After a full week of focusing on so many details to help with my move, I said ‘see you later'(never say goodbye) to people who had given every bit of their energy and strength to unpack, arrange my things and offer their emotional support. I miss them terribly but know that their time with me had to end. They have returned to their own homes and I have begun the process of making this new place – my home.
It has been a long time since I have moved to a new town. I think about all of the people who I met along the way while living in Greenville NC for 20 years. They helped shape who I am today and I know they will always be a part of me. Even though we are far from one another, we will stay connected – that is the way of friendships.
Tonight I write as Lilly sleeps next to me. No kennel will confine her right now. She is by my side with an alert eye to the changes around us. We belong to one another and in a place filled with new faces and routines, this bond brings comfort and strength.
The stress of establishing ourselves is evident. Lilly always loses her appetite when there is change of any kind. I feel easily overwhelmed as I meet incoming assistants and begin training for my care. I feel easily overwhelmed as I continue to look for pieces of my life still packed or stacked in undiscovered places throughout my apartment. I pray for patience as this transition takes place at a pace set by the length of each day and the schedule of those who are with me to help.
Through it all I am grateful for the support and structure of the community around me. This retirement community is beautiful – out every window there is a view of trees and mountains. The food is great and I am never alone – but I have moved into a retirement community. At the age of 54 this was not what I anticipated.
This was, and still is, a big decision. Each day I talk myself through moments of challenge and, in turn, give thanks for the chance to make such a move. This community has welcomed both Lilly and I. Even though the work of resettling can only be done by me, I know it would have been more challenging without the support and resources available in this place.
Why the fishbowl? The image speaks to my feelings. Like that fish, my leap to make this move is a stretch and risky. The new bowl is larger and full of possibilities. Taking this leap has been an act of faith. An act of faith filled with unanswered questions and unexpected feelings.
And tomorrow is a new day…
After weeks of packing and several days of moving, unpacking and beginning the process to become familiar with my new home, I sit tonight happy to take a deep breath surrounded by mountains, warm blankets and Lilly (make no mistake – she has worked hard to herd, comfort and stay alert throughout this transition).
My friends are still working to set up my apartment as much as they can before leaving. They have been so dedicated and willing. We have laughed a lot and shared some tears. It will be difficult to say goodbye.
As evening closes – I am reminded that we are in the days of Lent. with so many distractions I have only been able to live these days grateful for the prayerful devotion shared by others. Tonight I hear this hymn and remember that the sharing of inspired devotion has been passed through many generations.
For a moment I am immersed in our spiritual journey… In thanksgiving.
Glory to thee my God this night
For all the blessings of the light
Keep me, O keep me, King of Kings
Beneath thine own almighty wings
Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear son
The I’ll that I this day have done
That with the world, myself and thee
I e’er I sleep at peace may be
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above angelic host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
For several years this song has held a special place in my heart. It speaks of memories – a time past yet ever bright. Many have sung this beautiful song – Eva Cassidy weaves the lyrics through an amazing melody.
May it offer a gentle moment on this Valentine Day —
FIELDS OF GOLD
For nine years I have greeted each day with my companion, Lilly, by my side. Trained to be an assist dog, she has retrieved multiple objects dropped or out of my reach – from pens to book, from coat hangers to telephones – Lilly has heard the call for these and many other items and made her way from floor to my lap or arms, her attention focused on where I am and my care.
These days Lilly seldom leaves my sight. Her intuition is sharp – she knows we are in another time of transition. Boxes have begun to appear, and as before, she knows that means change is in the air. It is no secret to friends and family, from the beginning my retirement has filled me with mixed emotions. There are moments in a day when I have to stop – to regroup – to grieve. Overwhelmed with the change and the current preparation to move, I decided long ago – when I needed a “crying break” I would take it.
A few days ago it was time for one of those ‘breaks’. With all of the resources she could find, Lilly tended to my sadness. From cleaning my hands to putting her head in my lap, she tried everything to ‘settle’ me. Finally after a whimper or two of her own, she went to the door and barked. As my assistant entered, Lilly led her to me and stood by my side. She watched – when I began to calm she stretched out beside me with a sigh.
As I continue to re-adjust to my newer limitations, Lilly carries hope. She brings delight in each day and maintains a routine that helps me refocus when I am feeling most scattered. With only a few weeks before she and I move to a new home, she reminds me time and again that I am not alone. She will remain by my side waiting to nudge me when ‘we’ need a break from the work of sorting and packing. She knows to keep track of the important things – a walk in the fresh air or the evening game of ball – after all, (she says with her wise and playful eyes) life is an adventure and so much lies ahead for us. Her presence in my life remains a delight, bringing comfort when no words need be spoken.
I end this day in gratitude for my companion, Lilly.