We’re living in the ebb.
This may take some time.
My despair is kept at bay, on the shore, just beyond the laps of dark water, because I know the flow will return.
The ebb of winter seeps through all the cracks of our home and hearts. We stumble down the decline, knocking our tender bones against the cold rigid sides.
Locked in, hunkered down against the bitter of the season, lest the frost bite our digits and noses.
The Micro Ebb
Down here, I’m learning that the winter ebb has its own micro ebb and flow, highs and lows.
We rise slightly on the micro flow when mom manages a smile. She drew my hand to her mouth yesterday and gave it three kisses. My heart.
But the micro ebb of the ebb is dark, confusing.
Will I ever find my way up and out?
Every winter, I wake determined to plant my feet and take the steps, write the words, send the queries, but the ebb sucks me back. I struggle to keep up with my soul work because the holidays demand attention, travel, and food.
This winter, the ebb is deeper, darker, more demanding than any holiday.
I hold a protective arm over my head.
Careful! I think it’s folding in on itself!
“I can’t concentrate on anything,” my dad confesses.
Maybe I respond “That’s normal,” which isn’t untrue, but the better, more honest answer is: “Me either.”
You’re not alone, Dad.
Conflicted and scattered thoughts pool in the depths of this ebb, threads of regrets and dread lace the surface like poisonous oils.
“Don’t do that!” I point my finger. But I’m mainly reminding myself, “We can’t do that.”
This is where we are.
It’s deeper than the three wells on the farm, stacked, one over the other, and I can’t find the rope to pull us up.
So I prepare for what’s coming, because it is coming. We’re almost there, so I write the things now, before the ebb pools in the muddy release of tears. I sit in the stillness of the deep ebb as we wait for the flow to return.
Don’t judge us for looking forward to the flow. I don’t crave it, but the promise of flow after tears sustains me, warms my cold bones as we wait out this dark winter.
Animals accept the winter ebb, they prepare for it all year long, nests of sustenance, stores of fat so the body can sleep through it. Some animals make it. Some don’t.
Mom won’t winter over this, her 83rd winter. And we’ll all be changed on the other side of it.
Me? I’m sleeping much more than usual.
I’m the bee in winter, nestled in the hive with dislodged wings, because if I flap and fly into the cold of winter, I’ll freeze midflight, fall to the cold brown ground. What good would I be to anyone then?
Set aside the things of flow. Don’t fly just now. Lay down your wings but allow the hum of their engines to warm this space in the ebb. Rest, remember, restore. Spring will return.
This is our ebb. We rest, we wait, we remember, we remind mom that we are here.
I’m listening, Mom.
We hold her hand, hope for smiles, and pray for her relief.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022
This is so beautiful—stunning, actually. And relatable.
This is beautiful, Pennie. So moving. So many of us are or have gone through this. Holding you in my heart.
Your imagery (and that of the Relief post you linked to) absolutely blew me away. For some of us, it brings back memories of a similar time – our parents, or other loved ones. For others, your posts will be a roadmap for understanding when their caregiving turn comes. Thank you for continuing to share your journey, your pain and yes, your relief.
Thanks, Alana. You know why we write. <3
I am totally with you on this journey, Pennie. How I wish I’d had your kind of wisdom when I was going through mine!
Thanks, Diane. Not sure how wise I am, but I feel fortunate to be at peace.
Thank you for continuing to share your journey. Keeping you all in my thoughts.