I've spent the last twenty days in perpetual motion on an emotional roller coaster, culminating in an overgrowth of Crepe Myrtle roots totally blocking the sewer line that carries the water ( and whatever may be in that water) away from our house.
I had a slight epiphany about a week ago. I used Shannon's bathroom and when I reached for the toilet paper, I discovered the roll was empty. I reached for the pretty little box of Scottie's tissues... the box with teddy bears and grapevine wreaths and assorted clay pots of wildflowers, also empty. I opened the door to the vanity and although lots of things fell out, nothing that could satisfactorily meet the need, although I did ponder for a minute more than I care to admit, how to utilize the abundance of Q-tips!
Now I know this is not a subject that is comfortably discussed in polite company but who hasn't found themselves in this situation at least once, perhaps sheepishly whispering to the lady in the next stall in the Ladie's room at Macy's to pass a square or two beneath the divider? Toilet paper is one of those things that we take for granted... until we don't have any.
I sat there for a while looking at the celestial bodies painted on the evening blue walls, the needlepoint of the Earth, the towel rack that Erica's Mom made for Shannon when she was a little girl, and I wondered if Shannon was giggling at my dilemma. Finally in desperation I focused on the smiling face and bald head of Mr. Clean. I picked up the blue plastic dispenser and read the label..."Mr. Clean disinfecting wipes". "75 premoistened wipes, Fresh Scent". I read the warnings and the ingredients and wondered if the person who insisted that the label include, "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling," even considered the possibility that I was considering.
It wasn't all that bad, really. Tingly and cold but Mr. Clean managed to save the day once again. I dropped the square into the commode and flushed. For a fleeting moment I worried that they might not be flushable, but as it disappeared into the unknown, I let the worry follow.
That evening I attended a meeting in Richmond. The bathroom had four rolls of toilet paper. Three rolls of the industrial stuff... the kind that looks and feels like it is made of recycled newsprint... and one roll of white tissue, with rosebuds quilted into the three ply softness. Once again, I thought about how much I take for granted. I thought about all of the toilet papers on the market. Charmin, Cottonelle, Angel Soft, Seventh Generation, Quilted Northern and Coronet, just to name a few. They are scented, quilted, two ply, three ply, quick dissolve and aloe infused. They come in both ultra strong and ultra soft and now Charmin even adds "Just a touch of lotion." I flashed on the scene from Dances With Wolves where the two infantry men are squatting in a field, tearing and sharing pages from Kevin Costner's journal.
Okay, so Sunday morning, Jules was taking a shower before work. We had invited friends for dinner and I was already stressing about getting everything done, when, as I started down the stairs, I saw all four cats running from the downstairs bathroom like children caught in the act of being naughty. Flowing softly at their heels was the hot soapy water from Jules shower. I was horrified to find the commode flowing like Mt. Vesuvius. I grabbed towels and the plunger and said a silent prayer of gratitude that hot soapy water that smelled like Dial soap was all that was flowing from the great unknown.
Through it all, I have had the same nagging question... is this all because of that one Mr. Clean disposable wipe being used in a manner inconsistent with its labeling?
Twenty days ago, I attended a funeral. A mocking bird sat in the top of a nearby tree and sang an amazing song that helped to ease our hearts... we knew he was singing to assure us that Neil had arrived safely and was happy. The days that followed brought all of my own feelings of sadness back to the surface. I cried some. I yelled some. I found fault with everything that seemed even moderately out of order. Laura continues to improve. Betty Jo and I have had some wonderful photography adventures. The invitations are mailed. Mom is okay even after the numerous doctor visits and tests. I finally finished Unit Five in the never ending photography course and Jules got home from safely from Atlanta. John's tour of duty with the United States Navy is complete. Michael is in Afghanistan. Our babies are precious and their Moms are amazing. There is so much to be grateful for.
I'm not sure why I haven't been able to write.... and then finally return because of my TP epiphany, but in one month, Shannon's journal begins again, and I, in turn, feel like I can breathe again, that she is waiting to remind me of the memories, and I can once again share them with you. It feels really good.
Twelve years have passed so quickly... and yet it seems an eternity since I laughed with Shannon and wrapped my arms around her. It's easy to get lost in looking back... or looking forward. The challenge is to find a way to immerse yourself in the moment. I keep trying to lean into perfection only to find myself falling into reality. Maybe that old commercial.... the one where the little child is learning to roller skate and has taped rolls of soft quilted toilet paper to her knees and hiney and elbows, to soften the falls, had a deeper lesson to impart.... I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but I certainly hope I've learned it.
I hope that all the plunging and digging and sweating and mopping and disinfecting have been adequate penance for my inconsistent use of disinfectant wipes... but I promise you this.... I will never take the little things, like tissue, flushing, bathing, laundry or washing dishes for granted again. God may get tired of hearing from me, but I am truly thankful... for everything.