Lessons from The Hospital

What a long week it was.

It was alarming but not life-altering for my family when the shutdown began in March. When the smoke billowed into the San Joaquin/Central Valley, that changed our lives for the time being. We had just bunked the four older children in one room to create a nursery for the littlest. The school desks moved to the living room as a temporary solution.

Life is a constant juggling act when there is a houseful of bodies.

The children could not go outside. When one napped, they must be quiet in the living room or dining room as others strove to complete their work. There was little place to play.

I got caught up in the crankiness and frustration of everyone in the house. What could we do? It was hazardous outside, airnow.gov told me. 

But this was getting out of hand. 

The days shortened. The nights lengthened. 

We moved the van out of the garage, took the outside patio furniture and play furniture from storage, put them them in the garage and made a play place. A playhouse with a custom border of Costco size diaper boxes and clothes waiting to be grown into.

This was my best moment coping.

There were plenty worse.

As this strange year of 2020 begins its fall season, I continually asked myself how my past experiences of suffering are helping me to face the reality of the present moment. No answer.

Surely, I must be more patient, more trusting, more adaptable, more loving.

Surely, I must have the secret answer to suffering.

Surely, the wisdom of embracing the present moment, which I learned so well beside my son in the hospital or visiting my daughter’s grave, would have some impact on me.

I cannot say that it did, other than that I remember a time when I did it, and I know when things get difficult there is a way to do it again.

Beyond that, I go in green and must learn a new way in new circumstances. The bustle of a house full of children itching to go outside and bickering until they have space to get away from each other is miles away from the quiet of a hospital room and solitary walks around a strange city.

In this case, it was a house, a room with a view of a garden I ached to tend, where my coping skills lie, and little lives to manage and persons to educate. Though the days were taxing I appreciated the way school filled our days with routine and occupation.

I remember that lesson from the hospital room.

On the weekend, with little to do, I put on a movie. Then my husband came home from work. I put on another movie. Sometimes you just do what you have to do to get through as pleasantly as possible. I remember that lesson from the hospital room.

For a few nights, I stress ate, I admit it. Nachos and ice cream worked well. But I also know the toll this diet will take on my body. I remember both those lessons from the hospital room.

I made space to stretch though I never quite got to exercising. 

We bounded outside as soon as the air was moderate or good, which happened but little the week of this writing. We took full advantage of the opportunity and relished in it. I remember that lesson from the hospital room.

It seems the past experiences shape us more than we realize.

When we take the time to pause, reflect, see what we have done well or not well, and make the connections, only then do we see. Otherwise it may feel like we are floundering now like we floundered then. I’m not entirely sure what good the reflection does, except to say that we got through it then, we can get through it now, and maybe pick up some new tools along the way.

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