Things are quiet around here. I mean really, really quiet. I haven't been inspired to write much, even though I think I have a novel noodling around in my head somewhere, and while January is pretty packed with speaking engagements, December isn't. The fact that I discovered 7 seasons of "The Good Wife" on Amazon Prime probably hasn't helped.
Advent is a time of waiting, as is pregnancy, and it hasn't escaped my notice that I'm experiencing both at the same time. During my first two pregnancies I was busy-busy. I think that helped keep me in great physical and emotional shape throughout, not just focused on what was happening on the inside. With Jack, I taught high school until just hours before he was born. Pregnant with Margaret, I had an active toddler to chase around, and with free childcare at church activities, I took part in pretty much every church exercise class, Bible Study, and committee I could sign up for. Busy.
This time is different. Tim and Margaret are gone all day. The doggies just follow me around and collapse into sleep wherever I park myself in the house. My body doesn't feel the same as it did 17 or 15 years ago. Things are swollen. Private things. Other things are sore. Exercise seems too monumental to attempt. Most of this has to do with age, but some of it likely has to do with the cocooning I've experienced in the 4 years since Jack died. While Tim and my sister channeled their grief into running, I channeled mine into sitting, writing, meeting with the bereaved, and drinking a lot of tea, as if conserving energy for something. Was it this? Rather than keeping me healthy, however, I found that the grief settled in my shoulders and other parts of my body, making me prone to aches, illness, and injury. Today, I'm trying to decide whether I'm having a flare-up of shingles or whether it's just the permanent nerve damage I got the last time I had them. Regardless, my body is saying, REST, Anna, and wait. So the dogs and Julianna Marguiles and I do just that.
I did all of my shopping online, and I've never been much of a baker, so I don't have reams of checklists to follow right now, unless I'm forgetting something, which is likely true. This makes me feel a bit off kilter with all of the busyness around me, as if it is one more way I don't fit in.
Advent is a time of expectation, a virgin's growing belly, and now this 46 year old non-virgin's as well. Sometimes it's a time of numbers and counting and waiting. Margaret counts down the days until she can open her presents. We anticipate our last Christmas with 3 members physically present: Anna, Tim, and Margaret, and are proud and a little shocked by the way we have handled the 4, soon to be 5 that we've faced since Sept 2011. Our 2 trees glisten with lights and hundreds of handmade ornaments of dough and beads that now bring us joy rather than pain. For the first time ever, we hang lights outside, a tribute to our dear friend Brian who died 1 week ago at the incredibly young age of 39, and who loved Advent and Christmas. Tim tracks his hours at work, trying to figure out how to be present with us during the holidays while still getting his job done. I watch the pounds pile up on the scale, and follow the size of the baby according to websites, going from a grape, to a tangerine, an avocado, and then a banana. Is he1 lb yet? Baby Donaldson just swims, and flips and dives, oblivious to all of this, or perhaps somehow wiser than the rest of us put together.
And Jack? His wait is over. He is in the presence of holiness every minute of every day. And what is a day to him? A millisecond? His work and mission are unfettered by billable hours and busyness, outward expectations, and binge-watching TV. Partisan politics and war and violence make no sense to him as his new lens is one of LOVE, only LOVE.
I don't know when my time with come, although I know I've already lived more years than Jack and Brian. There is much for us to do here, to try to make the world we are living in more loving, kinder, and more just.
But there is also much to anticipate, as Jack and Brian already know, and that it is worth longing for.