Memorial Day weekend has come to a close, and with it two 4-day weekends in a row off for me. The garden is partially planted, I got runs and walks in, and the kids rooms are super clean. We’ve also had some massive quakes in our life – the adoption we expected isn’t happening, and we’re shutting the doors for a bit, as heartbreaking as that is. And some health issues in our home have made things more complex, short term though they seem to be.
It’s been an eventful couple of years here at Sithean, and I’m a little tired of the persistent upheaval. A little boring would be nice for a while.
Also so my feet hurt.
Despite that, everything is green and in bloom, the baby chicks have grown into energetic teenagers, the yards of compost are being spread, ever so slowly, on the desperately nutrient-poor soil in the yard. In other words, even on our worst days, it’s pretty damn good here.
Even on our first days here, which were more challenging than I can describe, we found beauty and hope. And 2 very different guides to help us through it all.
Today I took my son to his pediatric rheumatologist for the 2nd time in a month. My son has polyarticulate psoriatic juvenile arthritis, although it is currently probably maybe in remission. Polyarticulate = multiple joints and psoriatic = amongst other things, a gratitude from me that it’s not rheumatoid, which attacks the organs and sometimes sight. It’s an immune disorder that came on on suddenly, shortly after his 4th birthday after a fall that had impact on his right knee. From there it spread from one joint to another, until a few weeks later he could barely walk, just as we were preparing a 1500 mile move to here.
Right after we got there, we found his doctor, and it felt like a small miracle when Dr. L asked what part of South Florida we had moved from, and we learned he had grown up literal blocks from where we had lived. For over 6 years he’s carefully managed my son’s disease, even shepherding it to remission, for however a short time. In our life, Dr. L is nothing short of a rock star. When we showed up in his exam room my son was on steroids, miserable and because he was 4, frustrated and unable to process what he was going through or what he needed. Dr. L gave us a road map and hope that it could be managed.
Today when we showed up to check on the knee, it was supposed to be another doctor. Dr. L was booked. But in he walked. “I am his doctor, I’m the one who sees him, that’s always the plan” was his explanation. In other words, this is my patient, and I’m invested. Finding Dr. L was one of the early signs that we had made the right decision to move here.
While Dr. L gave us a path to a future without crippling pain, there was one other….person..that gave us what we needed when we got here, cold, a little lost, not sure of our next steps, and with a budget so tight you could hear it squeak with both of our kids trying to find their way. My son, especially was having a tough time. Oldest at least was returning to friends and the familiar. He had left everything he knew for this place, having been too small to remember it from before we had left.
But in walked Murphy.
Murphy, who for the short 5 months he lived after we arrived, became his best friend.
Murphy lived next door with our neighbors, who also became friends and anchors. Murphy was their dog. And Murphy and my son became fast friends. Murphy would come looking for him each morning and the two would go off, as boys and dogs do, roaming around our yard and his. Without equivocation, I can say that he and Murphy loved one another. When he announced that Murphy was his best friend, I was hardly surprised.
If ever there was a dog that was almost human, Murphy was it.
Murphy died right before the first Easter after we came here, just as every day we discovered new green things and flowers on our property, just as the white lilacs started to bloom. He had already raised a little boy who was then a teenager and now a man, next door, and my son was his last little boy. He did his job, giving my son something constant to hold on to. Their joy was something to behold, it really was. I always knew he was safe out wandering with Murphy.
I’m not a dog person. But this was quite a dog.
The last couple of years have been kind of stressful. I’m trying to learn to step back, to breathe, to invest in ensuring that we have time to enjoy our place in the world, to work in the garden, to fulfill the promise of sanctuary this place has always had for me, and somehow it got lost in all the work and things that needed to be done and things that weren’t getting done. I’m trying to step back and remember why we came here, to this forever place, this drafty old gorgeous, closet-less spot and why we stayed, enduring a giant pine tree falling on the house, every year refining the garden we built, and appreciating the love that came to live here when Eli did, filling an empty spot we didn’t even know we had.
And part of that memory is paying homage to what makes home the nicest word there is, the place that bring us joy, safety and hope. We can’t go back to the start, and I don’t think I would if I could. But I have to remember what makes this place magic, and it’s not just the flowers and the sunsets. As I step back and breathe and appreciate my life just as it is, I am grateful every day to live here and share life with my family.
Here’s to you, Dr. L.
And here’s to Murphy. Thank you.