Toby's altar to Ben, including stuffed animal congregation and Welcome Home Ben! sign.
Yesterday I had this odd sensation of being an observer in my own life. I sat at the kitchen table with my mom, Toby and Ben and looked around the kitchen thinking, How did I get here? Aren't I living it up at the Ritz? Isn't it snowing outside? I drove through Sonoma county and saw the vistas of rolling green vineyards and orchards as through the eyes of someone who was returning home after a very long time away.
I am already finding it difficult to make time for my writing. The business I need to attend to (my homeschool committees, the phone calls, the laundry, the marketing, the animals, the children) absorbs my free time like a parched sponge touching water. I'm trying to draw some lines though. I sent Mark away this morning with a gruff, "I need to get my work done!" and a reminder, "You get to go to work to do that. I have to stay here and try to work when no one believes that's what I'm doing!"
The clouds have broken here over our sodden farm. Last night there was a deluge and yesterday it poured for half the day.The mud is truly ridiculous out in the pasture. I'm going to need hip waders soon just to feed the equines. They are mud-covered and slow and a bit sullen. No cantering around the pasture right now. Cassidy, our little blonde donkey, hates to be wet. He cowers if I try to pet him when he's waterlogged. But, the sun broke through for several hours yesterday which allowed for some fur drying and some wonderful donkey hugs. No one out there acts like they noticed I have suddenly appeared there in the pasture again. Only I appreciate that I've been gone and now I'm back.
The brotherly bickering has begun already. And the involved discussions of Dungeons and Dragons and LEGO and video games. I went to the market yesterday and spent a fortune just on veggies and fruit and had finished a Golden Delicious apple before reaching the car. I spent the afternoon cooking dinner. I am feeling quite alive, returning to my routines is waking me up.
There's something to be said for being on the "other side." As soon as my tush hit the seat for our plane trip home on Monday, a vision of my vegetable garden sprang into my head. I turned to Mark and we started making plans. "It's not too late to get it moving," I said. "I can actually have a summer garden this year." I have spent the past many months preparing for February. I made no plans past March 1. In fact, our computer crashed two weeks before our trip to Philadelphia and the only thing we were unable to resurrect was my calendar. But it didn't pose too much of a problem, since I had barely put anything of import on it for the future.
And suddenly sitting there on the plane, it came to me. The Future. My Future. I have a bit of space and time to do something. I am not fully consumed with worries and doctors appointments. I can weed and plant and make something beautiful in our garden. I can even make war on the gophers. (Take heed, oh you nasty rodents!) I feel like a dry sponge, my plans the drops of water...what potential, what possibility!
We had a smooth day of travel Monday. Ben did spectacularly well. He was dosed up on meds and had zero pain, our goal. I’m very glad that we gave ourselves a couple extra days before we went home. (We’d made plane reservations for both 2/27 and 3/1 as insurance and since we were flying Southwest, all we had to do was cancel the first one…now we have a credit which we’ll be able to use the next time we fly to Philly.) Ben was really not in good enough shape to hack the trip on Saturday, but by Monday we all felt that he’d be able to manage it. And he did, with flying colors.
We hired a driver, Kevin, to take us to the airport in a Lincoln Towncar. It’s bigger and more comfortable than a cab and he doesn’t drive like a cabbie. Easier on the nerves, if you know what I mean.
We’d ordered medical assistance when we booked our flights and that was such a help. The wheelchair came to get Ben at the curb, we checked our bags and were at the front of the security line in a minute. Don’t know if it was Ben’s brace hardware or his titanium rod hardware, but he set off the metal detector! Boy, was he thrilled. Apparently, he always wanted to do that! The security officers checked him out in the “booth” gently, respectfully, and kindly. We were none the worse for it. In addition, the wheelchair got us on the flights first and helped once we got off the planes (on both legs of the trip), too.
I had intentionally booked a flight that stopped in Phoenix, a place with little weather interference. It was a good call. Our flights were on time and trouble free. The break between flights gave Ben an opportunity to stretch his legs and grab a smoothie. All in all, quite a breeze.
Our trip took a total of 14 hours door to door. My other boys (and my mom, who stayed with them, and my sister, who drove us all the way home from the airport) were thrilled to see us, but especially Ben who was doing so well. It was really hard to be separated by so much distance and we were gone for two and a half weeks. Ben had quite the “rock star” life at the Ritz (something his brothers are not only aware of but somewhat envious of, as well), and though that made all the difference for him (he’s actually looking forward to returning for his lengthenings just because of that hotel and the staff there!!), it makes it a bit challenging to be normal again.
Today I'll be calling our Feldenkrais practitioner to set up some appointments for Ben. He's been having painful muscle spasms probably from holding his body in a braced position, protecting himself from his pain. Not to mention adjusting to a diferent posture. He's also quite stiff.
I'm thinking about what to make for dinner, about communing with my equines, and about finishing some of the many knitting projects I began in Philadelphia. I'm pulling my gardening books off the shelf again and returning some emails. I'm feeling a huge sense of appreciation for our care at the Ritz-Carlton, rather than the wistfulness I thought I'd feel. I assume that has much to do with what I have here, in my farm mama life.
As I've said before, I'm one lucky girl.