We are all on a journey. At times we think we are captain of the ship and we know where we are steering our vessel. Then the winds blow, there are dark clouds and debris clouds the air and we hold on knowing we are not in control. If we hang on most times the air clears, the water settles and we lift our heads to see we are in a new location heading down a slightly altered coarse. We surface and adjust our bearings. We begin again slowing, with caution but we move forward.

I have ridden a few rough rides in this life of mine. I know how to hold on. I know how to navigate those swelling waves of emotion that rock the boat. I have lost dear people, I have struggled with personal health issues and lost career placements that were dear to me. I have tumbled over the life struggles like many people. I know my life is not unusual for many people have suffered way more than I. It is what life is about in some ways.  It is about finding ways to right the boat and keep going.

This year I am not in the boat. I am on shore watching the struggles of my daughter and her partner. I see the storms rolling in and wish to right their boat. I want to do the hard work of life for them, knowing full well I can’t and shouldn’t. This hard work of fighting the storms is what makes them strong. What gives them bonds to hold onto and can create the lasting love and care that keeps a relationship going. I also know a storm like this can break the boat and send them all into the sea to struggle on their own.

Ok enough of the boat metaphor – the tale I tell is of my daughter and her partner. It is really their story to share so I will only say that after three long, a bit scary and very hard days mother to be had a C section late on the third day. (The side story is this mother to be is also going through chemo therapy for breast cancer. Their boat has been rocking for about three months already.)  At this point those of us waiting were holding our breath, time had slowed and we were wandering around not knowing what to do or how to keep ourselves distracted. It was around 8:30 pm or so we got the call that all was well. Baby was here, new Mother was sore and exhausted but in good shape and new Dad was overwhelmed with excitement and love. In other words, they weathered a large roaring storm!

This little family has returned home to chart a new direction. Things are still not going to be calm. There is surgery to recover from, and chemo to deal with later this week but we are all smiles for now.

IMG_5897.jpegMy story to this drama is wondering how do we handle watching/helping people we love struggle when life throws storm after storm at them. I know enough to provide help both physical – we brought a large, warm lunch over once they returned home. The emotional side, I know to listen and be there if a shoulder is needed or just to let them know we are here to listen. I know not to rush in with advise. We all need to find our footings and these two are very skilled adults.

It’s all good really! It is just today, the Monday after, I am a bit lost. We have surfaced. We have all made it through but the rocking boat was not ours so things have changed but not really at our house. We watched, supported and loved. Now we return to our daily routines but my soul still feels a bit shaky. My feet, which have been a solid ground the whole time, don’t know how to move forward. I am stuck for a moment. The urge to run over to be sure all is well surfaces every few hours. Well, really it surfaces every few minutes. I could text but have hidden my phone – they need their space and they will call if the need arises.

So I have started laundry, I am writing, I may go trim the bushes even through it is wet and getting ready to rain. I will go out into the world to see that life was/is moving along while we stopped and held our breath for a few days.

I read a bit of Mary Oliver to help me strengthen my soul and settle my feet deep into the soil – steadying myself after watching the wild ride last week.

Mary Oliver –

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,IMG_7528.jpg
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”IMG_7530.jpg


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to Journeys

  1. arjeha says:

    Sounds like you are doing all you can do to keep things in a steady keep for everyone. It is hard when we see someone we love going through difficult times. We naturally want to reach out and make things right. Wishing smooth sailing from here on.

  2. mbhmaine says:

    This is such a heartfelt and beautiful post, Joanne. You’ve captured so much here. I’m so glad your family has weathered this latest storm and wish you all the best with the other challenges. It sounds like you’re doing all the things you can to support them in a loving and respectful way. Thinking of all of you! And congratulations on the arrival of your grandchild!

  3. Ramona says:

    Congrats, Grandma. I was frightened for your family as your post started with the boat metaphor. So relieved that grandbaby arrived (finally) and everyone is home and recuperating and adjusting to life as a new family. I understand your soul’s shakiness after the stress, and love how you turned to familiar tasks and Mary Oliver to steady your soul as you move forward. Prayers for continued healing.

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