The Screen-Free Quarantine – Day 34 – What matters most

The Screen-Free Quarantine -Day 34

Day 34 was a down day for me. I had terrible dreams the night before. My father, who died a year ago in May, was in the dream, having a heart attack, and only I was there to save him. I fumbled incessantly with the nitroglycerin patches (in my dream, they were patches, not pills), and ended up licking them and getting the medicine into my own system. Not his.

I walked through the entire day haunted by the visions I had in the night. And I couldn’t find any amount of distance from them, or from my own family. The walls felt as if they were closing in on me. My sweet husband gave me space. He knew that my mood couldn’t be improved by anything he could do or say. After more than three years of marriage, he’s accurately assessed that my moods are like the sine curve, wildly shifting, but not at all erratic. He knows instinctively that what goes up, will come down. And if down, the upswing is bound to come soon.

The children were mostly oblivious to my foul mood. They were still on a birthday present induced high. They rushed through their schoolwork so that they could play with the toys that Daniel was given.  The focus of the day was a game that was a kind of simulated Exit room made up of cards, clues and odd objects. It kept them fascinated for hours.

After their schoolwork was done, I escaped to the hammock outside. The weather was the perfect mirror of my mood – windy and dry, shifting gusts rocked my hammock back and forth. I folded the extra fabric over my face, locking myself in like a caterpillar in a cocoon. I needed space away from my life, my responsibilities, the overwhelming constant NEED of my kids, my home, my chores, my husband.

I had needs. I have needs. My mind was full of turbulent thoughts…from the days before, from this day, from my night full of terrible dreams. I needed peace. I needed quiet. I needed to NOT be needed.

I came in from the hammock when Kasie texted me looking for dinner before her tutoring appointment. I had told her it would be ready and when she came down from studying, the kitchen was empty. I threw some chicken nuggets in the oven and got a simple dinner going. The rest of the night was a downhill descent into bedtime.

My head hit the pillow, heavy and ready for a peaceful sleep. I was afraid of what dreams may come, though, and it took a while to let go.

This morning, ready to begin day 35, I heard a calling to me, from somewhere inside my spirit. The place where peace and fulfillment reside within me. I took a devotional and my Bible into my prayer room and recharged for whatever day lies ahead. When I was done reading, I felt better than if I had spent six hours in the hammock outside. The turbulent waters of my mind have been set at peace, and my sine curve, as my husband would put it,  is on the upswing. For now.

I opened my eyes from my prayer and took a sip of coffee. My prayer room is a little closet under the stairs in our home. It’s just big enough for a chair and tiny table where my Bible can sit. One of the walls, with a high, angular ceiling, is painted with chalkboard paint. A place where everyone in the house comes to write their prayer requests. We erase the requests when they’ve been answered, and clip thank you notes to God on the wall. It’s a neverending parade of requests and thank you’s, but I hadn’t been in the room for several days. The business of life distracted me. But someone had been in the room. Messy handwriting filled the once black gaps between requests. Some scrawl so tiny and slanted, I couldn’t even make them out. Up at the top, I see a request written in writing I recognize at a little boy's messy print. How did he get up that high? Almost to the ceiling? And when did he write the request?

Lift Kasie high.

While I was busy pitying myself, thinking about my own feelings, my own despair, the limitlessness of the demands upon…myself…my kids were busy taking care of each other. Someone in my family was busy praying for Kasie. They were caring for each other, when I found that I needed to take a moment (or several moments) to care for myself.

And then I realized that maybe we’re learning something in this storm of pandemic and quarantine and social distancing. Maybe we’re learning some things as a family that I don’t want to unlearn when the world goes back to normal.

May we never forget to care for each other like we’re citizens of our own, tiny little world. When the communities open up, and they will, when my kids go back to school – and they will, when my husband returns to work – and he will, may we never forget that the foundation and structure of our own home, our own hearts – begins with our family.

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