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July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020

 

 

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It’s going to be a long night.

The 4th of July is a loaded holiday at the time of this writing. It has never been one that I particularly care for. I find many holidays in general commercialized and steeped in stories and myth. The stories around holidays tend to have a kernel of truth that then becomes the common narrative in the cultural lexicon and serves to uphold dominant cultural norms and hierarchies.

 

Right now, America is at the tipping point with race relations. The murder of George Floyd in late May 2020 by a police officer that killed him in cold blood in a choke hold while three other officers watched was the spark that lit a fire in America.

 

All over the world, people are marching against the various ways oppression has shown up via colonization, slavery and other acts of violence from dominant empire culture.

 

Here in America, sadly people are extremely divided over race. There is great resistance to everything from removing symbols of the Confederacy to having conversations about equity and repairing the harm done to those of African descent.

At the same time this is going on, America has seen a sharp upturn in the Coronavirus which according to various reports, has been here awhile.

There is a divide that tends to fall along similar lines as the racial divide over various state’s imposing restrictions/lifting restrictions/masks/no masks.

It is maddening. 

It is sucking the life out of everyone.

 

In the meantime, our family has had concerns about my mother with her three autoimmune disorders and related challenges living safely in her three story, verging on decrepit home. This concern has been a topic of conversation and contention in our family for a couple years.

Since the pandemic, my mother has come over here a handful of times to meet us outside when the weather was conducive. Lately she had declined invitations due to pain that was increasingly becoming debilitating. 

On Father’s Day, as we were leaving the playground where we met with my son Johnny, his wife Megan and our two adorable grandsons, my mom called.

She asked me to take her to the emergency room when I “had the time.”

I came right over. She was in so much pain that it took us 20 minutes to walk from the living room to the car.

I took her to the emergency room with her giant purse and another bag.

I wasn’t allowed into the ER due to the Coronavirus. I had to leave her with an attendant who met us in the parking lot with a wheelchair.

My heart broke a little bit when I saw him bring her into what is typically the space inbetween the automatic doors and the lobby to have her temperature checked and other coronavirus protocols. 

I waited for her call praying that she wouldn’t get sent home with pain medication. 

She called later in the night saying there was a fracture in her lumbar spine.

She was not a candidate for surgery so rehab was in order. 

By some stroke of luck, we were able to get her admitted into Arbutus Park Manor where she retired as the Director of Nursing. 

People are loving her there.

For a short time, I had an enormous sense of relief.

My sister Heather and I met at the house to gather papers which were everywhere with no obvious sense of rhyme or reason as well as more clothes than I have ever seen anyone own.

We both agreed that it would be a disaster for her to return home.

 

Here I am two weeks later, helping to prepare her home for her return which is what she desires.

This is a huge undertaking.

I have had several trips back to my childhood home barely over a mile from my house since her rehab.

The first time with my sister Heather wasn’t so bad.

The second time with my friend Kimberly who is doing some serious cleaning and organizing was okay.

I can recognize my anxiety rising with the chaos, clutter and disorganization there.

The third time I went by myself arriving before my husband John, I had a panic attack. Memories came flooding back. I sensed a presence in the house that was ominous and all consuming. 

I have been hurt so often in that house.

I have participated in screaming arguments, throwing and breaking things as well in that house.

I had hopes and dreams in that house.

I had enormous suffering in that house.

 

I had to go and stand out on the back porch until John arrived.

 

The conversations and communication with my mom surrounding all this is challenging.

My aunt invited me to be less direct and more diplomatic with my mother.

I recognize that I can bring more kindness into the dialogue.

However, I have to be direct. I had to learn honesty and direct communication because I sure as shit didn’t learn it growing up surrounded with cognitive dissonance.

I can’t go back to guessing what people think and feel if they aren’t willing to directly communicate that to me, that is on them. I will bear responsibility for my own communication. 

I am carrying the tension of this in my body despite eight yoga classes a week with deep stretching and breathing and twice daily meditation. 

I saw my massage therapist last week and she recommended a chiropractor.

I saw him this week.

Little bits of relief, but I am carrying some heavy loads.

 

Today, on the Fourth of July, which carries its own dissonance and tone deafness to liberty and equality for all, I tended to myself.

After my Zoom yoga class with lovely beings, I set an intention for a lovely day of reading, writing and listening to Saxsquatch on a Live Stream.

Yes, Saxsquatch. This is a kick ass saxophone player that does his own mixes and plays these exquisite saxophone solos over his mixes.

This includes to my utter delight, the infamous saxophone solo from “Careless Whisper”. 

So, in the scorching heat, on the shade of my porch which is a big ass winding around the Victorian House Porch, I sat to enjoy these delights.

I am exactly 15-20 minutes into the sheer enjoyment that is Saxsquatch when out of seemingly nowhere two giant pit bulls snarling and barking speed up the porch steps off to my right. I freeze hoping they don’t see me and turn around and run down the steps.

Alas, they do and my presence brings them into high alert. One runs back and forth in front of me, the other snarls and makes mini lunges threatening towards me. 

I know that screaming will not help me. I speak sternly at them to GO HOME.

This makes the running dog jump off the porch, but this dog comes back on the porch and both dogs are now snarling at me.

I don’t know what made them suddenly turn and run.

Was it my husband who heard this and came from the kitchen out to the porch?

Was it me emphatically telling them to GO AWAY! GO HOME!

 I kind of doubt that as they didn’t initially respond to me.

They left. Running fast and together up the side street.

One of them shit on my porch.

 My happy place.

My husband, after ensuring I was okay, went after the dogs.

He used to work in animal control in rural Texas and wrangle bulls. He could handle a couple of pit bulls.

 

My nervous system was shot.

We made dinner.

I cut fresh Swiss Chard and green onions from the garden and sautéed them in olive oil and garlic.

 I felt a bit more integrated but kept looking out the windows for these dogs.

We had tentatively made plans to get away from our house this evening due to the prevalence of fireworks going off everywhere and triggering my daughter Riley with her sensitivity to loud noise.

 

I realized I was incapable of socialization at this point.

I needed solitude.

I declined the outing.

 

I let myself lay on the yoga mat I have been spending so much time on since March 15.

I lay there and my body just melted,

 

Tears flowed without sobbing.

I lay there and my eyes leaked and leaked.

My body began to release grief.

 

The grief of the unknowing future of how this virus will land and eventually taper off and the unknowable cost.

The grief of seeing countless people I know resist showing up to do the work of racial healing and address racial injustice. 

The grief of the silence of many white people, of faith communities, of yoga practitioners.

The grief of the challenging family dynamics.

The grief of all that is unnamed but lives in my body.

 

I let it all go until I lay there exhausted but willing to move forward with an open heart.

 

ABOUT AUTHOR

Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen, B.A. Political Science/Sociology, is a Certified Music Practitioner, Sound Healer, Reiki Master, and Registered Yoga Teacher with a trauma informed/social justice framework. She has 20 years experience of working with some of the most amazing people on the planet; hospice patients and their families, patients in a variety of health conditions, survivors of sexual abuse, adults with mental illness and most recently, incarcerated women. Rachel is also passionate about supporting and working with caregivers to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue. Locally, Rachel teaches Creative Movement at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. Regionally and nationally, she teaches and presents at conferences and retreats, weaving live music, yoga, and creative movement into themes of compassion, self acceptance, and transformation. Rachel is committed to engaging people from all walks of life in the healing arts to create healthy, diverse, and joyful communities.