Picnic basket in one hand, my son’s hand in the other, we open the rusty gate and head out to find a perfect spot to lay our blanket. The autumn leaves crunch beneath my farm boots – I still snicker when I look down and see rubber boots instead of polished, tan toes that compliment my $1 Old Navy flip-flops. Paleo farm girl runs ahead of us and asks to let the chickens out. Her wavy hair dances in the mountain air and sings a song as the sun flickers off her fading summer highlights.
Paleo son giggles when the chickens break free from their coop – their eyes eager to find a juicy bug outside the coop walls. Do I know that feeling! Paleo farm girl picks up her favorite chicken, Susie Sunshine, so delicately and gently. This is the second Susie Sunshine. The first Susie Sunshine met her unfortunate fate when Paleo farm girl accidentally stepped on her. I felt the crush and blow with her and we held her fading body as she slipped away from this world. This was our first hard lesson of farm life but we knew the pain of death already.
My son slips from my hand and brings me back to this moment. I watch as he runs ahead and I know where he is going. He is fascinated with “wish flowers” and they cover our pasture. He counts to three and blows and I watch the white florets surround my son and I watch as his eyes follow the florets up in the air above him. The moment is perfect and I thank God that I am here in it. I remember my life when it was crushed, stepped on…like the first Susie Sunshine. My life was fading away and I felt like I couldn’t breath. My bones were broken and I couldn’t hold my head up. My spirit barely was holding on and I could not get past the pain my body had felt.
I stood in the hallway broken and crying out for help, I felt it. I felt someone pick me up and over time He began to, every-so-carefully, put me back together. I watch my children in our new life and think of how my life has so, drastically, changed. But it didn’t happen all at once…it was piece by piece…by piece. And now I walk hand-in-hand with my child whose birth painfully reminds me of the death of my sister. My life has been a life of parallels; plagued with celebrating the life of my son, but burdened, at the same time, with grieving the death of my younger sister. It’s been two years and I’ve walked these parallels and I’ve been burdened with grief and guilt. I’ve been screaming into a pillow and felt trapped in this life. I thought this is how it would feel forever…but here I am…I’m watching the wish flowers surround my son and fly up into the mountain breeze. I’m looking at the mountains that surround us and admiring the way the sun forms shadows on in the crevices of the distant peaks.
I hit my knees and a wave of peace comes over me. I don’t feel God anymore so I don’t know if that is what this is…but it is something so close that it leaves me believing that I will feel Him again. I reach my hand up to grab my sister’s necklace and, for once, I know it’s ok. My sister led me here because I know I wouldn’t be here…in the middle of the mountains of North Carolina…if it wasn’t for what happened. My life wouldn’t have gone through such trauma. I wouldn’t feel like I do now. I wouldn’t be this alive.
Cause now I feel things. I see things I never saw…
like how beautiful the florets of the wish flower are.
Or how my daughter’s hair dances in the air.
Or how beautiful the leaves are as they are changing from green to their autumn color.
I wouldn’t feel peace because to truly feel peace, you have to know what war is.
I pull the checkered blanket from our picnic basket and we sit down to enjoy this day that was given to us. My daughter says a prayer and thanks the Lord for her chicken. My son throws his little arms in the air and screams, “AMEN.” We break bread together, as a little family that has been through a tough few years but has come out of the storm. I had a feeling this place would help me continue to heal and I’m thankful that it has held up to that expectation.
My heart has always had a calling for more than what a city could offer me and living in it was like a prison.
I’m thankful to be set free.
I’m blessed to be able to treasure this moment.
…because now I know how fast life is.
…now I know that I can be broken…and happy…and it’s ok.
This crushed and broken city-girl is gone. A vibrant and peaceful farm girl has arrived.
My soul is…