One day at a time

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I have been in the process of learning a very valuable lesson. Well, several of them, but one I need to focus on. 

Sometimes you cannot see the forest for the trees. 

That has been me for the past few months. I have been lost and continue to be, yet I am in familiar surroundings. 

It's the strangest feeling in the entire world. 

But this is what I know right now: I cannot see the forest for the trees, no matter how hard I have been trying. And trust me, I've been trying so hard, I can barely sleep, I can barely focus. 

And now, the Red Winged Blackbirds have returned with their song, and a message:

Stop looking. 

I need to stop looking for the path through and for now, just stand still.

While I say that, I am in no way, physically standing still. In fact I haven't stopped moving in the past months and things have not stopped happening. But I need to live in this in between time, accept it, and allow things to happen as they will.

When it's time, as has already happened, the right things will make themselves known. 

But grief, fear, they are terrible enemies of patience and kindness. I have tried writing several times. I want to write, I want to share this part of my journey, and whatever happens next. Words come to me but nothing comes easy. And sometimes, the words that come are too hard to write. Too hard to say. 

In October I said to myself, "if I can make it until March." March is spring. March just seemed liked a goal. Well, here I am. Here is the farm. We have made it this far. 

The past few weeks made up for our very good winter. We got feet of snow during one snowfall, we had an ice storm and I didn't have power for 4 days, we got some cold, but then the weather broke quickly. Of course it's still early, and anything could happen, but I know for sure we are over the worst of it. On this farm, usually the road is not passable by the 15th of March and that is holding true - although it's drier than most years. 

My mind is and has been overloaded with bills, fees, taxes, deadlines... Survival. I am doing it. I am getting through it. I am doing a better job than I ever could have expected... how, I really wonder sometimes. I try not to dwell on the pain, and I have no time to grieve. I have little time to actually think and process things, which is also why I have not been writing... words fail me often.

I had begun to worry that my heart had closed. I have been so busy being strong. I have changed in ways that I thought happened over night but now I see they did not. They have been happening for a very long time.

Giving up has never been an option to me. In anything. But during that snow storm, plowing, getting the tractor stuck, not having the proper tools for the first time ever because of a series of bad events, dealing with the cold, snow, heaps of problems that should not have been heaps of problems... part of me wanted to scream, cry, give up. But that part was so tiny, so easily silenced by the rest of me that said...

Stop. Focus now. Listen.

Keep going, find a solution, don't quit, don't give in, don't give up. Which is what I did. What I am doing every single day.

I have always been stubborn. Determined. Strong willed. But I had limitations.

This was Kevin. He taught me this. He taught me what chain to use and where to hook it, how to pull the tractor out of the ditch. He taught me to problem solve, not to break under pressure, not to fold, cry, give in. He taught me to always, no matter what.... Always find the way.

At one point, alone in the snow, standing next to the tractor, I found myself starring down the lane. The snow was falling, and I was covered in it. I was tired.

I realized in that odd moment starring into the scene unfolding around me; the snow falling, this land I've called home for so long, this land that we shared, loved together... Him and this land have made me the woman I am right now in this moment. The woman I wanted to become when I met him.

I had told him I was going to live in the bush, have animals, do things for myself. He said "that's wonderful, you just need a young man to do that with." I told him that was ridiculous and that I was going to do it by myself. He laughed at me. But I meant it. And that sparked our friendship.

He was not an easy teacher. He was often very unkind in his ways, aggressive. He was in the military, and he didn't sweeten things up or go gentle. Sometimes it hurt. I didn't understand it. I learned to as time went on together, but now... Now I see it all so clearly.

He toughened me up in ways I had no idea he was toughening me up. Never mind the countless things he taught me. He told me many times this was his gift to me. My gift to him he said, was my gentle spirit, my kindness. I found it so conflicting, so confusing that his gift to me could be to toughen me up, make me harder, when my gift to him was to make him softer.

But in that moment, I saw that gift in front of me on that snow covered lane like a box with a giant red bow sitting in front of me.

We have had enough firewood. I parted with a lot of animals in January, my sheep. They went to a wonderful home but my heart is heavy. My turkeys went with them. I sold my chickens for the winter. I have been living under a lot of uncertainty, especially with my health. I was in the hospital again and have made progress but it's not stable. It's not where I want nor need to be yet.

Sometimes I wonder, will I ever be able to be soft again? To feel so safe with someone? To let my guard down? I miss him every single day, and I am grateful and constantly reminded of how my strengths are coming through.

But my protector is gone, my confidant. And when I remember that, it shakes me. It doesn't topple me now, I don't fall down.

A couple of weeks ago, it was a clear night. The sky was full of sparkling stars. The moon was waxing and bright, illuminating the forest like a lantern. I stepped outside my house, from one quiet world, into another. The forest in February is a type of quiet that always amazes me. You forget how something can be so alive, yet so quiet, at the same time. Waiting.

So quiet, just before it gets ready to wake up and come back to life....

I walked down the steps and heard the snow crunching beneath my boots. As I walked away from my house, I looked back at it. I had left one light on inside, a small one, which barely illuminated the front room. Through the kitchen window I could see my dried herbs hanging on strings across the kitchen. Smoke was rising from the chimney.

Our peaceful little house. This house that he built, that has sheltered me, and provided. Where so much life has been lived in the past decade.

I turned away and started walking, the moon my lantern. The sound of my foot steps my only company.

I wondered. Was he with me now?

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Of course he was, although I wish I could hold his hand in mine.

As I walked, tears ran down my cheeks. I could not help it, although I tried to stop them.

He had tried to convince me and himself this past summer that it was time to leave and I refused. This forest has been our home, our entire lives. It brought us together.

As I walked by maple trees we tapped together, and would be getting ready to right now, more tears came.

I see him standing by the trees, showing me how to tap them, how to put the spile in without damaging the tree.

When he would talk to me about leaving, about a new adventure, it all sounded so very good. But I would tell him, we cannot leave yet.

I know when the Timberdoodle will return to the creek outside the house and start his meeping in April. I wait for it every single year.

I know when the morel mushrooms will sprout, and where.

I know the exact day the Whip-poor-will will return to sing outside our bedroom window and keep us up all night long because he is so incessant and so loud.

We cannot leave yet I would say... what about the fire flies? And what about the bull frogs? How will I sleep if they cannot sing me to sleep in the evenings?

As I reach the turtle pond, a small pond where we let go all the baby painted turtles we saved one year after their nest was dug up... I stopped.

I turned to look at the moon and sighed.

I love this land and this forest. It grounds me, it feeds me. It is my home, and it has been my home. It was his home, and his heart.

I find myself looking for him in the night, in the forest. Maybe he'll walk out from behind the trees, and I'll see him again. Maybe just for a second.

But I know it doesn't work that way.

And I know I'll find the way, whatever that may be. I know it will come.

I find myself lost between worlds at this moment. The past, and the future. The present is a very hazy place, somewhere I exist in and see through a veil. I can see it. I know very well what's happening, and I am managing it. But in order to do so without loosing myself completely, I've had to separate myself, put most of myself away. I do stupid things constantly because I cannot focus. I have to triple check everything I do, I don't see people or things... I just see through them... like I am walking in a world of ghosts.

Or maybe, I am the ghost.

I feel a little bit like I am existing in two worlds. A real one, and a shadow world. A great part of me, sleeps and waits to be awakened.

In the end, I will overcome this. I will be stronger for it, and I will never once regret a single thing I did, or day I spent living this dream. I realize despite the stress and grief of the present, I am beyond fortunate. I am so grateful for every single chance I have taken in life to allow me to get here and to have lived this past decade at Our Forest Haven, with a partner whom I did everything with, with so many animals who enriched my life. I don't regret a thing, and I have amazingly, despite the challenges, lived the life I dreamed of. 

And there will be new dreams, new adventures when the time is right.

There will be, My Forest Haven. 


farm buddy said…
I am very glad to hear that you are staying at your beautiful farm. I wish the very best for you.
Dee said…
So glad to hear from you again. I looked for our comments daily. You are a strong woman and Kevin would be and is proud of you.
I was wondering last week how things are going for you. Grief and healing are never easy and I do feel your pain, your sadness in your posts. It takes time, you will get better with your grief, this I know. Take each day as it comes, be it with sadness or heartfelt peace. One foot in front of the other. May your journey with Your Forest Haven continue, peacefully and easily. I wish you nothing but joy and healing.
The JR said…
I'm so sorry for you having to go through this. Gosh, I can't even think about that happening to me and losing my husband.

Please take care, prayers sent.

Your post is so beautiful. And I cannot even count the amount of times that I have read, and re-read it.
Your wise.. your honest, your heart talks.
12Paws said…
Your post reminded me of the Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.
Mark Kimel said…
"I feel a little bit like I am existing in two worlds. A real one, and a shadow
Ya know luckybunny, in a way we do exist in two worlds, this physical world and our spiritual world. Most people get so caught up in their worldly things that they loose touch of our spiritual world in which our God, His Son and Holy Spirit live. You are not alone for Kevin with Jesus along his side are watching closely over you. Also know my friend that you have a world of prayers going up for you for strength and patience. One day soon I feel in the near future, all who have accepted our Lord as our savior will meet together with those who have since departed. Peace and comfort be with you and hang in girl.
We never know how strong we are until we need the strength. I was thinking about you just the other day and I am glad to hear that you are managing. I hope you find your way into your forest haven soon.
Mark Kimel said…
A little something to at to my first comment that may be some help.....

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, the Lord spread his wings and caught his people, he carried them on his pinions. Deuteronomy 32:11 (NASB)

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

O God, when we think we can fly like eagles we come crashing back to earth; when we trust in the ways of the world, the battle increases. We race to your side for comfort and care. Help us rise to new heights of faith, hope, and love. Amen.
jaz@octoberfarm said…
donna...i think kevin was in your life for a very specific reason. he showed you how to live the life you dreamed of living and now you will be able to do it yourself. he was an angel!
k said…
It's so good to read your words again. Your strength is undeniable, and your words are inspiring. Wishing you many happy days in your forest haven.
Anonymous said…
I have been following you for a few years. I am the daughter of Jody "Cobblestone Corner & Grandma's Bisquits". I have been looking once a week to see if you have commented. I am glad to hear from you again. Please know that you have people thinking about you daily, people you don't even know. We hope you find peace & joy in these moments. I am sorry to hear about your sheep and turkeys but hope you are happy with where they are now. Thinking of you... Angie
New reader who was sent here by one of my own blog readers. I lost my husband 9 months ago, and the things you have beautifully written here resonate with me so much. I wish you nothing but peace and love, because I know how hard it is.
Sandra said…
Thinking of you and sending you peace and love and light.

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