A Place

Author Abigail Thomas
sat in a dog park
in New York City
when she wrote,
“This is the place
I try to make
sense of things, order them,
to tame what has happened.”
What had happened was her husband Rich
had been hit by a car,
suffering massive head injuries.
For weeks on end she shuffled back and forth
between their apartment and the hospital
where he lay, often unconscious,
and if he was conscious,
he was no longer his old self.
Her writing is entitled
“The Day the World Split Open.”
One way she dealt with that split-open world
was to find a place
where she could regularly sit.
There she would look around,
look within, and mull over—
in her words, “to tame what happened.”

I believe Abigail Thomas offers us
a wise and useful example.
I believe there is real value
in our having a place, as caregivers,
where we can spend time
pondering things, ordering things,
taming this experience of ours.
Our purpose in doing this is not at all
to run from our caregiving responsibilities,
but to find ways to assimilate
what has happened and is happening,
so we can rededicate ourselves to our work.
There is something about having
a particular place to do this
that gives this practice of ours its priority,
its day-to-day importance.
Abigail found a bench in a park.
Maybe we’ll seek out a soft chair
in a coffee shop,
or a wooden pew in a sanctuary,
or a weather-worn chair in the backyard.
Maybe we’ll walk a wooded path,
or jog a prescribed route,
or do some sort of handwork
in a room that feels just right.
Perhaps we’ll just find our way
to a favorite spot on earth
to watch and listen, or write,
or close our eyes in quiet reflection.
When we can claim such a place,
it steadily calls to us wherever we are.
It welcomes us at the right time.
Our place encourages us to do
what it is we need to do:
to make sense of our experience,
to order things,
to tame what has happened,
and what continues to happen.
May you know such a place.
And if you don’t have one yet,
may you find one.

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One Response to “A Place”

  1. Susan Says:

    Oh I wish I had a “place”, right now, mine is the kitchen table but I am praying for a nice little nook somewhere. I also wish I had what you spoke of in your last post, people to consult with. I care for a non family member whose nephew was kind enough to set this up for her (live in care in her home) but they are minimally involved, and any help comes out of my pocket. Beside my husband there is hardly anyone to consult with. I am so glad I have God to talk to!

    Re: your Decision post, I was thinking you could even go to one a week if it gets too trying – just please don’t dissappear! I need you. Thanks, Susan

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