I yawned and stretched. I’d gone to bed too late the night before – thirsty to soak up every last drop of time I could with my daughter and my granddaughters – but I’d still managed to rise early enough to start out on my twenty-two hour drive at a decent time. My girls were yet asleep, and I was packing the truck in my pajamas, half asleep myself, when a little shimmer captured my eye.
I bent closer. Something was jammed beneath the edge of the driver’s seat. I picked it out with my thumb and forefinger. A bracelet! But whose? It was tarnished enough to make me suspect it had been stuck in that crack a while. Probably it belonged to my bonus daughter, Megan Alpa.
I brushed away the fine layer of dirt that covered – hmm – covered what? Oh! That covered words!
“Life is a journey … not a destination … Enjoy the moments.”
A swallow caught in my throat. The phrase was cliche, yes, but considering all we’d experienced the last ten weeks, it was apt, too.
I tiptoed into the kitchen and rubbed it to a shine with a pinch of baking soda, then slipped it onto my own wrist, deciding to keep it on through the remains of my adventure. I paused to admire it a moment before I returned to the task of packing.
“Life’s a journey …”
But just isn’t it?
Early on the morning of August 9th, I rose, kissed Steven goodbye, climbed into our crammed-full truck, and began to make my way north and east – into the sunrise. Seventy-one mornings later there I was, poised to kiss Hannah and Evangeline and wee, sweet Elyse goodbye, poised to clamber back into our far-less-full truck, and head out – back toward the setting of the sun.
I did my kissing, my clambering, and my heading and, as I did, the words printed on that little trinket I fished from its grimy crevice ran a circuit through my mind.
So much life happened in such a short span of time! I’d had hardly time to do more than scribble the bare bones of events into my journal as they piled one upon another! I took time to think them through and reflect as I passed from Michigan into Indiana, then on through Illinois and Iowa.
The adventure began with a suturing class caught on the fly in Denver and moved to a handful of catch-up calls as I raced on through Nebraska. I arrived in Michigan the following evening and immediately set to work with my daughter, Hannah, tending to her assortment of lovely clients. Seven babies were due to be born through my visit, including Hannah’s and my daughter-in-law, Megan’s. I’d only wind up managing to attend five of those babies’ births, though I couldn’t know that then. Still, I’d attend five births and more than seventy prenatal or postpartum visits before the trip’s conclusion. I’d also log a total of 5,719 miles on the odometer by the time I rolled back into my Colorado driveway.
I reveled in the work, much of which was comprised of sweet reunions with the Amish folk I’d spent a lifetime serving – folk I left four years previous with an ache throbbing in my heart – while memories of former times washed in to flavor the new as we drove from farm to farm, feeling bellies, weighing babies, fetching milk and eggs, conducting an impromptu lifestyle course or two, catching up, and basking in the friendships.
In addition to midwifing, we celebrated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, as well as another couple’s vow renewal and four birthdays – among them, Steven’s 50th! Steven himself traveled to us twice and, despite crazy mix-ups with the airlines, was able to enjoy most of those celebrations and meet both of our newest grandchildren.
In the creases and crevices of the goings-on, I did my best to manage business from afar – both my own practice and assignments regarding the publication of my book. While the generous Emily Thompson and the faithful Sarah York saw to the hands-on care of the clients I left behind (numberless thank yous, Emily and Sarah!), I interviewed with potential clients and had discussions with my editor and agent by email, text, Facebook, telephone, and Skype. Plus, I hammered out the book’s jacket blurb and bio, published a few blog posts, participated in a podcast, made a valiant effort to create a little series of videos for my exercise articles with Hannah, and made so many trips to Staples that the woman at the print counter came to know me by name.
Mostly though, I cleaned, cooked, washed up and folded laundry, wrangled the toddler and the dogs, made a pregnant belly cast, shopped for groceries, helped assemble the crib Steven crafted from mountainside cabinwood for my son and his family, packed and moved and unpacked my daughter and her family’s belongings through their last-minute move, cuddled my grandson through the hours of his mama’s return to work, tagged along for both babies’ tongue and lip tie revisions, snapped hundreds of photographs, processed a placenta, ironed and hung draperies, changed ten thousand diapers, squashed countless leaf-footed bugs, massaged a good many necks and heads and backs and feet, scrubbed heaps of dishes, and crept into bed each night with the warm body of either my new grandson or my new granddaughter sprawled across my chest.
But best of all, woven amidst that tapestry of work like silken flashes of color, naturally and again, with one or another of my three glorious grandbabies nestled against my overflowing heart, my children and their loves and I – often with a treasured friend or two in attendance – filled in the spaces among the hours with a great many nourishing talks. We shared and listened and pondered, then shared and listened and pondered some more, punctuating our talks with laughter and, sometimes, with tears as we wove and wove and wove our hearts ever more snugly together.
I landed in Lincoln after my first day on the road, filled with my reflections, crashed into bed for an eleven hour sleep, then continued on my way along the everlasting, autumn tinged fields of Nebraska even as I continued along the course of those thoughts.
And I was thinking of all I plan to share with you through the coming weeks – the story of my grandson’s birth, the story of my granddaughter’s birth, tales of my time yet again among the Amish – a recounting of my numberless prayers answered – as Pikes Peak reared into view beneath a bright rainbow and the brilliant rays of a steadily sinking sun. I became aware from within my reveries that I’d reached the final leg of my adventures, and found that all I could do was smile.
A text bleeped in from a friend as I sat here tonight, tapping away at my trusty keyboard, to congratulate me on my “sacred journey.” My sacred journey! Yes! What a sacred journey this truly has been. And what, I’m certain, a sacred journey it will continue to be!
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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