Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ten Reasons The Revenant Has Made Me a More Thankful Person

I am a huge fan of lists, as you can probably tell by perusing some of my former posts.  And what better thing to do than write a list when I am procrastinating preparing for an upcoming speaking engagement?  If you haven’t seen the recently released drama/thriller, The Revenant, this entry will mean little to you, but if you have watched the movie that my husband chose for our Valentine’s date last week (note to husbands: grizzly, bloody movies where people are shot through with arrows and guns and hacked dead with small axes will not win you the favorite valentine award), then you will be able to relate to my observations readily.

The Revenant Has Made Me a More Thankful Person because…

1. I didn’t get mauled to near-death by a bear.
Every day, when I am trying to take care of my very naughty puppy, I get scratches, cuts, and bruises from his teeth, his claws, or because he has dragged me down the snowy hill while he gags from pulling hard on his choke collar.  But every day, as I examine my injuries, I am thankful that I have not been, as of yet, attacked by a very large bear in the forest when alone.

2. If I ever do get attacked by a bear in the forest, my friends wouldn’t have to sew up my gaping wounds with a needle and thread in below zero temps.
I am thankful that, nowadays, when someone gets nearly-eaten by a wild animal, they can go to an actual heated hospital where an actual doctor will tend to their wounds and spiffy them up with actual stitches that are meant for skin.  I am also very thankful for injections that deaden my nerves for a bit so I don’t have to feel so much pain after my bear attack.

3. My traveling buddies didn’t leave me for dead when I was hurt on the trail.
One time when I was backpacking with my family in Isle Royale, MI, I slipped on a rock while telling the children about a recent SpongeBob episode.  My ankle swelled to the size of a grapefruit and I was unable to walk or put any weight upon it, but my devoted kin helped me gently to our campsite, where we took a zero (a no-travel day).  The next day, they also helped me wrap it with duct tape so I could hike the remaining 25 miles out on foot instead of pulling me out on a homemade stretcher made of canvas and sticks.

4.  My warmest coat doesn’t weigh 100 pounds when wet.
On these recent cold Iowa winter days, I have been thankful many times over for my lightweight 800 fill goose down coat.  Even when wet (if, for instance, I fell in the frozen river while being chased by Indians), it barely weighs a pound.  Although it doesn’t communicate victory and dominance like Mr. Glass’ thick fur coat, I’m okay with that since I didn’t have to wrestle with a bear to get it.

5.  I don’t have to cauterize my own throat wound with gunpowder and fire.
If I happened to be mauled by a bear while alone in the forest, and that bear decided to cut through my esophagus, even if I couldn’t produce noise, I could readily text my husband on my cell phone and he could come and get me and take me to an actual heated hospital where they would use actual surgical instruments to fix my throat and no fire would be involved.  Also, maybe my vocal cords would heal better than Hugh Glass’ did so I wouldn’t have that breathy, raspy thing going on.

6.  I don’t have to sleep in a dead horse to stay warm.
Each night when I go to bed and snuggle into my flannel sheets, I am thankful that I didn’t have to ride my horse off a cliff, and then remove it’s innards so I could have warm night of sleep.  I am also thankful for showers.

7.  I don’t have to eat raw bison liver to stay alive.
Some nights, when I am having trouble thinking of what to fix for supper and I have a bad attitude about trying to come up with meals all of the time, I think back to The Revenant and Mr. Glass and I thank God that I don’t have to eat very fresh, steaming hot, raw bison liver and then I am happy about  fixing tuna melts and corn chips.

8.  I don’t have to sleep in a teepee in a snowstorm.
There have been times when I have been out in the forest and the weather has turned bad.  But during these times, I have quickly set up our waterproof tent in a sheltered area and waited out the storm mostly with ease.  During these unexpected outdoor events, I have neither had to cut down saplings nor be hanged by my enemies in order to create a windblock.

9.  Scalping is no longer an issue.
Although, I’m pretty sure my scalp wouldn’t fetch a very impressive sum of money, even on my worst hair days, I’m glad I’m not looking over my shoulder every time I am in the forest alone because I am afraid that I might lose my head.

10. I don’t have to try so hard.

I’ll admit it, Mr. Glass’ efforts were pretty heroic, but I’m really not into pulling myself 100 miles across icy terrain in the winter with a broken leg, fractured pelvis, and a smashed throat while Indians are chasing me.  I also don’t like cold water. Or bears. Or pulling arrows out of my skin.  Or eating raw liver.  Or not having mittens.  And since I am not nearly as tough as a fur trapper in the 1800’s, I would have just given up when the bear attacked me and gladly met Jesus in Heaven.   

Friday, February 12, 2016

China Farewell

I wrote this post on the eve of my son's departure to China, where he plans to live, with his wife, Jessica, for a very long time.  I hesitated to publish it in my immediate sentimental state because sometimes, when I write out my sadness, it is all sobbing and tears.  

Now, nearly two weeks removed, I feel I have distanced myself enough from the emotions so I can share my initial feelings of desperation without making you all feel nauseous.  

And just like that, they're gone.  I am trying to have an upbeat attitude about the whole thing and not be overly emotional.  But I can’t really talk about it either, because I am pretty fragile and the torrent of feeling may come rushing out at any moment.  So I have been keeping my mouth shut for fear of my heart flowing out and drenching everyone in my sappy mother-thought. 

But, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to write it all down. That way, you can move out of the deluge if it is too much.  Or you can take it in bite-size pieces if you’d rather not drown in sentimentality. Anyway, I am feeling a loss that I can’t quite express and it reminds me somewhat of dropping my kids off at college, but in a more intense and final way.  I’m trying to pretend that he is still living his charmed life in Iowa City with his sweet bride Jessica, but in reality I know this isn’t true and I know that right now he is on a plane headed to a new land that is completely foreign to me.  I am trying my hardest to be excited about the opportunities that await them there—the adventure and exoticness of their new home—but I find myself thinking of myself and of my world and the changes that are happening and I am wondering if that is okay.  Parenting involves a lot of losing.  I am bad at losing. So here’s my attempt at poetically processing my sadness…

Heart Afloat

No one told me when I had my perfect baby that I would have to give him up

I thought he was mine to keep.

But I was wrong.
This boy I raised is not really mine;
I don’t get to keep him forever.
is only
for Heaven.

Things on this earth are only on loan.

I didn’t know it would be like this;
how my heart would resist releasing my boy;  
how much I would have to trust my Father to do His best
for my
precious one.

I was surprised at my utter helplessness

when I couldn’t stop the clock;
when time would not stand still.
I have never truly had control. 
just thought
I did.

It’s the illusion that creates the heartache,

but memories sustain the soul
that hungers for wholeness.
And hope for a sweet reunion
keeps it
in the storm.

Because surrendering your children so many times

is like taking little pieces of your heart and
setting them
to sail
on the sea.