Give me a minute to tell you a little about my week. Before it becomes a blur, I need to tell somebody. It’s a lot.

This week started in high gear with a to-do list that looked something like this.

Not an unbusy week. Retreat week! After groceries (1st bullet), I packed the car and left the city for the farm. So much to do.

But before I moved to the next bullet of my list, all the bullets blew up.

Covid. Stupid Covid.

What to do when you’re poised to pull the lever (we had bought all the food!), but you have to let go?

I asked a lot of questions. Sure, to people around me as we regrouped, rescheduled, and salvaged the groceries, but mostly to the universe.

One of our team members commented:

“[W]henever I come across a big disappointment I think to myself – oh man, this stinks – I wanted ‘X’… Then I swerve and think – wow, this cancellation most likely just saved me or someone I know…”

I have a similar mindset, but dammit, I’d like to know what it was and who was saved.

A bag of bullets

My bullets blew up and a new list emerged with discovery, to-do, and news bullets. These are some (not all) of the bullets:

  • Dad: we’re going to ER
  • Daughter: “We did it! We’re married!”
  • ER doc: He has Covid.
  • Me: Mask and quarantine
  • Son: “They hired me!”
  • Me: Reschedule retreat
  • Friend: “I’m coming to save the retreat food.
  • Me: Test → Negative (repeat repeat repeat)
  • Partner: “Bernice can’t walk.
  • Me: Don’t forget the eclipse.

When I started this week, Retreat was more than enough to fill it. When the week went sideways, I was suddenly the shortstop, fielding 100mph grounders.

Toes. Be on your toes.

This morning, I fielded the sad bullet. Bernice, our first foster fail, has been failing for weeks. We had hoped she would pass quietly in her sleep. She didn’t.

I returned to the city after three negative tests to do what no pet owner ever wants to do. It’s a lot, but it was time.

It’s a lot, and I’ve got this.

Are you still with me? Good. I do have a point: It’s a mixed bag of bullets.

Some of the bullets are fabulous. Even when you think a bag is all bad or all good, it’s not. It’s always mixed. Because the bag of bullets is mixed, the good bullets are easy to overlook. My new list included excellent bullets:

  • First born eloped.
  • Youngest found a great job in his field.
  • My friend saved the food.
  • We had a beautiful solar eclipse.

Alignment feels good even when it slides in sideways. I was where I needed to be, sitting in the vet parking lot with Bernice, waiting for a gurney. I had forgotten about the eclipse.

How was that alignment? Had I not rescheduled the retreat, I would have been out of sorts, thinking about Bernice when I should have been teaching. Also, 14 is my number, and:

  • Today is October 14.
  • Bernice and I were parked in slot 14.

Like a wink from the universe: you’ve got this. 

The solar eclipse

The sun and moon moved to cast their magic, and I noticed patterns on the pavement of the parking lot, the beautiful play of leaves, light, and shadow. I would miss most of the eclipse. By noon, the sun and moon would align, and we would be holding Bernice in a cramped room as the overdose of anesthesia gently stopped her heart.

That was a challenging bullet. And…

And there were good bullets. Dad survived Covid and tested negative for Covid today.

I am writing most of this from my backyard, in my hammock, in the light of a post-eclipse sun. This moment is a good bullet during a difficult week. It’s not the week I wanted, but I hope I met it with enough grace for my people and pets. I didn’t stop asking why? why? why? and I’m still listening for the lessons.

Maybe one of the lessons is a reminder: even when it’s a lot, I can field those grounders, stay on my toes, and pivot to reschedule a retreat. Also, even when it’s a lot, it’s not all bad.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023