This evening I changed our bed and thought, as I shook the colors of autumn leaves across the mattress, I love flannel sheets.
I'm about caught up on the laundry. We had hot water last week but, without power, we were the only clean things around the house. Cold, damp towels draped themselves all over the bathroom and hallway, and clothes worn all day and then slept in piled up in corners. Fleece socks migrated all over the house.
In a couple of weeks, I will be speaking to a small group at a Suicide Survivors Day. As I've been pondering what I might say ("Tell them how you survived." "I have no idea."), the thought that occurred to me was, I love flannel sheets.
I haven't really enjoyed much of anything for four years. I delighted in my daughter's two graduations, college and master's programs, and cried each time as she walked forward to receive her diploma ~ but that was because I knew what the cost had been, and what extraordinary triumphs those moments were. My little girl, so brilliant and so very brave. I was in awe at my friend's ordination last night, watching the Holy Spirit sparkle through the sanctuary and the crowd afterward, several of whom played a role in my own path to ordination. My friend, so determined and so accomplished.
But simple enjoyment has been elusive.
I think I will tell them: Don't underestimate the trauma. There is nothing else like it. You will stagger through a shattered world for years. That doesn't mean that you can't do things ~ as some people might think, because they haven't had to. It doesn't mean that you can't learn and work and care for others. You can, and you might as well, because if you don't you'll be sorry later.
("How can I help others?" a widowed friend asked me yesterday. "I can't, not when I can't accept my own situation." "Of course you can!" I snapped. Meaning, don't bother waiting until you're all healed and ready, because you won't ever be that.)
Just don't underestimate how difficult it is. You don't have to tell. No one will believe you anyway. But know it yourself, so you remember to give yourself time and space when you need them.
And someday you may be able to shake soft bedding out in November and say to yourself, I love flannel sheets.