Saturday, July 2, 2011

Small Moments of Grace

Not much happens in my world. The days come and go, the sun rises and then falls again, the seasons repeatedly turn and the traffic outside my window zooms by. As I remain here, sick and essentially motionless, I watch as everyone else hurries to work, to dinner, to a friend's house, or to some event or adventure I cannot partake in.

I long to re-enter the world of the living; to wake up one morning free from all bodily constraints, able to jump away from this bed and the disease which has taken so much from me.

In the meantime, I continue to try to remind myself that my life, with all its physical pain, sickness and struggle, is not without its own quiet moments of activity, beauty and purpose.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine from back east (who also happens to be a former boss, and one of the sweetest people you could ever know) sent me an amaryllis plant for Christmas. I watched in wonderment as it slowly transformed from a tiny bulb to six individual, colorful blossoms.

This spring the plant bloomed for a second time, going from this:

to this:

It's an interesting thing, watching a flowering plant bloom. There's a serenity to it; a sense of wisdom, elegance and quiet patience. I could do well to learn to possess such virtues.

Ironically, I've never been one who was good at resting, nor at being still. Even confined to this bed, I want always to be doing, to be accomplishing something, to know I am somehow still making a difference in the world. I struggle to just be. I appreciate nature's silent and gentle reminders that sometimes there can be beauty in merely being present to what is; to existing, breathing and hoping.

As I struggle with my forced solitude, I am happy to have a new bunny living outside my window, keeping me company. I seem to have a new rabbit living in the front yard with the arrival of every new spring and summer season. So far this particular bunny has been rather quiet, preferring only to be seen in the early morning hours or just before sunset.

Fortunately, the bunny apparently found a safe hiding place when this coyote showed up in hopes of a tasty breakfast.

Even though he probably would have had little interest in me, I was still glad there was a wall to safely separate us. :)

One morning I had the privilege of seeing this beautiful deer strolling the yard. She took my breath away.

I've had my share of the usual window nature sightings as well: a variety of squirrels, gophers, lizards, birds, birds and more birds. Here are a few of said creatures:

I'm told this is an antelope squirrel (not a chipmunk),
but I'm not convinced

Gecko (not to be confused with Geico)

Finch and Cardinal Hang Out
A pretty goldfinch

Cooper's Hawk

I mentioned in a previous post that, on "good days," my parents sometimes wheel me to their bedroom where I get to have a much nicer view of the mountains, sky and landscape. While those jail breaks have been less frequent than I would prefer, I am grateful for every one of them. It is on those days that I get to see views like this:

The view is even more beautiful in spring and summer when the trees are all in bloom. This photo was taken in winter, and that white stuff you see on top of the mountains (look real close) is snow!

Earlier this spring, my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew came to visit, and I got to see them for the first time in two years. Visits are always hard on me, and it broke my heart that I could only spend a few short minutes with them each morning. However, I was so grateful even for that time, as it was such a joy to see their smiling faces every day.

My niece and nephew had grown so much, and I absolutely adore them both. I wanted so much to play with them, to go on adventures with them, to interact and talk and catch up and just get to really know them. I wanted to tell them what a fantastic and super cool aunt I would be if my circumstances were just a little bit different. But, my circumstances ar what they are, and we all made the best of it. I hope I was somehow able to convey how much they mean to me through my silent expressions of joy upon seeing them, and my little whispers and words of affection.

Here's a small collage of photos showing some of their various adventures while they were visiting (all photos courtesy of my brother):

While I was unable to participate, I loved hearing the stories and knowing they were having a good time.

In the last few months, I also became a godmother twice-over. I am already the proud godmother to my nephew, and I am now also godmother to the youngest daughter of my best friend from college. I wasn't able to go to the ceremony, of course, but I was there in spirit, and am privileged and honored to hold the title to such a sweet little baby girl.

Jim and I are still doing very well in terms of our relationship (not so much in terms of our health). I am in continued awe and gratitude to be blessed with such an amazing man as my fiance. I only wish we were healthier, and we could see each other more often.

This past spring made 8 years since we've been writing each other every day. For our anniversary, Jim printed out all our email correspondences from the first month we began writing (back in 2003), and placed them all in a beautiful album for me. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift, and one I will always cherish.

Speaking of my health, things have been very difficult. Sometimes I prefer not to go into the details because I simply don't want to relive the physical pain of it all over again. This illness is so brutal and so utterly pervasive; there is not a single second of any day that it doesn't dominate or alter in some way. That's why these little moments of escape are so lovely, and so necessary. And that's why I am so grateful every day for their brief but welcomed grace.


  1. So glad that you were able to visit with your family, and that the plants and wildlife have been making a nice show for you! It's always wonderful to read your updates, and follow your tweets. I hope that tomorrow is better than today! *hugs*

    p.s. with the long weekend, i will finally upload pictures of our Alaska trip to my blog! today or tomorrow!

  2. Wow, you have such an amazing array of creatures that pass by your window. I'm glad that you are able to appreciate them despite being so sick.

    And it's nice that you got to see family too. It can be so difficult when you want to do so much more with them. My neice and nephew are 6 and 7 now and when I see them I always push and crash depite it's mostly playing with them doing restful activities.

    I so wish your life was a little easier. What a cruel disease this is - especially for those who are constantly bed-bound.

    Even with a moderate case of M.E. I know so well.

    And I know exactly what you mean by learning not to always be "doing something"....I think it's one of the gifts this illness can give us. Especially those of us who were so "busy" before.

  3. Laurel,

    Your ability to persevere and continued effort to look at the bright side of this illness is astonishing and inspiring. You are truly a bright light in the ME community.

  4. Thank you for sharing all those beautiful pictures, Laurel! I know nature and music are the true eternally beautiful miracles in life that always give us peace.

    Almost more important is what I read between the lines. It's the story of a very brave woman, defying the most difficult circumstances. But I also feel the sadness, despair and loneliness, the pain of waiting so long for something that stubbornly refuses to come true. If we all knew it would come one day it would be so much easier to wait, wouldn't it?

    I wish you many of those little moments of grace, but most of all that the big changes will come. And come soon!

    Much love, as always,

  5. Beautiful blog, and lovely photos Laurel. You are still absolutely making a difference in the world. x

  6. Laurel,

    What a beautiful and inspiring post! I love the wildlife pictures. So glad you get to "escape" every now and then. Your video just makes me cry because it's so sad that people have to live with this illness, but you manage to find the positive and I love that.

    I am putting a book together about people with chronic illnesses and I would love to include your story. If you are interested, please email me at The submissions guidelines are on my blog (6/29 and 6/30) at

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful wildlife. It's so peaceful to step back for awhile and just watch life go by.


  7. i am so glad i found your blog - better late than never. i am finding it difficult to "join" an me/cfs community when the infighting is so ugly. this disease is all about ugly - both body and mind (esp. body on those days i can't shower - yeuuch), so there's really no need for people to argue. we all know what it is, and what pharma and the ins companies are doing to keep it underground - we need to bring the light, and blogs like this one help in the fight. it is incredibly uplifting to read your writing - you find so much to be appreciated from your bedroom, and are a budding photographer. i hope the writing and pics help you as much to do as they help me to read and see. thank you for sharing - shelley

  8. Laurel, your post reminds me of this:

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness; but still will
    Keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

    (Yes, I have a thing for Keats.)

    I pray that health will come to you in your waking life, not just the sleep Keats writes about. And I'm so glad the beauty around you sustains you sometimes -- the photographs are so lovely! I wish I could say I was as sensitive and brave as you are.

    (And I hope that quoting poetry isn't unbearably pretentious.)

    As froufox says, you make a difference in this world.


  9. Laurel - You have been on my mind so much lately. I have only been where I am for less than a year and some days I just want to scream. It is so constrictive. And I can get out of my bed.

    I'm so glad that you have wonderful 'friends' who grace your day and offer you something else to focus on. It's almost like you have Wild Animal Planet right outside your window!

    I wish I had the perfect words to easy the difficult of this ilness on you and your life but I don't.

    Know I think of you often, pray for you and am sending you much love and hugs.

    P.S. Thanks for the work of encouragement you sent me recently! (smile)

  10. you are a beautiful writer. -- rivka

  11. Love the photos. I agree with you that it is a chipmunk although his tail is a bit bushier than normal but the stripe on the body is definitely unsquirrel like.

    Jim sounds wonderful! What a great present.

    I know what you mean about having to keep still. Every time I'm feeling just a little better I can't resist and do something I shouldn't and end up back in bed/on the couch. I miss moving my body around. It is so aggravating!! I could just scream some times.

  12. Dear Laurel, thank you for the profound wisdom. I'v learned to live with the restrictions for the last eleven years of my live. Trying to live life at my fullest, even when it meant that I had to be in 'solitudine' for many hours a day and life slowly was stolen away. I've learned a lot and except from the pain I can't get used to, you taught me an awful lot more the last year. Every blog you post is a lesson. Besides the fact that you are a beautiful writer, you are my spirital teacher. Thank you!


  13. Laurel,
    Thanks so much for your perseverence, your courage and your wonderful approach to a very devastating illness. I've been very blessed by your words and perspective on your life.

    I'm so glad that you have a window that brings the outdoors to you, and how wonderful that you've managed to capture a menagarie of critters on your camera.

    with hugs and love, Snez :)

  14. Thank you Laurel for sharing a bit of your life. Shared on Facebook!

    Mike Turris

  15. Thank you for the pictures and words Laurel. As I find my own circumstances dramatically improving in ways I hardly dared to believe could really happen, I sincerely hope you will find the same.

    Hold on tight to that light which fills each of your posts and hold on tight to those who love you, and you'll have a treasure many seek their whole lives and never find. These illnesses are so crazy like that - we lose so much, but if we look hard enough there is much to be found which many never see.

    Big, gentle hugs - Lisa :)

  16. Laurel,
    It's always an encouragement to read your blog... thank you for spending the time and energy to post when you can...

  17. When I last commented I totally forgot to say I thought Jim's gift was soooooooo romantic. He is quite the guy! Lucky You!

    I'm so glad you both found each other, Laurel.

  18. Just wondering what state you live in its really pretty? If you can divulge without violating your privacy.

    I too enjoy window watching. I used to live out West which I enjoyed much more than the bustling smoggy East Coast where I live now. Someday I will be able to move back to a pretty mountainous area and I will be able to window watch there too.

    thanks for sharing your story and helping to brighten other people's day too.

  19. Such a beautifully written post. I can relate to so much to needing to find those little moments to be grateful for (I have CRPS). The last few days have been particularly tough, this post just helped to remind me to get my focus back on track before down days turn into depression - Thank You. I am terribly sorry to read that you're experiencing new medical problems. Wishing you much strength xx

  20. Laurel, thank you so much for documenting that love endures and there's much to live for despite this illness.

  21. Beautifully written and beautifully shared!

    What treasures we are privy to in the midst of such terrible isolation. May healing be yours, but the knowledge of such treasures never be lost.

    Thank you for giving me what I needed today - far more than I can express.


  22. hi laurel
    i've passed on an award to you : ) visit my blog when you can to see.
    cheryl xx

  23. Laurel, I came across your Blog after seeing the beautiful award you just received. I read your story, and of course began to tear up, then I realized that's not what someone like you would want. Without meeting you, just reading your beautiful blog, your gorgeous photos, and your story about your illness, I realized you are probably one of the most full of life young women, I've ever heard of. You are such an inspiration of each one of us, no matter what life has dealt us, we could all learn from you and your beautiful spirit. As I was feeling a little down today about some personal issues with me, after reading your story, I felt very foolish and ashamed. My prayers and hope for you and that a cure is found, and found soon. You my new friend, are one very special human being, and I have totally enjoyed reading your Blog and looking at your beautiful pictures.

    God Bless You.

    Desert Dreaming

  24. Oh extraordinary (((Laurel)))

    You do make such a difference in people's lives, including mine! You are a treasure on earth. Your very essence permeates out and brings blessings, love, and healing to the world!

    And plants obviously love you! That is more than I can say for myself!!


  25. Beautiful!
    You are a source of inspiration and hope to all of us, Laurel. Looking forward to your next post.

  26. You are all too sweet! Thank you for all the beautiful and kind comments, as always.