By April and May I was beginning to identify with people who described themselves as living with chronic illness. There were accounts on Instagram and YouTube as well. One day I was home, the rest having left for some extra-curricular event, which would be the way through the spring. There was a repair man scheduled to come look at the sink. At this point I could not yet be around strangers, or anyone who wasn’t in my immediate sphere.

A woman named Rebekah sort of moved in next door. She and her husband and homeschooled four daughters lived in a giant RV that they had sold their home for. Her husband was needing to be in town for several months with a job project. Her parents and family were long time supporters of the camp, and her husband mowed when he could as a way to give back. For several months they lived in the camp ground by the maples.

“This is so like God”, I thought, “He answered my prayer.” A woman from church had recently reached out, asking if there was anything she could pray for. I asked her if she could pray that I’d find a few friends, proceeding to tell her that it’d been lonely out here, that the homeschooling was wonderful but that I just needed God to bring a friend. I texted her the day Rebekah and the girls moved in, saying you’d never believe this…

She sold Juice Plus supplements as a side business with homeschooling. I hadn’t been able to talk to her myself yet, but she gave Josh three bottles to give to me. I was deeply grateful and desperate to try anything. At the time I was taking anywhere from ten to twenty different vitamins and supplements, hoping something would soon start to work. It was harder to take the JuicePlus, which at two a piece added six more pills.

I don’t know now if she was the friend that I prayed for. I certainly didn’t end up being able to be much of a friend to her. I couldn’t believe, a homeschool mom who was living that close, and I couldn’t even do anything with her. I sent her texts here and there, apologizing that we couldn’t get together. I was used to living out here with my kids, but for a woman living alone in a bus with four kids, with no other way to drive around, I could imagine.

In the three months she was here we only got together twice. I had thought for sure we’d be able to do something, soon when I was better, or at least doing better than what I was. We kept texting about trying to do supper sometime, which never happened. Once we had a day where the kids played outside in the athletic field. Another homeschool friend brought her four kids too. I sat with my blanket just outside of the house.

I didn’t try to describe it then, but if I did to anyone, I described saying that it was like my force field was missing. It had actually been shattered, broken. Your force field is like that invisible shield that surrounds your body, providing a buffer from outside sounds and energy. This part of us takes a very long time to grow back. People doing nothing but talking to me would create a terrible nervous–as in pertaining to the nerves–discomfort.

Around my own husband and kids, it didn’t happen. It was amazingly as though I was immune to their energies, unaffected by the normalness we’d grown so accustomed to. The only time it did was if voices were raised, which I quickly learned was something that absolutely could not happen. It was like an electric fence that would train my soul, and create the boundary I hadn’t been able to create for myself. There had to be a new way.

The repair man showed up some late afternoon. Still resting in bed, I’d been feeling pretty good that day. I answered the door, just hoping to be as normal as possible. The small talk stung, and I braced myself against the rush of moving air that happens anytime a person walks into a room. He needed to see where the basement pipes were, to find the place where he could shut off the water. I walked him down the stairs and then back up.

I did a very foolish thing when he asked for a vacuum, or a broom or something to clean up the sink mess. I walked to the closet and got the handheld vacuum, plugged it in, and bent down to vacuum the mess up myself. Somehow after that I managed to keeping saying words and sign the needed receipt papers. When he left I went back to bed, spent and exhausted. The trees weren’t fully green and I watched them often in those days.

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