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It’s Okay If You Stay Here

He’s orange, and he has orange eyes. He seems to be inhabiting the outskirts of the farm until well after the sun goes down. One of the little boys named him “Macaroni”. We don’t see him very often. If darkness has fallen by the time I bring food to the barn cats, he will often emerge from the edge of the corn field and wait for a chance at the stainless steel bowl of Meow Mix. If I toss, however carefully, a handful of food his way, he will retreat. He doesn’t trust me.

It always seemed like such a project to put the hose away after I had finished watering in the yard. This was a task that offered no gratification, brought out my impatience, and left me with dirty hands. No matter how careful I thought I was, in my haste to move on to other chores, I would never get the hose wrapped up properly after the job was done. It seemed far easier not to have a hose holder of any sort, but to leave the garden’s lifeline in an abandoned heap on the grass until it was needed again.

“His perception of reality appears seriously impaired.”

It’s okay if you stay here. Someday, though, someone may tell you that you cannot. It’s not that I don’t want you to; it’s just that eventually, this place won’t hold you anymore, and then we will know that the time has come.

I can’t tell if Macaroni wants to be part of our family. Once, I caught him during the day admiring the chickens, so we have that in common.

The days are shorter now, as the seasons turn and we look back to see that we have grown older and our bodies have slowed, but we know much less than we did before.

“…More failed medication trials than any other patient”.

It’s so hard to hear the words that have been there all along, forming inside my head; words that have been waiting years to offer a disheartening sting where the pain should have been dulled long ago.

“Have you ever considered…”

No. Well, maybe I have thought about it, or at least tried blocking out the thought.

There’s really no time for a good cry. There are too many people around. Or, the tears begin to flow, and then I remember that I had somewhere to go.

“…Afraid one of you is going to get hurt”.

Are the days defined by your presence? There’s a small sparkle, and now the rhythm has changed. We are here for just a moment of time.

It’s okay if you stay here, right in the space where you are, for however long. There you should stay until you no longer need to, until you know, even when we don’t.

In just a month’s time our smallest boy will be off to preschool. I have been asked what I will do when I no longer have children at home to define my days. What I will do is what I may not have done well for the last two decades: I am just going to stay here for a while.

I forgot to water the apple trees at the west end of the property. It hadn’t rained in a while. There were two hoses connected together, but still they were not long enough to reach the apple trees. I had to fill a bucket and haul it to where it was needed. The young trees would not survive, though, if they were not given water, no matter the presenting challenge.

“You might not be able to give him what he needs”.

Or, he might need more than we can give.

Sometimes, the space in time stands still. It asks nothing of us; it holds us until we are ready. It’s not time to face what’s next, or even to know what that might be. I’m just going to stay here for a little while, in this hole of time that I know. It’s a bit uncomfortable; at times it’s even painful. They know me here, though, and I’d like to stay.

We didn’t yet have a place to put the hose at the farm, and I think I was okay with that. Then one day, Dan brought a metal holder home and set it in the ground. The two connected hoses were just right for being wound onto the holder in a series of hula hoop-sized rings. Now, there would be no reason to leave the hose in the grass. At first it may have seemed like an obligation; one more thing to do. I found, though, a kind of serenity, a sacred pause, almost a meditative quality, in this simple act. I don’t think I will ever see this as a chore again.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. There may come a day when there is nothing out there, nothing left to try, and nowhere else to go. It’s okay to stay here until you have to go. And still part of you will always be here, like the others that have left their marks and certainly part of their souls here.

They grow, and they find their own ways. They leave, because they have to, in that moment of time. And when their paths bring them back home, they will find me here, perhaps arranging the garden hose while I wait for the car to come up the road.

I hope that the orange cat will stay; I hope that one day, he will learn to trust and know that we are on his side. I hope that you don’t have to go. If you do, though, I know that you will be back, one day.

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