh, the ones who sat with us when we cried.  I think of those who reminded me of my faith, wrapped it up and held it close to my heart and didn’t chide me for doubting.  I think of people in La Crosse, Bozeman, Seattle, who lent their homes, gave us food and flowers and presents for our kids as we made our big move. I remember the family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and bosses we said goodbye to back in Drogheda – their constant generosity to us, both physical and spiritual, always warms me especially this time of year.   I think of all the people all over the place, who have been sending prayers, thoughts, and good vibes, all along. Ever since the beginning of our family. It’s nothing short of staggering to me, how many people care.

"Up" by Frank Kelly

“Up” by Frank Kelly

A few months ago, I was questioning a lot.  I was asking “what’s the point” a lot.  I was doubting myself, my life, my worth, my purpose.  I absolutely believed that there was a God, and he/she did not care about me anymore.  In a sense, 2014 was the hardest year I’ve lived yet.

But tonight, when I look back on all that my family and I have come through together, and all the lovely, beautiful folks who helped us get there, I know I have about a thousand answers to my earlier “what’s the point” queries.  I can sit here and say to you most unequivocally that I’m thankful for the loss and the gain we’ve seen together, and, most of all, that I’m here to say it.

My soul is restored.

Psalm 23

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