… so I might cry.
My beloved maplestar returned home to Canada today, after a monthlong visit with me. It was the perfect month, full of active times and rest times, prolo sessions and recovery, road trips and a dinner party, times with my kids here and times when it was just the two of us, even a week when he was taking part in a conference and I was on travel for my job. And now it’s over.
Last night, the rector of my parish stopped by for a little over an hour for a talk about our plans for marrying next year. It was a very good talk, both about our individual stories, our story together, and the story of this month. Maplestar and I seem to be in a very healthy place, and while we both have some inner work to do – of course, there is always inner work to do! – we are doing well for ourselves and for each other. And we both know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what we have is real and good and forever. We both had noticed the coincidences of our meeting online and falling out of touch and meeting again, as well as the breadth of our shared and individual interests. We both had cared for, supported, and prayed each other through some really tough times and some really joyous times. We had come to the realization that God had brought us together, and that bond is precious and sacred to us. This was not an easy month. We definitely had some bumps in the road, but we hurdled those together, as partners. Even when we are in conflict, we are still we and not him and me – and I’ll be the first to admit that based on my prior relationship experience, I sometimes have a hard time recognizing when we’re even having a conflict!
The kids went home with their dad last night, after I’d said good-night to them and gone to bed under the influence of a cocktail of medications, and now they’re away on a trip to Texas to visit their aunt and uncle and baby cousin. The house feels so empty and quiet now. I’m here, and my beloved conure Trillian, and Her Majesty, the Queen of Drama, and the Lady Midnight, Empress of Everything, and the rascally little Esther Gabriel Kittenpants. But all I hear right now are the clicks of my keyboard, the hum of the cooling fan, the whoosh of the air conditioner.
I prayed Evening Prayer, using the Tallis Canon for the Phos Hilaron and my Anglican Chant Psalter for tonight’s psalms. St. Francis of Asisi said, when you sing, you pray twice, and he was definitely telling the truth. Somehow, even when you’re caught up in getting the words and the notes right, the prayer goes through you by a different path than when you read the words out loud, or even pray them silently. Last week while I was traveling, I re-started the discipline of praying the morning and evening offices each day. It is funny how I know I love them, need them, crave them… and then somehow or other, will fall out of the practice of praying them. Evening Prayer tends to fall by the wayside first, with all the busy-ness that comes after getting home from work, checking the mail and the messages, helping with homework, preparing and serving supper, tending to the beasties. It’s so very easy to put off that office until… oops! it’s bedtime now, and I forgot Evening Prayer! Even when I was unemployed and praying the fourfold daily office, there were plenty of days I wound up praying a combined Evening Prayer and Compline, in the quiet after the rest of the family had gone to bed.
I’m hurting tonight, too. Because I was taking maplestar to the airport around 12:30 today, and I wanted and needed to be fully alert for that, I held off on my morning meds until I got back home from the airport. My evening meds will include the prescribed double dose of darvocet, because the pain has been building all afternoon. Stress based? Partially, I’m sure. And I continue to be amazed by the amount of heat my body puts off when it’s hurting. You could run a hand over my skin and tell exactly where the pain is worst by the intensity of the heat. I made my physical therapy appointment, and I looked around some more and made some phone calls to try to find a local support group for people who struggle with chronic pain. I found a couple, but the phone numbers and email addresses associated with them seem to be dead now. Meanwhile, I left messages with my former therapist, with my daughter’s counselor, and with the rector at my parish. If I come up empty-handed, I’ll try to get a group started that meets at my parish, since it is conveniently located right next to a hospital. It would be a great ministry for the church, and a great outreach to the community.
I signed up to take Hebrew I “for personal enrichment” tonight, at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I know a lady who has earned an MDiv from them, by distance-learning and classroom education in Massachusetts, and recommended them for flexibility and support. If this semester course goes well, if I’m comfortable with the school and the faculty, if I do okay with the discipline of a mostly self-paced distance class, then I will sign up for Hebrew II (and most likely Greek I and II, maybe their Old Testament and New Testament survey courses) for credit. Their North Carolina campus offers a certificate in biblical studies, which is not a full Master’s degree, but would be a nice thing to work for and to have. I’ve also moved from the general to the specific in my ongoing work of listening for God’s voice and discerning what I’m hearing. I’ll have more to say on that subject in the future, but prayers for a listening heart and a wise, discerning mind would definitely be welcome.
Well, I’ve kept myself mostly occupied for almost six hours now. Soon enough, I’ll be out of things I can do to distract myself from the quietness in the house, from the feelings of emptiness and isolation. The first night after maplestar and I have visited and parted is always the hardest, and then somehow we manage to pick up our routines again. His full cycle will start up in a couple weeks again; with the new school year, he’ll have piano students, and church choir, and accompanying work. I’ll have my daughter back in a week or so, and time with both kids as they begin their school year as well. I’ll have physical therapy, and maybe chronic pain support group meetings. As always, I have church, and soon I’ll have Sunday school discussion group facilitation. There will be plenty of stuff to fill up the time… but not tonight. Tonight, I have only myself, my pets, my quiet house, my pain.
There’s nothing wrong with the house being quiet and empty – there are always times when I wish everybody else would just go away and leave me alone. Of course, the problem with that is, sometimes, you get that wish, and then you have to live with it.
Good night, my friends.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work
and weep this night,
and give your angels charge
over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary;
bless the dying;
soothe the suffering;
pity the afflicted;
shield the joyous,
and all for your love’s sake.