It’s super quiet in my house this morning. I remembered that I took a picture of this man walking on the beach on Bainbridge Island. It was out of the ordinary because most of the time when the ferry pulls in, I never even notice that there is a beach there — the water normally meets the trees. He was sitting there for awhile and as the ferry pulled closer, he looked less like an orange dot and more like a man. Sitting. Then walking.
I had a moment last night, when I was lining up my nightly meds — when I realized that I was naming each illness in my head as I opened the pill bottles. Like a checklist. This one is for this. This one is for that. This one is for that other thing. This one is for the new one. I lined them all up from smallest to biggest, and then scooped them into my hand and took them all at once.
Order where there is no order. I feel so far away from who I thought I would be.
I can’t help but think of this man, sitting on the beach. Timing it just right so that he could sit for awhile. Standing up to walk, so that he could enjoy it a little bit longer. Soon the tide would come in, and he would have to time it just right. So he wasn’t rushed away.
Illness gives me permission. To feel sorry for myself when I want to. To say “no” when I don’t feel well. To not engage in an argument that goes nowhere.
It gives me clarity on the things that I can change, and the things that I can’t. Along with permission to not feel bad when I walk away.
It gives me clear limits, on what I can and can’t accomplish in one day. When I’m done with my day, I don’t push myself to do more.
It gives me permission to take my kids to the beach two hours away — on a whim — simply because we never visited that beach before.
It gives me permission to walk away from people who don’t appreciate my time. And permission to give every bit of myself to the ones who do.
It gives me the freedom to choose my goals wisely. And sometimes foolishly.
And now I can hear running and jumping and yelling and dog barking as my house wakes up and the tide comes in.