Monday, November 22, 2010

Bear Territory

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." So he went and did according to the word of the Lord... The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

~1 Kings 17:2-7

It's finally snowing today. It's about time for the bears in our area to retire to a cozy cave for the winter. Yesterday we did not even think much about them during our family outing--a grouse hunting trip. Rather, as we moved single file I brought up the rear, and was captured by the sight of our daughter, who, like a whisper of ghostly fog, wafted quickly and silently over, under, and through all manner of obstacles as they lay strung like matchsticks and tangled Christmas lights across our woodland path. What an incredible little waif! And our son, more solid in step and experienced at carrying a shotgun, intrigued me with his already mature skill at barrel! Even without looking he is always aware of where it's at, lacing it through any manner of obstacle without ever pointing it at anything he shouldn't!

Except for the loud call of a raven and occasional sighting of crows, we saw no birds, bagged nothing for our stew pot or grill...

On several levels, food is on my mind a lot these days. For one thing, our diet has been in transition for the past two years, ever since we chose to change our lifestyle in the hope that I could avoid surgery. Now I spend a lot of time educating and re-educating myself--and those in my sphere of influence--about nutrition. And even MORE time preparing even FRESHER meals than before. And then we finally joined the unemployment statistics last week when my husband was laid off for what appears to be an extended period, and with loss of income the challenge of procuring fresh organic or local wild food is even more challenging.

But all of these issues took a backseat to the one that suddenly popped up again this morning, after 17 or so years... Does it bother any other woman on the face of this planet to be absent when another woman provides her husband with a meal??? I remember when my mother used to graciously invite temporary bachelors over to join our family for a meal while their wives were away for a week. It just seemed like friendly hospitality then, like something right out of the Waltons. But for some reason, I am very territorial about Bear Bait's stomach! It's been my concern ever since we first started dating. Even though I liked the woman who was my colleague and his supervisor back then, I felt like scratching her eyes out and stomping on 'em whenever she brought him muffins to start the day!

As Bear Bait left this morning to go spend the day installing his friend's water heater, visions of the woman of that house offering my husband lunch made my stomach churn. He insisted he didn't need to pack a lunch from home because he was too full to care about a midday meal, but I knew she'd talk him into eating so I insisted that he take at least his high quality nutrition shake and a piece of fresh organic fruit or veggies. Thankfully he acquiesced gracefully.

If he's still unemployed in a couple months, perhaps I'll be forced to rethink my position. Perhaps I'll be more willing to farm him out during mealtime, just so he doesn't starve. But for now, Mama Bear retains dominion, scanty though the larder is...

For my hope is in Him. He will provide today, as He did in Elijah's time.

So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ”

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.

~1 Kings 17:12-16

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ending Well

For almost three years now I've been the primary caretaker for my husband's mother. She's been trying to convalesce with us, contributing to our family and challenging/expanding my knowledge of both allopathic and naturopathic health care. Last week her body took a critical turn and she is now in end-of-life stage.

Blessed, beautiful friends take time to email their condolences. These notes often include compassionate apologies for our suffering. The thing is, God is walking through this with us, and we are not suffering. As we stand by N's ICU bedside and work to comfort her and interpret her needs and wants for the nurses as best we can (she is not a typical patient in that she can barely talk or respond to questions now, so ideally she needs someone who knows her standing by 24/7), it is exhausting and sad, but also somehow satisfying. It is the same feeling that caring for her for the past three years has often produced. There is something "right" about returning the gift of care that someone else has provided for you in the past.

What feels odd to me is the lifting of responsibility. Suddenly, she can never live with us again. Suddenly, I no longer have a 9am deadline to poach an organic egg, double-toast a piece of her favorite English muffin bread, or section half a grapefruit. I feel like a hermit crab, about to shed my exoskeleton.

But the race is not completely over. Today I have to wake my children and head to the hospital. Today is the day we find out what comes next. I hope we will all end well...