Grief, Healing, Cabin

I wanted to thank each of you who reached out after my last round-up post. Some of you just thanked me for being transparent, and some of you offered a digital hug or an ear if I needed. Thank you so much for reaching out to check on me.

This weekend our family got out to the cabin. Those of you who know us personally will know what this means to us. We spent three years saving up for and caring for this cabin while our friends who built it were away. Unfortunately, our friendship with them ended tragically, and while we did everything in our power to repair things without compromising our safety or what we believed to be true and right, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

Drone view of the cabin from last fall, taken by the former owners

This means that finally returning for family time at the cabin has a lot of mixed emotions. There’s a lot of grief – for what our friends have been through, for our lost friendship and the circumstances around it. There’s also a lot of gratitude. I’m thankful for the time that we had to care for the cabin with someone else’s rules and needs in mind – it’s trained me to take better care of the place than I perhaps would otherwise. We are thankful for the skill and love that went into building this cabin, which is orders of magnitude more excellent and beautiful than we could ever have achieved on our own.

Also from last fall, taken by former owners

Now, we don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules, or care for anyone else’s stuff. So we’ve started changing a few things. Several things were removed, some a surprise and some not, so it was already different. We removed more personal items that were left behind, and have been bringing more of our own things out. Books that we weren’t getting around to reading at home, games to play together, tools and materials for projects, and textiles. I want to fill the place with textiles.

We bought these curtains years ago for a different purpose that didn’t end up working out, and I’ve held on to them. How immensely gratifying to discover they are the perfect size and shape to act as curtains in the sunroom to protect our books and games – the spines of most of the ones left here had become very sun-bleached. I made the cushion covers myself, a couple years ago, at the invitation of our friends. I plan to bring out several of the blankets and quilts that we don’t always have room to use at home.

Somehow the idea of making a rag rug evolved into place in my brain. I thought I was going to weave one, but after consultation with the Wool n’ Spinning weaving hivemind, and showing various techniques to Stringbean, we decided to make a braided rug. I cut up some sheets before we left, and some of the most precious moments while we were there were working on our rug together. She braids, I sew. I wonder how big we will make it?

Making our own mark on the cabin, and moving our former friends’ stuff out, I am also thanking the cabin for all it did for our friends. I’m thankful for all the wonderful times they had together out here, and that thankfulness is mixed up with the grief. And not a little guilt – not for our actions, which were according to our conscience, but that in the end we have this gorgeous cabin and our friends are gone. I don’t know that the flavor of grief will ever go away completely, and I’m OK with that. It will lead me to pray for them, wherever they are, and to be more mindful in our other friendships.

Current cabin project: repainting the deck.

It’s been a fragile season. Events in our family turned into a cascade, as we learned more about ourselves and our dysfunctions. Being a pastor’s family in a small town is no joke. Being a pastor’s wife – who is also a pastor – with mental health and/or brain difference issues – is also no joke. I would like to write more about that in future, but being in the thick of it, I’m not really able to collect my thoughts and present them in a way that feels safe.

3mm snowflakes were falling during our drive to the cabin.

But one thing that Kate Davies has said, in writing about her own experience, I resonated with strongly and can reflect upon: mental health issues ebb and flow. You go through seasons where you function differently than at other times. For me, there are seasons that are more outward facing, where I am high-functioning in a professional and organizational capacity – that was last fall. There are seasons where I am highly productive creatively, but distant emotionally – that was this winter. There are seasons where I am heightened emotionally, and experience more distress, but this also tends to more internal connection and growth – that has been this spring, so far. My environment affects me differently at different times, and my relational capacity shifts. I’m hesitant to put value judgments on these different seasons, because they each have different gifts and burdens.

I’m determined to keep my obligations. That ebb and flow can affect my interests as well, but I don’t want to be entirely at the mercy of these interior seasons. My heart is set on growing in how I contribute creatively to the world, and that means following through. Sometimes I can juggle all of the things, no problem. Sometimes, like now, I have to work really hard to make sure I have the capacity to do what needs to be done, and I still don’t always succeed. I am thankful when those I let down are gracious and understanding, and when they aren’t, I still have to forgive myself.

Growing up is weird. Growing as a person never stops, and is never predictable. Thank you for being here, for reading, and for sharing your stories in turn.

2 thoughts on “Grief, Healing, Cabin

  1. I can totally relate. Sometimes I can get through the emotional and mental challenges life hands me and sometimes the path through is way more difficult. Yes, it is hard growing up and changing.


  2. Thank you for sharing so honestly Rebecca. I’m 73 and most of the time still don’t feel like I have “grown up”. But I am learning and trying to be the best person I can be.
    The cabin is beautiful and in such an amazing location! Your rug braiding brings back good memories of my Mom…she learned to braid rugs from an elderly farmer’s wife who had retired to our little village. Mom made a beautiful large oval rug entirely from old clothing and other old textiles. Sadly it is long gone, but was worn out, so was put to good use. I think at that time we didn’t appreciate or cherish handmade craft as we do now.


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