Ministry, Relationships

In the Garret

I have a feeling of deep sadness today.

I’ve been sitting in my garret office, with the sunshine coming in the window. Last week I had a group in for a meeting and really spruced up the place, which was looking pretty pitiful and dusty. Molly chewed some sticks in here before Christmas, and I hadn’t bothered to vacuum the “crumbs.” My recycle bin was overflowing and my trash can needed emptying. It felt good to do those things.

The atmosphere has been greatly improved by the addition of colorful fabrics on two surfaces that were previously bare. I brought in a couple of extra chairs from elsewhere in the building, and they stayed. I scavenged a basket for my desk, for the pile of brochures and catalogs I meant to get around to perusing someday.

I also went through all the piles and recycled accordingly.

I began thinking about the texts for this week, went back and looked at my sermon from three years ago, took a peek at Fred Craddock’s thoughts on the matter and the support material from Seasons of the Spirit.

In the midst of this I heard from #1 Son via IM. He has parts in two plays this semester and is excited about both of them.

Yesterday was wonderful. Our service was deep and spirited. I finally noticed that our pledges for Missions more than doubled from last year’s amount. In the afternoon I gave the talk at the service of the new church meeting in our sanctuary, complete with Power Point. In between and after I did four loads of laundry and actually put almost all of it away (save the load in the dryer over night).

Why am I sitting here feeling so sad?

It’s partly because Pure Luck is going away. He leaves Saturday and will be gone for about two months. It’s the reality of his line of work. When he’s home, he’s really home and not working. When he is working, he is gone. What’s different this time is that he will be away both farther and longer than he has since we have known each other.

At this moment we don’t know where he will be staying, whether his cell phone will work, whether he’ll find a place with Internet—everything is unsettled, as it always is at this point in the process.

Yesterday during church, when we were offering our silent prayers, I prayed for help not to be a baby about his departure and his absence.

Yet here I am moping in my office.

I’m also feeling deeply sad about a friendship gone awry through the choices of the other person.

And I have taken on a wider church commitment that is weighty, to put it mildly.

I remind myself that one of the things that helped last time Pure Luck was away was the time I spent with the dogs. They spend most of their time with him when he is at home; in his absence they will come with me to the office more often, or ride around with me when I have appointments. Having to get outside and breathe fresh air while walking them had a positive impact on me, although it made my schedule tighter than ever.

Do I feel this way every time, so sad I don’t know what to do with myself?

When #2 Son was little, I used to swap childcare with a friend. Her daughter had serious separation anxiety. My friend would sing a little song: “My mommy comes back, she always come back, she always comes back to get me. My mommy comes back, she always comes back, she never would forget me!”

I’m like that little friend. It’s not just the physical leave-taking that hurts. I hurt for the loss of a friend. And although it is not about abandonment, exactly, I ache as I realize that the nature of some responsibilities leaves me isolated.

I’m feeling all these things as I ponder in my garret office on a Monday afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll have a day full of appointments and my thinking and feeling will be happening in the car, to the sound of NPR and Air America in the background. I’ll be on the cell checking in with one person and another. I’ll be listening and responding to others. But for today I’m sitting with the deep feelings.

What does it mean to not “be a baby” about these things that genuinely trouble me? I guess it means to acknowledge that they are difficult or disillusioning or disappointing, but also to cope with the circumstances in a way that is faithful to my marriage, my self and my God. Even in the sadness, I am thankful for the husband I will miss; perhaps loving someone who has to go away but always comes back is a gift. I am thankful that there are other women in my life who are real friends; perhaps the loss of this friendship will help me to know the difference better next time. And I am thankful for the difficult new work I am doing; it came as an answer to prayer and is helping me understand better how rightly arduous it can be to do God’s work.

I think I’ll go out and get a cup of coffee now.

15 thoughts on “In the Garret”

  1. Oh, Songbird, I am sorry for your sadness about the one departure that is permanent and the other that is temporary. I, too, have a hard time seeing the boundary between acknowledging feelings and allowing myself to wallow in them. I hope that writing this was a first step toward clarity on that issue for you.

  2. Oh sweetie….you have just been full of feelings these last few days haven’t you? Why not allow yourself to be a bit of a baby? What is wrong with that. You have already worked through it all but for the emotions. I am so glad that you have him and that he has you. Imagine how he must feel leaving you…the most beautiful songbird of all.
    I want a love like that.

  3. I often wonder, why is it so terrible to “be a baby” now and then? Not all the time or about everything of course, but sometimes it is a needed thing to do. I give you permission as needed.

  4. Can I make a suggestion for tomorrow? Stick with Air America and avoid NPR–it’s running the Judiciary Committee hearings on domestic surveillance. I suspect they will only depress you further.
    Hope you feel better soon!

  5. I’m sorry about the impending travel and loss of a friend…the lead-up to departures is always worse for me than the actual leaving.
    But it’s good to be aware of what’s making you feel. that’s good. Even if it’s sad.

  6. ((((Songbird))))
    That would be hard. I think it’s okay to be a baby sometimes, though I don’t like being a baby myself. It’s a lesson in itself.

  7. The biggest reason for trying not to be a baby is that it makes Pure Luck feel guilty about going. That’s why I am trying not to do it (although not very successfully thus far).
    On the bright side, he seems to have found a place to stay, which means he may be able to leave early Sunday instead of Saturday.
    Baby or not, I appreciate the hugs and words of encouragement.

  8. {{{{Songbird}}}}
    We, your bloggy (and real life) friends, promise to be here for you while Pure Luck is gone, to the best of our abilities.
    I feel this way whenever I’m threatened with the shadow of loss, however temporary the loss may be. And I, too, call it “being a baby” or something similar. But I think it has more to do with a profoundly adult understanding of the fleetingness of our days…

  9. (((songbird)))
    I can relate to all of this. It’s easy (easier!) when I’m the one going away though – go figure.
    “I’m also feeling deeply sad about a friendship gone awry through the choices of the other person.”
    This resonated a lot and am praying for you both.
    A a very good friend and I parted ways because of their choice back in May – I’m only now starting to recover. (awful isn’t it) I have rejection /abadonment issues that go so deep and would just love to be healed … but God’s ways aren’t always ours – sometimes not even close. For me letting go is often like giving up – and I HATE IT!
    love to you xx

  10. It’s a myth that you always have to be a steel magnolia. (I don’t know what the correct phrase is for New Englanders!)
    It’s perfectly normal to be sad that your husband will be gone for 2 months and that a friendship ended. Acknowledging the sadness helps you cope with it well.

  11. I read this (and the post for today) and wish I could get on the phone and talk to you for hours. Many blessings to you in these days.

  12. It’s not “being a baby” to be sad in this situation. You have been through these separations before, so you know what you are facing, and you know that this time it will be longer. Pure Luck might feel a bit guilty if you express what you feel, but he might get a bit worried if you bury it and pretend that it’s just hunky dory for him to be away for two months. 🙂 Big hugs to all of you!

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