We’re ok.

It’s been three months since they rushed dad off of the ranch in an ambulance. Three months since his heart betrayed him.

Three months since we sat with him, night after night, in that hospital room in the big town as this brutal winter froze us over and life’s unexpected struggles brought us to our knees.

Three months since I told him, hang on dad, in a few months it will be spring and we have so many things to do.

And for three months it has just been my husband and I living on this ranch, going back and forth between work and home, one house and the other, checking on things, making sure everything’s fed and things are running right.

See, my parents decided to stick out the winter a little closer to town, to recover and take a breath, avoid the drive on icy roads and call someone to come in and renovate the house, nice and new for when they returned.

For three months I have been sending up a prayer each night thanking God for giving us our dad back. And for three months I’ve been telling myself that we are so blessed, so lucky to all be together in one piece.

And so it’s for all those blessings that I should jump for joy each morning, ready to get up with that beautiful sunrise outside of my window, but I haven’t.

I haven’t risen to shine very bright.

It’s been one of the longest, coldest, hardest winter of my life.

But let me say this, when we moved back to the ranch, almost four years ago now, it was not to get away from the big wide world, it was not to quiet and slow things down or to live inside a fantasy of a “simple country life.”

I grew up out here. I know it’s never been simple. In fact, living thirty miles from town on a gravel road that turns from dust to mud to ice and back again, has the potential to complicate a lot of things.

I knew this. And we came home anyway. We came to work. We came to learn. We came to make a life out here surrounded by a landscape we love and a family that can help us make the most of it.

But something shifted this winter, in the way I see this place, in the way I see this world we chose to surround us. Maybe it was the unexpected call in the middle of the night and the threat, the knowledge, that it all can be taken away in a second.

Maybe it’s our ongoing struggle to have a family and the realization that some people just don’t get what they want, no matter their prayers or their faith in something…

Or maybe it was just the relentless cold piled on top of it all, keeping me from climbing to the tops of the buttes for fear of frost bite, when climbing to the tops of those buttes is what I’ve relied on to heal me up time after time, but in the past three months this world has revealed to me her edge, and in response, it seems I’ve created my own.

And I want to tell myself that when that first crocus pops up under the warm sunshine that edge will soften and I will feel more like myself, but the truth is, I don’t think I need to go back there.

I’m not sure I want that.

Because this place is my refuge, yes. When I was a little girl so green and sheltered, it was here I belonged, here I could grow up sort of innocently unscathed for a few years before being thrown into the real world, and that is what I loved about it and one of the many reasons I returned.

But I’m a grown woman now. I’m at the age where money runs out and babies don’t make it, we don’t get the job and parents get sick…

Running into the trees and singing at the top of my lungs is not going to save me from these things, but those trees can hold me for a minute, help me breathe, help remind me that I can survive these human shaped tragedies.

And that even when this place is cruel, it is simultaneously beautiful…

Human shaped miracles happen too.

I know that. I’ve seen it.

Yesterday mom and dad moved back home, back to the ranch. Mom pulled into the yard and dad was waiting there, shoveling the drive from Monday’s snow storm, ready to grab her bag full of shoes and help her with the groceries.

Husband and I came over to visit, to see their new floors, to talk about furniture arrangement, have a glass of wine and welcome them back.

Back from a lonely winter.

Back from a hard time.

Back on the right side of life’s unexpected twists.

And I know now that we’re not all always going to be ok out here, but we’re ok right now.

Right now, we’re ok.

25 thoughts on “We’re ok.

  1. What a beautiful and moving post. I am so glad to read that your parents have returned home and I hope that spring brings much warmth, laughter, & joy.

  2. And OK is how you got BECAUSE of your family and friends…..and even if you don’t ever go back there, I know you will all be ok! Because…..well, because I believe! Stay ok Jessie! My prayer every night is that two young people, well I should say four young people that I care about have THEIR prayers answered. And I pray this every night because…..well because I believe!
    Love you

  3. Just finished reading your latest posting-wow.You have a wonderful gift of writing, of sharing your thoughts and feelings. Your dad is living the miracle of life.Blessings to all.

  4. All we have is right now, and sometimes it takes some shaking up and hard edges to know this, and to enjoy just that. Happy springtime to you and your family, you have a lot to do now.

  5. Jessie. This is such a beautifully written piece with some of life’s most important lessons wrapped up in it. The people make the place and the place makes the people. I hope to hear you recite this someday and know that we are all so glad you and your family had a ‘welcome home’ supper. A badlands sis – V

  6. While you have suffered your winter we have endured an equally brutal summer. It wears at your soul and makes you question your place in the world, but like you, right now, we are OK.

  7. thank you – beautiful and so true! it was a very hard winter for me too and made me think along the same lines and just yesterday wrote down for myself that I am ok now and that’s what really matters – thank you again and all the best wishes to you and your loved ones! greetings from Brussels, Signe

  8. It is all so temporary. We have to appreciate the moments that we have and appreciate the people in our lives.
    I’m glad to hear that your dad gets to spend another spring on his land. My parents are in their 80’s and have issues also. This post resonates with me in so many ways.

  9. Thank you. Thank you for reminding us that right now is what we have. Life is good, even with all it’s ups and downs, trials and celebrations, heartache and love.

  10. I’m glad to hear you’re okay right now. Challenges in life, like a parent’s illness, have a real power to shake you up and make you realize the fragility of our time on this earth, don’t they? After my mum’s long illness (which she has now recovered from, thankfully), I felt so fragile but also mindful that I mustn’t take anything for granted. And reading your wonderful writing always makes me feel grounded. Take care!

  11. As a wise friend of my mother once said “You have to bloom where you are planted” And you and your family have been planted in a most beautiful place regardless of lifes hardships. Carry on Jesse!!

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