Standing at the register, watching as each item in the basket brings my total higher. Each item searched out to fit into the small budget that must last until the end of the month and give ultimate variety to our diets. My heart racing with each purchase, again I find myself stressed over every cent in my account. I promised myself many years ago to never be in this place again. I have always been conscience of shopping and keeping kitchen costs low. “A kitchen can make or break a man”, Daddy drummed into my head.
When Mother died, I knew that I had to save money everywhere I could. The first couple of times I made red beans and fried potatoes for Dad he didn’t eat well. He too had come to the point in his life that he thought he had left the years of fried potatoes and red beans behind. So, I began canning everything I could. We had peaches, pears, and apricots in the yard. I tried to plant a garden with some success but not alot. I purchased bottle baby calves to raise and I bought chickens when the price of eggs got so high. It gave us the food and nutrition that we needed and the animals were my therapy. It put the cuts of beef on the table that he had earned in a lifetime of hard work. I had plenty of eggs to bake pies and cakes for him and have eggs for breakfast too. I learned to make homemade pasta and homemade biscuits. I made breads and rolls of all kinds.
He always thought that my heartbreak when the bobcat killed my chickens came from my love for them. I guess there was truth there, I did love them but there was much more to the tears that burned down my cheeks. It was as if the whole episode defined my life. I had worked hard, pampering each baby chick to the age that they could finally be moved to the coop I had built. The first morning after I had put them in their new pen, I went out to feed and water them. One by one, they made their way up the corner perch and onto my arms and shoulders. As I stood in the early morning sun, covered in young, white chickens, a smile crossed my face and I began to laugh. I must have looked like the bird lady. Like many other times throughout my life, the morning after I gathered my first egg, I arrived at the coop with one rooster standing on the only leg he had left and barely alive. I sat in the corner of their pen holding him until he took his last breath looking out across what looked like a chicken battlefield. They were one more thing in life that I could not protect. That I had failed. I had not only failed to save them, but I had failed again in taking care of my family.
How many times have I held the hand of someone that I loved as they drew their last breath only to be left to clean up the mess or hold everyone else while they grieved through the destruction and pain of death?
Helpless that morning as the sun came up over the horizon. The quietness so loud it was almost physical. I went and found the shovel and buried each and every chicken. Cleaning up the destruction left by death.
Yesterday was three months since I held Daddy in the last moments before his soul became free of a body riddled by time and disease. My heart broke into a million pieces. My world changed once again forever. Three months later and I stand once more alone, bewildered and picking up the pieces. Looking for a job in a place with very few when times are booming, in a world of economic destruction and starting from scratch again. It is as if every time I find a place of happiness in life, destruction takes it away. Dad told me once that he loved each of us kids dearly. That he worried about us all. He said that of the three of us, I was the one that he worried about the least. Sitting at the dinner table the other night, John made the same statement. He said if he died tomorrow the one thing that he could be at peace about was that I was strong enough, independent enough, and hard headed enough that I would be fine. I am all those things, but I am not so sure about me being fine. Every person that leaves my life takes with them a chunk of my very soul. I am left wondering if I could hace done more, cared more, or loved more. Did I do everything in my power to make their lives better? I am left empty and hallow not feeling anything. Going through the motions of life, helping everyone else cope but not feeling. The out of absolutely no where, I hurt so much that I am physically ill.
So, today, here I stand back in a place that I swore to myself that I would never return to. What was it that I missed learning the first time? To be selfish? To ignore those that I love so much? To be irresponsible? To be hard and hateful? I can never be those things, that is not who I am or who I will ever be. There has to be a purpose for me in this world, there has to be something that I am passionate about. There has to be a healing place. I know that I am incredibly loving, extremely sensitive, greatly spiritual, and very much into healing through love and nature. Now what is the direction that I am supposed to take to get myself past this place in life??