At this time last year, I was watching my husband learn to walk on one leg. I remember how it felt to be a spectator while the physical therapist calmly guided him down, as he fell trying to maneuver the stairs on one leg and a crutch. It had been one of those life changing seasons for Terry and I that began with an aneurism behind his right knee and ended with an above the knee amputation. The 6 week hospitalization before that final surgery felt brutal to both of us and yet, after the decision was made, we never looked back. It was the right choice in that absurd decision we never saw coming.
During this season of change, quilting has given me a place of quiet. It’s not the sewing as much as it is pulling together the colors and patterns that make for the wildly colorful, unexpected concoctions that I just love. So, on the morning when the wind chill hovered around -40 degrees, it made perfect sense to grab a cup of coffee and head down to my sewing room. Why get dressed, when its just going to be me and my oversized mastiff puppy? And so I spent the morning in my PJ’s hunkered over my sewing machine with all those beautiful pieces and parts to a very pink, orange, yellow, with a bit of chartreuse quilt.
I had just let my uber large dog out the sliding glass door in my sewing room and as I peeked out after a few minutes…there he was up on the icy sidewalk…with a squirrel hanging from his mouth. Frozen stiff as a board, with all fours extended. This dog has been relentless in his duty to keep squirrels out of his yard. Even though I believe these creatures laugh as they skitter up the trees, my dog never gives up the hunt. So, in his face I see this “I finally caught one!!” look of joy.
Now, I can imagine that frozen squirrel is a treat for a beast o’ burden like mine, but…yuck. After a little encouragement, he dropped the prize and came inside. And as I returned to my sewing…it hit me. If I didn’t go out and pick that squirrel up, every time I let the dog out, he would make a bee-line for it. Darn it. Now…I’m mad. I mean really angry as I grab the fabric and send it flying through the machine with record breaking speed.
No way, I say to the Creator of the universe, I am not doing that. Nope. Not me. I am not going to pick up that frozen piece of road kill. Not my job. That’s a man’s job, if you ask me. Not me…not doing it. Nope.
And then…reality hits. There is really no choice. Terry can’t do it. He could not walk down that icy slope with a shovel. Maybe not even in good weather, but certainly not in this. And, oh let me tell you…I had a conversation with the Almighty on the way up the stairs, as I threw on my shoveling coat and slipped my feet into the nearest shoes.
“Really? What else do you want? I have done my share of lifting, carrying, shoveling and all sorts of mens’ kinda work over this last year, haven’t I?” I continue spewing as I grab the snow shovel and head out into the frozen tundra.
I take baby steps down the slippery slope and with my shovel extended as far as it could go, I scoop up that squirrel. More baby steps down the driveway to the garbage can. As I flip the squirrel in, its tail catches the wind, waving a fond farewell.
You’re stepping on my last nerve, I tell Jesus as a bit of movement catches my attention. Of course. My neighbor, Jerry is just pulling out of his driveway and with a funny kind of smirk, waves a hello. I put Jesus on hold while I have a short in-my-head chat with Jerry. “Yes, Jerry. That was a frozen squirrel.” With a huff, I make my way back up the driveway and into the hallway, where I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror. A vertical panoramic view of….wow! I take in the sight beginning with my red rubber gardening shoes that hold the feet wrapped in purple and blue fuzzy socks. As my eyes make their way up, the next 18 inches of legs showing off their bright whiteness as they peek out of the red and white polka-dot PJ’s that I am still wearing at 3:00 in the afternoon. My bright blue shoveling jacket cannot hide the florescent pink hoodie and to top off the ensemble is my short hair that is sticking out every-which-a-way.
“Oh, man”, I say out loud. “Jerry is going to need some therapy after catching a glimpse of this. So much for all those What Not To Wear episodes I watched every week.”
I had to laugh. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t stop myself as this absurd kind of joy swept through my heart, easing the pain. It wasn’t the first time Jesus has reminded me of Himself through the absurd. Sometimes, its the only way to get my attention.
And, I didn’t hesitate to tell the story to Terry when he got home. Talking helps as I wrestle through these new realities that hold both deep sadness and the new kind of joy that days like this offer. Talking helps, but it doesn’t change the truth of the weight all these changes bring. Sometimes, it takes a moment of absurd for me to release the weight of what is true and balance it with what is sweet in this life.
Love looks very different to me than it used to. It might look like scooping up a frozen squirrel or carrying the grocery bags in. Kindness comes in smaller, more gentle ways as I learn not to compare my life with the lives of others, because when I do…mine always seems to be the one off kilter. I want to be content where I am, with a God who is in my head, listening to all those conversations. A God who orchestrates the universe and still has a moment to laugh with me. It doesn’t take much. He has quite a sense of humor.
Kris Jakubaitis believes our stories are how we hear the voice of God. She loves everything that is fiber and color…quilting with bright beautiful fabrics is how she continues to surround herself with what she knows to be her….a bit crazy and surprising with no need to match. She has 2 sons, 1 perfect grandson and a granddaughter in the making (in need of more tutus)! God has shown Kris that He loves her wild and quirky kind of beauty, and she finds it an honor to be in a place where she can show others the same. She has a special place in her heart for orange ribbons.
I sense a “resolve” that comes into your day to day world/ along side the hard of reality.
Your words settled into an open place within me this morning.
Kris, I needed this reminder today. I was in the midst of one of those difficult places within a phone conversation, trying to find my way back to a space of lightness. Not to my great honor, I started checking out a little, only half-listening as I checked my email…and found the link to your post. I was able to laugh, to “turn around”, to share the laughter of your post as a part of the conversation. We ended in laughter and in love with our journey. The tears in my eyes now are grateful tears. Thank you for bringing redemption to one of those places I invariably fall into and don’t easily find my way out again. Deeply blessed by your gift.
“Love looks different to me than it used to.” Thank you for letting us into your world with such honesty and for letting us feel the joy of laughter with you. The invitation to find love and kindness in new ways is staying with me.
Kris, you are a valiant lover. Thank you for letting us into your world. Your thought processes. Your reality. Your writing swept me away to your new reality with Terry. This new journey calls me to cry out for mercy. Blessings to both of you. Plus, I am a “wearer” of red and white pajamas in all hours of the day. Nothing like neighbors to make us see what we look like. Hilarious. I hate that you had to get the dead squirel. I will remember you as I certainly will do the same with “road kill” around this forest that I live in. What sewing project were you working on?
I love your humor and kindness to your new reality! Just what I needed today :). You are such a joy to me!