I’ve been in a season of solitude. Which, if you have known me for any amount of time prior to three years ago, you know this is beyond odd for me. I have a reputation for being social. For being the host. For being the consummate extrovert. Energized by the masses. Thriving amid clatter, chatter and chaos.
About four years ago things began to change. Mom was diagnosed with breast and then bone cancer. My life became consumed with trying to help meet her needs and get in as much quality time with her as I could. We moved her to Kentucky to be closer to us. I organized a surprise Christmas gathering – flying in my sister and nieces without her knowing – assuming (accurately) that it would be her last Christmas with us. Much of my time off was spent making the eight-hour round trip drive to Lexington and doing what I could to encourage her health and healing… which she was determined to sabotage. I was still traveling full time with World Vision/Women of Faith and things were incredibly hectic and I literally felt myself stumbling through life. Please don’t read any of that as selfless or saintly. I have to be honest and tell you that there was a lot of resentment lining the contents of my heart during that season.
This all was coming at a time when I was trying to get off the road. As much as I loved my job at World Vision and the community /friends I found at Women of Faith… I was done. Tired. Exhausted. Stick-a-fork-in-me-done. I had been voraciously job searching – looking for a place I could be just as passionate about – and a place that I could drive to and not have to fly to get there. I wanted to be home, desperately.
Then thankfully, I found Siloam. I attempted to transition off the road… still having to work some Women of Faith dates on weekends while starting my new “land” job (as friends called it). I started Siloam in December of 2010 (the year of mom’s last Christmas with us) but continued on with my weekend traveling schedule through the Spring of 2011. I was pulling roughly 75 hour work weeks (not including travel). All the while trying to stay connected with mom and her needs. I don’t think that makes my resentments justified but perhaps understandable. My free time was valuable… and I wanted it all to myself. Then summer came and I thought there would be a reprieve. But mom’s health took a downward turn and we found out her cancer had progressed to stage four when she fell and broke her hip.
It was a crazy whirlwind of events… I was up for a promotion at Siloam and World Vision called to ask if I could do 10 more dates through Fall to help them out of a jam. And my mom was getting worse – and we were looking at moving her to hospice in Virginia to be near my sister. I was making trips whenever I could to clean out her apartment and visit. The day her best friend in Kentucky was putting her in a car to take her to Virginia… was also the day I was interviewing for the promotion at work. In between interviews, I was answering calls like crazy. Mom had fallen in a roadside bathroom and was being rushed to a local emergency room somewhere between Lexington and Richmond. She was incoherent and couldn’t sign release papers so I was giving verbal and faxed permission every 30 minutes when some new issue came up. Finally she was back on the road and headed east. It was madness.
So I was hording my down-time like a pack rat getting ready for winter. I was no longer hosting parties or my famous porch nights. I stopped attending church and declined invites to pretty much all social gatherings. I just didn’t have it in me to politely give updates on mom, my job, anything really. I just wanted to sit on my couch, enjoy a glass of wine and take in my surroundings – my home – the place I longed to be for the last seven years of full-time traveling. I was finally here.
Mom passed away September 15, 2011. Five days after she arrived in Virginia.
Honestly? I was relieved for her. She was in so much pain. To the point of delirium most days. I took some time off of work (both jobs) to mourn… and honestly, I foolishly thought my recovery time would be quicker. Not to sound callus but we had been preparing for this for awhile. And part of me thought that I would just dive right back into building and fostering community among those I’d been ignoring for so long. Part of me felt ready to engage again. But apparently it was a smaller part of me than the part that wanted to stay on the couch, nurse a glass of red along with my wounds… and recoil.
My time on the road finally ended. I allowed myself a lot of “me” time. It felt awkward. A bit like I was on a first date. Getting to know myself again without all the distractions and busy-ness was a little daunting. Being alone with myself was both frightening and exhilarating.
I took a week off at Christmas and went to Virginia. We did a family-only memorial for mom on Christmas Day. The closure we all needed. When I got back to Nashville I tried to start the “re-entry process” into community. But it didn’t work. I reserved all my energy for work and then would collapse on weekends and evenings. It quickly became evident that I needed more time.
I have a bad habit of going the all-or-nothing route… go big or go home I like to say. Every time I would try to re-enter into my church community – I would sign up for this or that – thinking that would force commitment and dedication. All it did was force me to be creative with my excuses for cancelling. Yes, I probably owe an apology to many of you… as I may not have always been forthright in my reasons for backing out. Yea – I said it.
I’m not 100% sure I’m 100% ready to give it my all out there again. Maybe I never will. I have come to enjoy my home and the little world I’ve created for myself. I have Louie, an 18lb beast of a cat that I rescued and adore and he keeps me company and busy on Instagram. Most weekend mornings I can be found curled up in the corner of my comfy couch as I hug a hot mug… look around my house and let out a deep sigh of contentment.
And for now, I’m okay with it.