APRIL: So from now until September, I go on living … and healing … and waiting.
MAY: Healing. Shoulder still feels so strange. Out of place. The bones don’t line up right. Can’t pick up a teapot. Physiotherapist switches from massage to electro-shock therapy. You should see a neurologist. Muscle wastage. Shoulder blade slipping to the left. Neurologist agrees – likely some nerve damage during the second surgery. You should see a neurophysiologist. Get poked, prodded, and shocked some more. I watch the screen as a line bounces with each jolt. Then it doesn’t. Yes – damage to the axillary and radial nerves. Probably not permanent though. Keep doing physio. In the meantime, school: concerts, exams, grades, narratives, graduation, holiday plans, classroom clean-out, goodbyes to friends and students who won’t return, shopping, cleaning, and …
JUNE: Pack for six weeks in the States. Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Sewing machine? Check. Unfinished baby blanket? Check. Oh yeah, and clothes. I like to travel light. Really, I do. Seventeen hours in a plane. Land in Indiana. Play with nieces and nephews. Get ready for a long road trip. Five days is enough get over jet-lag, right? Also just enough to catch a doozy of a cold from a baby. Start driving to Iowa with a box of tissue on the passenger seat and Emergen-C in my water bottle. Arrive at my cousins’ six hours later with two boxes worth of tissue on the floor and multiple empty bottles strewn across the car.
June is the Northern Loop: central Iowa to southern Minnesota to northern Minnesota. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandma. Lots of chats and walks, local food and micro brews, board games and shopping trips, and a little intro to lacrosse. (FYI: originally a Native American game!) Onward to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Camping on Lake Superior with friends. Sleeping on the ground, forest sounds, bugs, bugs, bugs, and daylight past bedtime. Fancy long-drops, long hikes, and river kayaking. I can kayak again! My shoulder is healing. Head down to northern Michigan. Clean up in time for a heat wave. Drive back to Indiana before the Fourth.
JULY: more driving. But first, fireworks. Switch cars. Now for the Southern Loop. Ten hours to North Carolina is the longest segment yet. More friends and a little more camping. (Quick rant: if all you really want to do is watch TV, why do you go camping? Don’t bring your screens and speakers to the woods and ruin a night’s sleep in nature for others. Just stay home! Rant over.) Mountain-living reconnaissance: to build or not to build? That is not the question. WHAT to build and HOW? Those are the questions. Onward to South Carolina. Reconnect briefly with old friends before the family gathering in Georgia. And then, oh how they gathered! Come from all the far-flung corners: the sister from California with her brood; the cousin with his family from Ethiopia; the parents even made it back from Congo malaria-free, with no ebola quarantine to stop them. And of course, I was there. Thirty-eight (out of a possible forty-three) of us together at the same time, sixteen of which were under the age of nine. Organized chaos? Yes. Beautiful, exhausting, uplifting, chaotic life at its fullest.
Now for the final push. Ten hours straight back to Indiana. A little more family, a little repacking, return the car and fly to California. Did the heat seriously follow me to SoCal? Sunny days, sticky sleep. Sidewalk chalk and park play. Reading books and building planes and choo-choo trains. Evening swims and movie nights. Only a week. Another cold? Fight, fight! And rest. Fly back to Indiana. Three days left. There are still dinners to host, friends to meet, kids to take backyard camping, a baby blanket to quilt, shopping to do, and bags to pack. Then: nineteen hours in a plane and once again, the world is downside up.
AUGUST: back to school. But first, sleeeeep. Second, physio! My neck started to lock up sometime in the middle of July. Can I just say, physiotherapy is my favorite. Cold days, but not as cold as I expected. Dry nights, and every bit as dry as I feared. Bloody-nose mornings, cracked lips, flaky skin, static shock everywhere. Welcome to Joburg in August. No time to miss the summer though. Back to work: teacher meetings, classroom set up, lesson plans, and early rehearsals. “Hello’s” all around — to teachers and students and parents. There are new arrivals to meet and old friends to see. A moment of silence while we grieve a student suicide. And time keeps flowing. Conduct auditions for the high school musical. Begin rehearsals. Start planning for the upcoming festivals. Attend a teacher workshop. Go to three music events. Bowl with friends. Who knew bowling could make you sore!? And finally, head out of town for a church retreat.
SEPTEMBER: go on living … and waiting. Here comes the six-month mark. Trees are blooming and birds are returning. Spring means cleaning! Also, gardening and baking and (finally) writing. A fresh start. Nine more days until my neck ultrasound.
I do not hear the whirlwind, only the whisper within it. My heart is full of thanks.