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I fell the last time we went camping.
I don’t know how it happened. I was stepping out of the camper, and then I was going down, hard. My left foot hit the ground, my ankle rolled outward with the impact. My back hit the camper step knocking the breath out of me, and my butt hit the ground. I couldn’t move or breathe. The pain was that bad.
My husband Greg quickly jumped up to help. He got me off the ground and into a chair and put ice on my quickly swelling ankle. In shock, I sat and cried.
I’ve always been a go-getter — ambitious, independent and driven.
When I saw the need for a communication network for West Michigan homeschoolers, I started one. When my daughters wanted to be in real school theatre productions on a real stage with real audiences—as opposed to skits in church basements with real (but small) audiences—I made that happen too.
I think it is my get-things-done personality that has made it so hard for me to slow down and accept being in a wheelchair.
Even now, when I am on a mission, no obstacle is insurmountable. In the midst of an endeavor, I am indefatigable. A business partner once told me he couldn’t imagine me relaxing. The truth is, when a big project is complete, I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. And when it’s time to unwind, I put all my energy into relaxing. Taking time to recharge is crucial to preventing a crash. And yes, I learned that the hard way. My preferred form of R&R has always been camping.
One of our favorite getaways is a Lake Michigan campground.
That’s where Greg and I were the morning I fell. We had spent the previous two months cleaning, painting and de-cluttering in order to sell our house. It was finally on the market, and we were ready for some R&R. Heck! We deserved it! We had a glorious week planned of nothing but rest and relaxation. Now our plans for an enjoyable vacation were in jeopardy, and I was mad!
Camping is part of who Greg and I are.
Back then, I could do it all—hook the camper up to the truck, pull it, park it, and set it all up by myself. I loved it when family and friends came to visit, and I reveled in the peace and quiet of camping alone. At the end of the week, I was recharged and ready to face whatever came my way.
I hadn’t been camping by myself since the summer of 2009.
But as I’d sat staring into the campfire the night before, I’d been thinking about doing it again. The camper was older. The cranks didn’t turn as smoothly as they used to, so Greg would probably have to come out and help me set up. But I was pretty sure I could handle the resting and relaxing—until I fell and couldn’t get off the ground by myself. And that’s why I was crying, not because of the pain—well maybe a little bit, it really hurt—but mostly for the loss of independence.
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In his book, A Year of Living Prayerfully, Jared Brock says,
“There is a season for everything under the sun – even when you can’t see the sun.”
And that’s where I was the morning I fell out of the camper. I couldn’t see the sun.
As it turned out, that was the last time we would camp in our beloved pop-up camper. Without even realizing it, we had come to the end of a season. Or maybe, subconsciously, I did realize it, and that was another reason for my tears.
We stored the camper through two more summers.
I kept saying, “We’ll have more time to camp next summer.” The first summer, we had an apartment near the beach, we moved into our new house, and our middle daughter got married. The second summer, we replaced a flat tire, had the camper’s lift system greased, and mended a hole in the screen and window cover where a mouse family had decided to nest. But with spending time with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson in Chicago, attending family events like my cousin Mikey’s ordination, and running my new freelance writing business, we just never found time to take the camper out. As last summer came to a close, we took all of our camping gear out of the camper and winterized it really well.
It’s camping season again.
The good news is: Our camper will be spending time at Lake Michigan and church campouts once again because it has new owners. It sold to the first people who looked at it, a nice young couple with a sweet two-year-old named Rocko. My heart ached when we made the decision to sell it. But as Rocko climbed from the camper bed to the couch and figured out how to open the camper door all by his proud little self, I knew that it was absolutely the right thing to do.
I’m not convinced that we’ll never camp again. After all, the highways and byways of our country are filled with retirees in motor homes. But for this season of Rehearsing RetirementTM, we’re going to spend more time on airplanes and cruise ships. And I’m okay with that.
Now it’s your turn!
How have life’s changing seasons been hard for you? What adjustments have you had to make? And how did you do it?