Friday, August 1, 2014
Alive - Part II
My guilty pleasure? Canning. Yes, I said canning: hot water baths, jars, and the smell of blanching tomatoes. You know, the thing you think of your grandma doing when you were a kid. I love canning. It's something that makes me tingle with excitement just thinking about it. It is something I do purely for my own enjoyment: it allows me to be creative and make something to share with others. Who doesn't love food? Especially food made with love?
My favorite time of year has begun: canning season. Just in the past couple of weeks, I have made Rhuby Red Jam [Cherry Rhubarb], Rhuberry Jam [Blueberry Rhubarb], and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto. To see my finished little jars of jam fills me with delight. What makes my heart swell with immense joy? When I get to share it with others and it brings them happiness.
This canning session I find myself reflecting on the past year. I seem to be doing a lot of this lately. As I made a run to the grocery store to gather all the supplies I would need for my next canning adventure, I found myself thinking about a year ago and how different I felt. I thought about how I never thought I'd feel the way I do today ever again. I vowed at that moment I would never take a mere trip to the grocery store for granted again. A year ago the simple thought of going to the grocery store exhausted me: it was so much work just to walk up and down the aisles and then to transport and unload the groceries. I remember last summer sitting in the grocery store parking lot and calculating how far it would be to get the bare necessities, and most time getting in the store and deciding to forgo much of my list for just one or two items so I could leave. It truly saddens me to think about. Thankfully, Mark did most of the grocery shopping, always asking what I wanted or needed.
It was a constant game of give and take with my body. I had no energy to do anything and I felt like a foreigner in my own body. It affected everything in my life: the relationships with my friends and family, with Mark, and the things I once found so much enjoyment in doing. It forced me to become more introverted and removed from the world: physically being forced to sit by and watch life pass me by even though mentally I was stronger than ever. I felt I had no control over what was happening to me.
I hardly did any canning last year. As the produce from our bountiful garden piled up, Mark so willingly took over the canning duties. He did all the canning for the remainder of the summer. I would sit at the table and watch as he worked: blanching tomatoes, cutting up peppers, onions, and herbs, and canning tomatoes, soup, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, and several types of salsa. He is so good to me.
This summer is different. I feel alive again. It's taken so long to get to this point, but I am so grateful. I feel like I am clutching onto my health so tightly right now: terrified of losing it. It is a reality that those days will come again. The days of exhaustion, rampant infection, PICC lines, and the progression of CF are inevitable. I am realistic about that, but today I am so thankful for energy, for being as healthy as I am, for trips to the grocery store, canning, time with friends and family, and feeling truly alive.
Today I am doing something that fills me with the utmost joy. I've made my trip to the store, gotten my jars ready, and explored some new recipes. There are 25 pounds of peaches on my counter waiting to be canned into something amazing. I hope to share that joy with all of you. Love to you all.
Take a trip to the grocery store today and enjoy every aisle.