Every now and then, you realize time is moving along. You do with that knowledge whatever you want. You appreciate what is right in front of you. You feel motivated to make some change. You realized you’ve been blessed. you realize you’re running out of time. You make small talk about how you can’t believe it’s July already. You decide to pray and meditate more. You decide to get on with that project you put off. You get down on yourself because you haven’t accomplished what you hoped you would. We reached the mid-way point of the year this week. The year 2017 is halfway done. As much as I’m one to look for meaning in something like that, I haven’t made much time to reflect lately. I’m not sure it’s time for that anyway.
Monday I finished up at camp, came home and put the baby to bed. I was working on last week’s blog, when I heard our cat, Shylock, making noises that were part growl, part hiss, and part desperate meow. I’ve heard her make noises like that when she’s about to rumble with some other animal, but not nearly that prolonged. She limped around keeping one back leg stiff. She seemed to be in some serious pain. It was about 11pm. I woke Allyson to get her opinion. We decided we should call the vet.
It turns out there are no vets on the coast who do emergency work after hours. My closest option would be in Hillsboro, about an hour and a half drive. The vet I spoke to stopped me quickly after I had listed two symptoms and told me it sounded like it could be a condition that affects a cat’s spinal cord, and the condition is fatal if untreated. I was encouraged to make the drive. So, Shylock (who was not happy about being stuffed in the dog’s kennel) and I took a roadtrip.
Once summer camp work has begun, any trip offsite can feel like an adventure, no matter how menial or how tedious it would normally seem. Shylock and I were making the trip over the coastal range in the middle of the night after most people were in the bed. I listened to several podcasts I’ve gotten behind on. We made it to the Animal Hospital about 1am. The vets and vet technicians at the emergency center were all fairly young and friendly (especially considering they were working a night shift). They quickly ruled out the life-threatening spinal condition. Next they’d X-ray the leg she was favoring. She would need some drugs, because she was not at all happy and she ain’t one to mess with when she ain’t happy.
Ultimately, the vet couldn’t find anything substantial going on with her leg or any other part of her body. They gave sent us home with some more of the good drugs in case she hurt some more. I finally got home about 5:30am. I was glad my cat was not going to die, but I would have preferred the option where she lived and I got to sleep about 8 hours. Thankfully it was my day off. By the time I collapsed onto the bed, I could see the sunlight shining on the trees in our back yard. When I woke up later that morning, Shylock was curled up against my back.
My sister came to the Oregon Coast last week to meet her new niece. Tracye is one of the most attentive parents I know, and it was really cool getting to see her be an aunt with Aura. She is a parent who has put in great effort to establish routines for her two kids, and she’s a student of them, working to give them a structure that help them be happier and healthier. It was helpful to see the instincts she’s developed when we got into unsure moments. It was also just cool to have my little sister with me for a week.
One day I put Aura in the baby backpack, and we took a long walk on the beach, almost all the way to Rockaway Beach. We talked about so many different things. When we were teenagers, I would often go to Tracye’s room. We’d listen to music, talk about what was going on with our friends, finish our homework for the night. I can remember one night Tracye asked if she could record us talking. It occurred to me then what she was thinking–that our time like this was finite. We would only be under the same roof like this a little longer. We would only be our teenage selves a little longer. Recording this would be a small way to hold onto some of that. We soon followed our paths. I went to Knoxville, Tracye went to Massachusetts. Still, when we have time together, I feel tinges of those talks more than 20 years ago. I wouldn’t have been able to predict then that we’d find ourselves walking next to the Pacific Ocean someday, my child strapped to my chest, having those conversations as the cold surf washed over our feet.
The vet advised me to keep Shylock in the house for at least a week, until we could observe she was back to normal. Of course, being a cat, she wanted to go outside the following morning. At this point, she was showing no signs of pain or discomfort, so we caved and let her go out. I’ve heard several time this week from camp staffers who witnessed Shylock killing some sort of woodland creature. Shylock has always been the most murderous of our pets, and it seems like this week there’s been a great deal of Darwinian, circle-of-life scenes around camp, with Shylock playing the part of the alpha predator. So, while it isn’t helping the chipmunk population, I am glad my cat is back to full health, bringing us headless gifts as some sort of tribute paid to us.
At the end of the week, I helped lead worship for the first time this summer. It was on the lake, and we had everyone then get into boats and go out on the water. We encouraged everyone to listen for the voice of God. I have been trying to hear my own words lately. I have been trying to listen to the wind, the night animals, the voices in the room with me. I am in a wonderful place to listen, surrounded by wonderful people. I went into this year hopeful. I still do not know what to make of it at the halfway point, but I am at least still feeling that hope. As we put the boats into the lake, one of our staffer’s kayak flipped. She laughed and joked and swam in. I was worried about the way something like that can be sort of traumatizing. There are so many reasons an experience like that could push someone to not get on a boat again or maybe even go to a worship again. When we make ourselves vulnerable and it doesn’t go according to plan, it’s reasonable to expect some reluctance to return to it. Then, sometimes it makes us feel more alive than before.
The year is half done. Much has happened, and there are still many chapters to be written. I am in a mode now of making sure I am where I need to be, giving time to who I need, trying still to carve out the special moments with the people (and animals and plants) I love. It is a time of the year in this time of my life where that is challenging, it can be tiring sometimes as well. I’m going to do it, though. I’m sure I’ll have a reflection on it and more by the end of the second half.