Song Dedication: 4 am by Our Lady Peace
It’s been so busy, so hurried, but yet not chaotic.
You know when you are just nailing every little detail? Juggling 15 different objects but you’re in such a flow that you can nearly shift into autopilot to keep them all from hitting the floor. This was the original version of Sarah…the teaching machine. And even when she did fumble fuck something, she would miraculously recover. This was my old flow and my old way of feeling accomplished and worthy.
Last week she came back. Andrew had to leave town for the week for work. I had old dog having stitches removed, I had puppy with a serious gastro issue (both ends leaking bad smelling fluid at all hours), I had my seven year old with his typical seven year old needs (food, water, shelter, love), dogs to walk, vet appointments, photography sessions and editing, piano recital, Grandma visiting from Calgary, swiffering daily (because evidently our Bernedoodle is more berne than doodle), my own self-care…oh! and then teaching on call (cause that’s a thing I do now too).
She came back because she had to. Just because we deem someone or something as unhealthy we cannot banish them from our lives forever. I mean, I’m intolerant to ice cream but you don’t see me bowing out of this profound life event when it arises. Albeit smaller portions, but each and every mouthful is still savoured.
So old Sarah showed up like Mary Poppins, spit spot to get it all done. Hitting every mark, on time, prepared.
With Father’s Day on the horizon, I was also preparing for Andrew, my Dad and John (my bio dad in the UK). Gifts were bought, cards signed and dinner planned. Then Damn! I forgot a card for John (well forgot to do this 2 weeks ago to get it to the UK on time) I did the next best thing trying to arrange a phone call. Using WhatsApp, I tried my Uncle first to no avail. I then tried his care worker, who eventually with the 8 hour time difference got back to me promptly.
Father’s day morning, he kindly told me (via text) the most pertinent details and suggested I call in the morning to have a discussion with him. John had been re-admitted to hospital 2 days ago.
I woke to this message, put it on pause and focussed on my husband and son. Made bacon and eggs and pancakes, sat down with them and then explained to my husband what I had learned. Mindful of the time change, I needed to make the phone call before it got too late in Wales.
John’s care taker was ready to take my call and told me everything I needed to know, which I so appreciated as he really was going above and beyond his duty (yet again). John has neglected to drink water because of his failing memory and with only three visits a day from the care worker, it’s difficult to monitor his intake. Due to dehydration he then suffers from more brain fog, difficulty with his balance and becomes even less compliant. After several falls, where furniture and belongings are spilled about the house as evidence of struggle and an accompanying kidney and bladder infection, he had been taken to hospital for antibiotics and 24 hour monitoring.
Turns out their medical system is much like ours here in Canada, and things have to get fairly bad before they will transition an elderly patient to full-time care.
My goal was to speak to John and wish him a happy father’s day. I called the hospital ward and they kindly gave me his direct line. He unfortunately is quite unresponsive in his condition and they were also having technical issues with the phone and cable lines so it was not to be. This was frustrating.
What added to my frustration is he is in Herefordshire Hospital. Hereford is where one of his daughters is believed to reside. Old Sarah was still in charge, even though she should have gone to rest someplace else (even Mary Poppins takes a break from time to time, you will notice her pattern as she drops in as needed, but exits also as needed). She felt it was in some way her responsibility to reconnect the long lost daughter and her Father. She had already preemptively asked the carer if he knew of her trying to make contact with John, which he replied yes. At that time, John had declined contact with her.
So spinning her old wheels, where she believes she can control most things, old Sarah got to work. She facebooked as many 30 something Shannon Lewis’s as she could sending them a weird ‘are you my half-sister’ messages, and looked up the Herefordshire white pages and found the only three S. Lewis’s with a listing. Calling all three, they were all very kind but unfortunately were not a sibling and did not know of anyone by the name Shannon. I deep down knew this busy work would not bring about the result I was looking for, but still felt it necessary for ruling out purposes.
At which point my Mom unwittingly called to ask a question about mosquito repellent and was instead met with her daughter’s defeat and frustration over the phone to someone who knew the context. It turned into crying and anger. She voiced her resentment toward her dead grandmother, who had deliberately kept this all a secret from the people “who deserved to know”, taking it to her grave and leaving me with the messy aftermath.
Better out than in…but reign that shit in too though.
After that phone call, her husband looked at her sympathetically but also with reservation, recognizing the old Sarah again. Instead of calling her out and triggering her more he spoke to Sarah 2.0 being held hostage within. He suggested that when we all go down to the park this afternoon, why don’t you go for a walk? Plug in some music or a podcast and take some time for yourself. Best advice possible.
That was doable. One foot in front of the other. Listen to something instead of talking yourself in circles. I felt relief just thinking of it.
I walked. I listened. I came back to the park 45 minutes later as Sarah 2.0.
During that time, I gained valuable insight. Being still within brought a deeper understanding of the situation. One, I was projecting expectation. My husband has miraculously connected with his paternal side of the family through cause and effect and some divine intervention. Everything aligned so poetically. I assumed it would be the same for me. I believe now that not only may it be a longer process to find her and my other siblings, that I may never connect with any of them. I don’t say this to make you feel sad and to reinforce a sense of hopelessness, but it is a realistic possibility that I must surrender to so I am not held hostage by what might be. Two, I was feeling like it was my job to be the intermediary for John and Shannon…a role I used to play between other family members growing up. Three, I felt like I could control everything if I outthought shit. This was a residual effect of operating as old Sarah for a week.
On Monday, I took this calmed down perspective into my on-call teaching job. As I drove to school that morning to teach a grade 5/6 class, my phone went into random music play (which it does every so often). The song that played (one of my favourites from my high school days) 4 am by Our Lady Peace. It was a song that allowed me to be vulnerable, when I was so raw and lost and unsure, yet afraid so I learned to put on heavy armour to shield myself from knowing eyes. I listened in gratitude and sang along as I parked my car. The anger had subsided. The frustration of wanting things to be different fell away. And there I was again, present.
I have been mulling a tattoo over for a while now and then finally reached out to a local tattoo artist to see if I could get in. At first he said he was booking into January but would keep me on call because it was a simple job. Three hand written words.
I was ready to wait until the time was right.
Later that day I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee. As I walked up to the coffeeshop door my phone buzzed, so I stopped to check it. It was the tattoo guy. He had an unexpected break in his day and said if I could come now I could have the spot. His shop was a block away. I checked with my friend, who excitedly said she would meet me at his shop instead.
I surrendered to what was and things aligned. Huh?! No shit!