I lay my head down on the pillow after adjusting it with practiced precision to support my neck the way I like it. Releasing my weight down on the fluffed surface, so the sides of the pillow embrace my head and neck, I feel a steady cool breeze through the open window and relax.
Yet another night, I wake hours before dawn, head swirling with questions, to-do’s, and anxiety creeping up on me. I take a breath and begin to focus on the symphony being performed outside – listening carefully; I make out a chorus of thousands of crickets harmonizing with one another and reaching a crescendo. As if I were reading a musical score, I follow the rise and fall of the sound, hoping it can lull me back to sleep.
Not sure how long I lay there, I realize I may not drift back to sleep as my attention turns to the ever-increasing sound of Rich’s labored breathing. Rather than rouse him, I slowly creep out of bed and tip-toe downstairs.
A few minutes later, I am nestled on the couch, hands embracing a cup of hot tea, looking out the big picture window toward our backyard. My head, now resting on the back of the couch, as I marvel at how the clear sky is slowly getting light enough for me to make out the strong, thick outstretched limbs of the nearly 300-year-old tree by the barn; the sun rises as I sip and savor this view, knowing in a month it will no longer be mine to enjoy.
Bittersweet these moments. My mind shifts to memories of standing at this same window in the early morning hours, swaying back and forth, rocking one of my baby girls back to sleep, hoping with each sway that Rich and I can get a few more hours of slumber before the day begins. Was that really 25 or 30 years ago? How often have I glanced out this window to watch a rabbit hop among the snow fall gently around it or enjoy the natural dance of the misty fog rising with the sun in the backfield as a fox heads back to its den from its evening hunt?
I remember standing here with the girls, listening carefully for the hoot of the Great Horned owls that had nested in one of our hundred-year-old trees. I recall Beck’s large beautiful eyes getting wider when she heard the sound. And how later that day, together, we searched for the owl pellets they dropped after swallowing their dinner whole. Beck, so curious, was on the hunt for the pellets so she could carefully package their regurgitated contents in a baggie for show-and-tell. Sometimes we’d dissect those pellets, filled with the tiny bones they couldn’t digest, pretending to be experts that could quickly identify the miniature skeletal remains as a field mouse. I imagine Beck standing at the front of the class, hoping her friends would find the pellets fascinating rather than foul.
Like a montage, I remember our yard as the scene of many capture the flag games – the kids and their friends running and squealing as they try to outrun and outsmart the other team. We loved that we had a large enough home to host all kinds of gatherings, such as the annual holiday family open house we threw every December, some years with horse-drawn wagon rides through nearby Sonnenberg Gardens. Every year, though, we offered a babysitter (especially when our children – and our friends-children- were young). Enticing holiday craft projects and kids’ holiday movies would play continuously upstairs, allowing the younger set to have fun. At the same time, the adults enjoyed a grown-up beverage or two and uninterrupted conversation on the floor below.
My phone interrupts this memory montage as my gentle wake-up alarm begins to go off – the soothing music starting low and slowly getting louder, just as I’ve programmed it to. Shutting the alarm off, my mind focuses on the day ahead. I will live my current mantra –taking one moment to fill one box at a time. I bring my now coldish tea to my lips and smile from the inside out. Grateful for having lived here and being able to glance out this window at this very sight enjoying it one more time.
Heart full, I rise to start the day.