My sister is a guru of music. Ever since I can remember she’s had the pulse on good music. It was always quite the difference between me and the Top 40. She introduced me to many artists, including Joni Mitchell. Mitchell must be played to only those who will appreciate her goodness, and played louder in the presence of those who don’t. She walks the line of wanting to keep her tucked away or played as loud as your speakers will allow on repeat until everybody understands the meaning of what it is that she is saying, or you are feeling.
And tonight, is a Joni Mitchell night. It’s been a rough week to put it mildly. To begin, Chip has decided that sleeping through the night is over-rated. He’s done with it. He likes to get up in the middle of the night around 3:00, then scream even though we are rocking him, comforting him etc, finally fall asleep and then get up for good at 5:00. We bring toys in his crib in a vain attempt to keep him occupied until 6:30 when I can finally stumble out of bed and into his room to start the day. And that’s on a good night. So my sleep has been next to nothing, and today I had a mini-melt down of sorts and ended up at Target. The last time I had a melt down like that, I was 8 months pregnant and bought marscapone cheese and ate it for days.
But, despite the sleep, Chip keeps growing and everyday I tell him to stop and that he needs to be a baby forever. But his constant scooting and attempts to crawl tell me that he has other plans. Which is fine, because I will just swaddle him until he goes to college. Regardless of the inches and milestones, I am so amazed by his courage. He tries something new everyday. He plays with a new toy, smiles at everyone we meet. Rolls over for the first time, and is completely trusting that I am not falling asleep at the wheel, that I will feed him, and that what he is doing is working, growing, and moving in the direction that life is taking him. These new things are taking him over, and he has no sense of urge to stop them, to be afraid or to be insecure like it so often happens with many of us. He is carefree, smiles big when he rolls over and gets frustrated that he can’t crawl and follow me out of the room. But all in all, he is brave. Braver than I have been in a long time. I rarely try new things, I give strangers a half smile, and the last time I cracked up and screamed for joy in the middle of the store was way too long ago.
And so all of this hard, this growing up, both watching him and learning to do so as well and this realizing that it’s hard for me to watch him grow up because it’s too fast, and wonder when did I start living my life in slow motion?
But the hardest part about this week was finding out that one of my closest confidants, and dear friends had a stroke. She was only two days past her 50th birthday, and even writing this I have tears streaming down my cheeks, and I can barely make out the keys on my keyboard. She is a beautiful woman, full of life, full of faith, courage, and bravery. I know that she didn’t live her life in slow motion. Her stroke has caused her to lose feeling in part of her body, but she has regained that, praise God. She is supposed to be discharged in a few days, and although I can’t be there to welcome her home because she is in Colorado, I can only imagine the relief that she is feeling. To be in her own bed, without the halls of the hospital must feel like rest for her weary soul. I hear she is doing much better, and for that, I am more than extremely grateful. She will still have to go through lots of rehabilitation still, but the doctors expect a full recovery. And all of this news is, praiseworthy.
But truthfully, I can’t stop crying and thinking about it. Because she still is going through it. She is a speaker, a preacher of the Gospel and she is funny, witty, and loves the written and spoken word. She chooses her words carefully, makes others laugh, and never takes what you say lightly. She listens. But it is her speech that is showing up to be the biggest challenge. And so my middle of the night wake-ups with Chip are actually an interruption of me lying in bed thinking of my dear friend. Wondering if she is ok. If she is scared. If she knows I am praying for her. But she is strong, and she is a fighter. I know she will get through this and is already experiencing so much progress, it’s truly incredible.
But the thing that really gets me about this whole thing is how she is trying something everyday, almost like for the first time. She is learning the basics of speech, of putting words together. She is re-learning lots of things that Chip will learn as his days pass. And here I am, on my couch, in my sweatpants and I am bookended by two people that hold such a dear place in my heart and both of them are living, experiencing, and trying new things. One for the first time, one for the second. But both are being brave, courageous, and fighting for the next step. They are both growing fast. Faster than I expected when Chip was born and faster than the doctors gave a prognosis for. They are beautiful.
A friend of mine once gave me a song by Josh Ritter “Girl in the War” and while I am still figuring these bookends that are waking me up at night, making me witness miracles, and teaching me bravery, this song, after Joni sets the stage, seems appropriate. It walks the line of defending what is yours, being confused, and fighting for what is right, all with a beautiful biblical reference thrown in there.
You listen, and I’m going to stop living in slow motion. I will pretend my feet are on fire.