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going home

Winter scene in rural Manitoba.  December 2012.
I took a break from writing a blog over Christmas.  To be honest, there was a lot going on but I wasn't sure how to write about it.  Going back to the place I grew up always presents a few challenges for me:  for the most part, I enjoy the vast beauty of the prairies and their crisp climate which conjure up vibrant memories of an uncomplicated and creative childhood, and I appreciate the precious family members and other friendly folks who still live there.  But my place of origin also has some trigger points for me and sometimes they can catch me off-guard.  This is really no different from any context which can transport us back to places where we were not at our best: places we have experienced tragedy, felt fear, been prone to anxiety, responded in anger, or lived through disappointment.  But sometimes childhood triggers can also be occasions when we realise that we are not the same person we used to be.

This was a particularly challenging holiday time in some ways.  Perhaps the most jarring moment was the morning after our big family gathering when I came upstairs from my bedroom and discovered my mom sprawled out on the floor where she had collapsed.  All kinds of thoughts can run through one's mind at a moment like that, and I was surprised that my frequent childhood companion, fear, was not present.  It seems that I really have put that old demon to rest, or more accurately, given it over to Someone much braver than I am.  I called 9-1-1 for the first time in my life, and while I was on the phone with a gentle-voiced woman who was telling me not to move my mother, I watched the spirited woman who had given birth to me get up off the floor and walk out of my line of sight.  We laughed about it later, this demonstration of feisty independence and "fend for yourself" pioneer mentality which is so much a part of my mother and many of her generation. 

A few more tense moments, a few trips to the hospital, and a few days of my mother recovering in a hospital bed from a nasty virus with some mysterious side effects and she is back at home feeling like herself again.  At times during that roller coaster week, I felt like a loving and responsible daughter. Many times I felt like I should be doing more and caring more, but for the most part, I was at peace because I knew that in the end, I was not in control of how things would turn out.  I tried not to endlessly speculate about what was wrong or guess what the prognosis would be (both a waste of time and a sign of needing to be in control).  I tried not to worry about how she was doing when I was not present (that's fear, plain and simple).  I tried not to let the image of her splayed on the floor become embedded in my mind (fixating on the worst instead of leaving breathing room for hope).  I prayed for her health, her healing, her life.  I told her I loved her.  I appreciated the gift of being in the same room with her without either of us saying anything, just breathing together.  I admired her stamina, sense of humour, and humility through it all.  And I was content.  Really content with every moment and all the complications, questions, or resolutions that came with it.  And for the first time, I saw how decisively I have walked away from fear and have made a home in trust. 

The place where I grew up is no longer my home; the place I live and work now is not my home, either.  My home, the place where I feel safe and most like myself is this place of trust and contentment which I now carry with me.  Yes, I am finally at home. 

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