Broken Places

This is the view from my recovery recliner – my view for the past month.

FullSizeRender (56)
NKOTB blanket circa 1987

It’s the best time of year here in Michigan and I thought for sure I would miss it.

I would miss my walks beneath the wooded canopy of Fumee Lake, calico leaves swooshing underfoot.

I would miss the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch, cornstalks rustling as kids dart in and out of rows.

I would miss cinnamon and nutmeg, spicy Chai, the flavors and smells of my autumn kitchen.

I’d miss it all because I’d be stuck in this stupid chair with these stupid crutches and this stupid aching hip.

Somehow, that’s not how it went at all. Somehow, I didn’t miss it.

I didn’t miss the swoosh of leaves because the boys carried in their bright, papery treasures by the handful, dropping them onto my blanketed lap.

I didn’t miss the orchard because Jen dropped off a jug of freshly-pressed apple cider. The pumpkin patch showed up too, when Kathy secretly decorated my front porch with cornstalks and two perfect pumpkins.

Jenny took me for a car ride to see a can’t-miss tree, and Kristen painted my toenails purple, the color of feathery asters along my favorite autumn trail.

Brittany came by with a carafe of her special Chai and we sipped together in the sunny living room. Jess surprised me with pumpkin muffins.

So many dear ones dropped off soups and stews, roasted meats and veggies, and baked goods with all the right spices.

The people who love me brought the season to me so I wouldn’t miss it at all. In fact, the season was even brighter and sweeter because of all their sunshine streaming through my front door.

Something else happened too, in the quiet weeks at home.

I learned to see.

When you stop moving, stop doing, at first you get a little crazy. One of the kids left a pair of underwear on the floor over there, and your grabber fell behind the chair, so you can’t pick up the undies.

Yvonne is dropping off supper, and there’s undies on the floor. Not clean ones, either. Can I get a grabber for my grabber, please?

But after a while, you stop seeing the underwear on the floor, and you notice the window. It’s smudged with fingerprints, but there are trees out there. Nice trees. Big trees. Old trees. You like the way they move in the wind, like waves are passing over them. Like your niece’s hair in the breeze of the backyard.

You watch them — the trees.

You watch them move, then rest.

You watch as the tips of their leaves are singed with yellow. Then the yellow spreads, warming the leaves.

You watch them burst into auburn flames, flames that roll from side to side, flames that dust the neighbor’s porch and the broad face of your garage with light.

You watch them burn bravely and brightly, waving, then draw in their fiery arms. Softening. Darkening. Scattering ocher leaves to the earth like drifting ash.

You’ve never seen autumn like this before.

Suddenly, you’re seeing all sorts of things you haven’t seen, really seen, before.

Your husband working to pick up as much slack as he can around the house, doing the things you usually do. Wiping the crumbs from the table. Carrying basket upon basket of laundry. Sitting at the table with the youngest over a page of dotted S’s and E’s.

Your children – you see them too. Dashing in and out of the front door. Leaves stuck to boots. Cups of cider. Plush hoodies. Pink cheeks and runny noses. You long to scoop them up onto your lap, to snuggle them in their beds at night, to wash their divided dishes and fold over the openings of their clean socks like you always do.

You long for things to be normal again. And they will be. Only you will be different, because you’ll know.

You’ll know what you have. You’ll know you are cherished. You’ll know how desperately you need your people and how grateful you will be to return their words and deeds when you are able.

You’ll know wholeness because of brokenness.

***

For all I know, the underwear are still on the living room floor. I started physical therapy this week, but it will be a long time before everything is in its place again. I’m not sure I even want it to be, now that I’ve seen the good things that come from the broken places. From letting people into my real house, letting them see the real me in my bathrobe with hair that hasn’t been washed since who-knows-when (but with an entire library of reading materials at arms’ reach, of course).

I don’t know if you’re up or down today, but if you’re down, let yourself be down. There’s much to see from the hollow. Ask for help. Let your people love you. My dear friend April (who knows down-and-out) never got out the door after a visit without a broom or a toilet brush touching her hands. Be broken, if you are. You won’t be broken forever.

And if you’re up, look around. Learn to see from that place, too. There is someone who needs you today. There is someone wishing for normal, wishing they could take out the trash or unload the dishwasher. Maybe you could breathe some life into them today, scatter love like bright autumn leaves into the dark corners of their living room.

Down or up, you’re there for a reason. Say yes to where you sit or stand. Yes to the teaching. Yes to the seeing.

Yes to the season.


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Come again!

❤ Stacy


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