community

from away and living in a strange new land.

Well, the plan has gone awry and we went and bought a house here in Maine! We went back and forth about going back to Texas and all the discussions that could be had. In the end, we chose to stay here and enjoy small farm life for just a bit longer. Honestly, I didn’t want to be that far away from Aaron during his first couple of years of college.
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No way around it, life is different here. There are views that will make your heart sing and bring tears to your eyes. There are folks you meet that are just the salt of the earth. It’s a place where time slows down and what to wear is not the most pressing question… although, let’s be real, I want to look cute when I’m in the barn. This is a land where you don’t take your faith for granted and you are so thankful that you have a place of worship to call home and you can stare in awe at His creation and revel in the cotton candy skies.
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But in one specific way, it’s unlike any place I’ve ever lived. All of our adult lives, we have lived in towns that almost no one is from. New, growing suburbs where just about everyone you meet is a transplant from somewhere else. That’s not the case here. About 98% of the people that I have met are from here. Generations linking them to a far off time. It’s not strange to have roads named after your family here. Lives steeped in history and tradition. I love the thought of that.
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As much as I love that sentiment, as much as I wonder if our family tree will be rooted here, it can be a lonely existence for people who are from away. Weird as it may sound, it can get dull with just us all of the time. I am so used to being surrounded by friends and family that these past 2 years almost feel like living on an island. We haven’t lived in our own home these last couple of years, so I haven’t felt very comfortable inviting people over. I am thankful for my son’s involvement with his high school running team. That community has been such a blessing and truly helped our family transition. I’m not trying to rant or throw myself a pity party of one. I’m really reflecting on the importance of community. Deep, intimate, authentic community. This time in Maine has taught some tough, but essential life lessons and I am thankful. I pray that I always keep an open eye for someone who needs a friend and an extra seat at the dinner table.

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Goodbye Grandpa

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A poem by my sweet cousin Joanna Dickman. She didn’t leave anything left to be said. I thank her for this beautiful gift.

And Out In

 

1.

I stood behind my grandfather

in a chattering of freshly soul-fed friends

and clasped my hands around his middle,

my face resting on the worn blazer over his shoulder blade.

He turned his head to the side

spoke to me

and I told him I love you in his ear.

I felt his breath fill my arms,

the labor of a life

in this practiced pattern in

and out in

and out in

and out.

I swallowed,

and knew some day would come.

 

2.

Years later,

when the news comes that

we only have him till July,

I scoff.

He is good stock.

He is made of oatmeal

and pickle vinegar

and beet juice

and the last of all the vegetables

and the marrow from every bone

and the meat from every lobster leg

and always milk never coffee,

always water never soda.

When they tell me his heart is tired,

I scoff.

He is made of farm land

of waking up with the sun

of working all day

of finishing high school early

of a degree in engineering

of being an engineer.

He is made of numbers and figuring

of problem solving,

of the mathematics that hold

a thing together to reach the moon,

and a family together to reach retirement.

He is made of sails

and tides and ocean

of latitude and longitude

of the wind in his hair,

of a wheel in his hands,

of charted and uncharted waters,

of charted and uncharted lands.

When they tell me this could be it,

this could be the last season, the last time,

I scoff.

He is one liners and deep smiles,

side-hug apologies

and five-word wisdom.

He is the pillar,

the anchor, the bulwark

the tide, the moon

the mountain.

He is made of real things.

They don’t make men like this anymore.

And no July,

no August,

no September,

no month, no date, no year.

None of them are enough to take him from us

to take the breath from his lungs

to make some day arrive.

 

3.

And then,

Dear God,

Someday arrived.

September

It came as a quake,

something that is known

but never expected.

So loud

you can’t hear over your own breathing

So rough

you fight everything that touches you.

So harsh

it keeps men talking at your back all night,

and puts forks in your eyes.

So scary

it pulls your family to your side.

 

The world was held together

by the continuous beeping of monitors,

by tape and gauze,

by sheer force of will–

the will of magnetic north,

of hurricanes and tornadoes,

of planetary rotation

of gravity.

 

And then the wind gave out

and out in

and out

and out.

The compass started spinning.

The planet stopped turning.

Gravity let go.

And everything became a struggle.

When to wake up?

How to get out of bed?

Where to go?

 

And the world missed it.

People went about their lives,

answering phones,

and standing in lines,

cutting people off on the road,

flicking through radio stations,

making their coffee.

People everywhere continued,

going about their lives as if nothing had happened.

 

But the world is less now.

The spine of our family has been ripped out.

True north is gone.

The sun only rises out of habit,

and it’s getting later every day.