Joy and forgiveness on a French holiday

I cannot fathom that I am truly in France today…going to a local market.  The air is warm on my face, the sun brightens the day, and I am full of wonder at where this day will take us.  We have traveled far, and are spending our time at my cousin’s lovely home in Thouars.image image It is a quaint town south of Paris, and I have yearned to come and visit Janette in her home abroad many many times.  Her home is filled with artistic touches, really filled with her.  She has an exquisite eye for detail, a wonderful and talented artist,  and she takes great care in all that she does, and has a wonderful knack for the details of life.  Her home is a subtle mix of stone walls, terra cotta floors, to the most lovely narrow wooden staircase, which incidentally she runs up and down both flights as if it were a “cake walk.”I can barely walk these stairs very gingerly by the way.. image I have the privilege of being enveloped in a cozy cream and Indian red striped bed linens, complete with soft and squishy pillows, wonderfully aged wooden floors, and natural linen tie back drapes which hang elegantly onto the floor.  What a terrific place of relaxation.  I am so comfortable , and oh so grateful to be here in this place of rest.  We have enjoyed delicious wine tasting, toured an exquisite chateau, and taken some wonderful walks about the town. This morning after we had ventured to the local market, we came back to this picturesque spot, and enjoyed a salad with goat cheese, beets, black olives, and avocado.  It was finished off with a light vinegrette which made the taste buds simply tingle.  We paired it with a slightly sweet local rose from our trip to the winery.  Such a luxury, and of course, so enjoyable to spend time with my sister in law, Cay, and Janette.  image image We have had some great conversations, and genuinely enjoyed girl talks, and sharing life stories and experiences together.image image It never ceases to amaze me the joy that can be found with sharing your life with others.  Telling of stories, remembering, listening, and sharing friendship together.  Really one of life’s’ simple and dramatic pleasures.  We have laughed until we felt like we couldn’t stand it.  We have also cried…mourned things in our lives that were out of our control.  Where there has been life…..there certainly will be a mingling of emotions, of joy and pain..hurts from days gone by, and the realization that the only way of truly moving past some of these hurtles involves the art of forgiveness…it seems so simple to forgive..but it is not really so I do believe.  It takes a conscious effort…concentration, and the willingness to let our pasts go…to open up some windows of our soul..to let the light in…image I am wondering if the only way to sweep out the darkness, the ache..is to illuminate that which has broken us.  We must dare to acknowledge that we are fallible…we are raw..exposed, and secretly we want to made whole, but sometimes we simply don’t know where to begin.  I was discussing with my travel comrades that I believe that it’s often, only when we Mothers, wives, friends venture out on our own, that our true contemplation can begin.  We are so caught up, and rightly so, with caring for our families, our loved ones, that some where along life’s’ way, we may have eclipsed our true sense of self…who are we now when we are alone?  I have long felt that my grief opens up,and bursts forth full throttle when I go away…it can be a very scary thing to step outside and dare to have a look at what is inside of ourself, what is existing in our hearts…is it stuffed down regret…pain of the “what ifs”….wishing for a “do over”…or how could I have missed that?… I am not sure…All I know is that the emotions rise to the surface….and threaten to overtake you, and choke you like a great wave of cold water.  It is frightening to open your heart into the light, and to forgive yourself.imageIt takes great courage because it is scary stuff.

I am struggling with being far from home, across the pond from my family.  I love my family deeply and fully, they are my heart, my very existence.  I don’t want to be, if they are not.  When I learn that my daughter is struggling and her caregiver is feeling fragile with how to bring her relief, how to ease her discomfort..I am helpless…I have guilt.. How could I, as a caring Mother have  gone so far away..abandoned her, and them sometimes I feel…what Mother does this?…I think…I have such guilt..such remorse..I can’t be everything..enough to everyone that I want to be…and this drives me friggin nuts!  It plays over and over in my mind, robbing me of sleep.  I am helpless..I am far away…how can I dare to enjoy myself when someone that I love is hurt….I realize that I must offer myself forgiveness…simple and true.  I know that unless I can forgive myself  for these many things, how can a I possibly hope to forgive others?.. It is impossible…I hate hate hate being vulnerable, I think most of  us do.  Asking for help really makes me cringe…wow..how full of myself am I?  What makes me even think I could do this “incredible journey” on my own?

My son Logan needed to bring some medications over to where my daughter was staying.  He did this immediately when asked, with no sense of discomfort, but with love…his sibling needed his help, and he did it.  I am told that she looked at him with a “sad lip,” a little endearing pout that she does, and I know this look..it breaks your heart apart…it opens it up…you want to break free.  I am sure this was a simple, but very hard task for him.  It is very difficult for them to see her suffer..I know this..I feel it.  The two of them, my wonderful boys, Zach and Logan,  have been shipmates to their sister on this vessel of a family voyage that we are on.  I have no doubt that there are many complex emotions that they have  felt.  They have had to forgive themselves for being whole..for being “normal,” and able.  That is a very big thing.  This is not easy…there is such guilt I think at just living, and doing when someone that you love cannot join in with you. It is a series that began when they were only six and three years old, and for better or for worse, it will continue on throughout their lives.  The wonder of the why did they get to be “ok”, and their sister did not?  These questions can drive a person crazy, unless the wonder of it all, and the letting go of ourselves can be achieved.  We think we have some sort of handle, some sort of control…but often we do not.  The only thing in these life situations that we can do..is to accept the thing that could  destroy us…look at it fully in the eye, and be content.  Sometimes our choices are taken from us, are out of our hands…we have to deal with the “fall out” of these things.  How will we respond?  In this we have choice.  Will I let these life situations that are very real crush me, or will I simply acknowledge that while I don’t like them, and wouldn’t necessarily choose them, they in fact chose me….

 

 

As I lay awake under my cozy eiderdown, I pray…I beseech…I humbly ask my Father in heaven to ease our suffering, to make my girl whole, please dear Lord be near to our broken hearts..heal us…and don’t forget us.  We need forgiveness…and to be loved..to feel your presence in our lives..give us strength for this day…and please oh please, the courage to forgive…of these things I pray…Amen…

 

 


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