January, for me, is a month of rest and quiet days. With a slow daily routine, getting up, getting the kids to school and kindergarden, feeding the cats and the chickens and collecting eggs, doing a bit of work on the computer, shooting an elopement here and there, and allowing myself time to just 'be' and making sure I get to bed early. Long morning walks with my camera on those few clear frosty days, and warming up in front of the fire afterwards. Another great pleasure this time of year, when I feel spring approaching but there is nothing really "fresh" to eat yet, is to pull some of the frozen berries and fruit collected the summer before and make jam. Last summer was incredibly busy (I have promised myself it would be the last of those, and have made loads of adjustments and decisions throughout autumn and winter to make sure I stick to that intention). I did not have the time to collect and freeze as much of our produce as I wanted to, but I do have a few nice bags of strawberries and blackberries. It is incredible to get that punchy sweet taste of fresh berries, that incredible deep colour, and the whole house smells fantastic as it bubbles away on the stove.
The very last week of January was dominated by a horrible accident that ended with a miraculous recovery and left us incredibly thankful. Our son Emil fell through the floor in our barn and landed on the concrete below sustaining a bad injury on his head and back. It is difficult to explain what I felt and thought that day. It already feels like it was months ago, and not just a week. As I sat strapped to my cold plastic seat in the dark military helicoptor that flew him and me to the hospital on the mainland, watching the doctors work and save him from choking on his own vommit time after time, my head was empty and my stomach was one big knot. My father who lives on the mainland drove in to meet us just after we landed. I spent most of that night watching over Emil, sending texts every step of the way to my husband who stayed home with our daughter. Very late in the evening we were finally sent to get him scanned because he kept throwing up. But he kept moving so much because of his pains that what should have been a quick 10 minute thing dragged out in what seemed like forever. When we finally got back to the room, I lay awake feeling so nauseous and tired, holding his hand, I kept thinking it will be alright, it will be alright, but all the while there was this little 2% of me that kept replying, but what if its not, what if you need to stay away for the rest of the night while they have to operate. Life offers us no guarantees. my mind also kept coming back to a few of my girlfriends who have spent way too many days and nights with their children in a room just like that, worrying.
I still don't understand how all of this physically did not turn out worse than it did, but as it turned out it was only a concussion, a bruised back and a small fracture in his skull. Right now he is sitting on the floor here right next to me, drawing Ninja Turtles, and my only "worry" is keeping him still, so his head can rest and heal. I have always known this beautiful active boy would challenge me; he has been hurt before and this probably also won't be our last visit to a hospital. For many years when I was younger my life seemed out of my control, so many things went horribly wrong, someone else in my family was calling the shots for all of us. So I spent a decade doing and being as 'correct' as I possibly could, following the rules, being a good girl, and never ever relaxed, always alert, always trying to make sure things went according to plan and everyone was kept out of harms way. Some days I believe my son was brought into my life to teach me definitively that nomatter how hard I try or how little I sleep, or how "on top of things" I stay, shit can still happen, I cannot control everything. We have to love, we have to do our best for ourselves and those around us, but in the end, our lives as well as our children are just on loan, not our posession or our right.
When people ask me about the whole thing with worried sympathetic faces the only thing I feel is utter relief and gratitude, and I can't help but smile, because I feel happy through and through. Of course it was one of the worst nights of my life, and it hurts deep in my heart that my boy had to experience such pain. But he is tough and I am very grateful for this lesson, this wake-up call. When something shakes me, I know I need to pay attention and I know there is always something to be learned, something good or even great that can come from what is seemingly a "bad" thing. My priorities where challenged and enforced, the steps I and we are already taking daily towards our family living a more healthy and connected life and me personally living a life more in tune with my core values, were emphasised in the most basic way. And for that I am thankful.