Remembering Again to Think Small
Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed in my shoes? I’m leaving a home I love for two months in France—which I also love. Besides being faced with so very much to complete, arrange, provide and plan for, I’m struggling with all the emotions triggered by separation. This doesn’t mean that I am not grateful for my life. I know this is a lovely problem to face. But still, I’m struggling. I almost wept on Monday saying goodbye to my friend-for-years-and-years, Sandy, after our weekly walk, which I’ll miss dearly. And I’m not going to allow my sadness about leaving my grandchildren to creep into this post.
So, I might be struggling with a lovely problem, but I’m still struggling. So far this morning, I’ve remembered to cancel the newspapers for the time we’ll be away; checked my bank accounts to be certain we’ll have the funds we need, left a message for the box office of the theatre where we’ve subscribed for years, because we’ll miss a performance this fall; and ordered my medications from Kaiser.
Yesterday was my last Wednesday with Amelie and Poppy. Every Wednesday for the past six years, I’ve picked one, then both up, to spend the afternoon together and prepare dinner for the family. I look forward to this time alone with “my girls” all week long.
Tuesdays evenings I spend with our grandson Lucien, who will turn four while we are away. Stephen picks him up from preschool/daycare in the afternoon, and I join the two of them when I finish work. Lately, we’ve been playing marbles together, a game called “shoot shoot the marble,” that Lucien invented.
My head is so full of checklists and sadnesses that I couldn’t even come up with a suggestion for a lunch place with my friend Eva. I had to ask Stephen where we should eat. It was at that moment, that I realized I needed to shift my thinking to small. We have five more very full days before we leave, and if I don’t save myself, my brain and heart will be ripped to shreds by next week.
The moment I received my own suggestion, I thought of Titanic, my favorite at the horse rescue where I spend two half days a week while I’m in France. While the other volunteers muck out stalls, pitch hay, and work on small construction projects, I pet and brush horses and cut carrots. It’s a fulfilling gig for somebody who was once—and for a very long time–terrified of horses.
When I first began volunteering, Titanic quickly became my favorite, so I began spending a lot of time with him from across the stall wall. Each time I entered the barn, he’d toss his head in recognition, then trot up to me, and reach his head over the wall, ready for me to offer him a slice or five of carrot. Once he’d munched for a minute, he’d stretch his neck and lightly butt my chest with his head. I’d laugh and throw my arms around his neck, and he’d stop bucking for a moment. Then, start up again the minute I let go.
Yes, yes, thinking of Titanic brings a smile to my face. I can see his noble, roan head held high, his amber eye looking straight at me. And suddenly, I find myself looking forward to seeing him next week. I will arrive at the horse rescue, “Au Bonheur des Chevaux,” grab a few carrot pieces, and head to the barn. I will stop in front of Titanic’s stall, he will pull up from munching hay, and he will toss his head in acknowledgment. And within seconds, I will be throwing my arms around his neck.