Picking Up The Pieces

Near the Puget Sound, where I live, snow seldom falls.  On those rare occasions that cold, white precipitation makes an appearance, accumulation is generally less than two inches.  A few weeks ago, however, things changed.  It snowed, and snowed, and snowed some more.  We had a record-breaking TEN inches overnight, and the snow continued to fall.  It was beautiful!

The interesting thing about living where there is very little snow is that very few cities or counties own snowplows because it’s difficult to justify the expense. On those rare occasions that snow falls, everything comes to a grinding halt. My schedule instantly emptied. Swimming lessons were cancelled. Violin lessons were cancelled. Piano lessons were cancelled. Drum lessons were cancelled. The dishwasher installer phoned to say he couldn’t make it. The streets were impassable, and we enjoyed a peaceful week at home without having to drive anywhere. I loved it.


Not everything was perfect, though.  There’s a huge maple tree in my yard:

A few days after the snowstorm, we got hit with an ice storm.  Freezing rain coated everything.

I’d never seen anything like it.  Never heard anything like it, either.  It was too much for the trees.  All around, it sounded like gunshots as limbs succumbed to the cold and ice, snapping and plummeting to the ground.

The ground shook as our beloved maple lost its battle with the ice.

As we’ve been cleaning up the debris, I’ve been thinking that this storm was a little like receiving an RA diagnosis.  Storms can’t be prevented, and neither can RA.  Suddenly your entire world has changed, and there isn’t a thing you can do about it.  We just deal with the storms in our lives, and pick up the pieces so we can move on.

My poor maple tree.  On hot summer days, I’ll miss the shade.  My kids will miss their tire swing.  There’s no point in mourning forever, though.  We could pile everything in a heap and have a big bonfire, but then all we’d have left is a pile of ashes.  What a waste.  Instead, the smaller branches have all been carefully stacked; we’ll use them to heat the pool this summer.  My daughter will turn some of the wood on our lathe, and make beautiful pens – which she hopes to sell to fund a missions trip she wants to take this summer.  The larger limbs have been set aside to season, and will become beautiful salad bowls.  We’ll try to take a disaster and make something beautiful out of it.

I want that in my life, too.  A chronic diagnosis can seem like a disaster.  Maybe there’s a way, though, to pick up the pieces and turn them into something good.


7 thoughts on “Picking Up The Pieces

  1. Thank you for your comment on my blog! I was just reading about your storm in the Northwest! We are from the Seattle area and both my family and my husband’s are still there. We are in Colorado now and love it, but Seattle will always be home…

    I’m so sorry to hear about your RA. My husband actually works for a company that treats severe RA. Their product is called Actemra, and is an injection for IV infusion. Have you heard of it? It has done miraculous things for people with severe RA.

    Glad that you were able to use the storm as an analogy for life. I honestly think that there is a deeper correlation to everything that we experience in life and can illustrate amazing spiritual truths.

    Thanks for reading my blog. I actually just published a book (my first!) and received the first copy just yesterday! It’s called HANDled – handled, held and led by the hand of God. This is a new adventure for me and actually a little frightening. It should be available for purchase in the next couple of weeks through Amazon and Westbowpress.com.

    I hope that you have a good day and that your pain and any rash are at a minimum. In fact, I’ll be praying for you today. Maybe one day we can meet on one of my trips to Seattle!

    Jana Jarvis

    • Hi Jana:
      Congratulations on the book. How exciting! Will it be available for Kindle? I’d love to read it. The writing on your blog is fabulous.

      Yes, I’ve heard of Actemra; I’ve been invited to a few patient round-tables, in fact. Unfortunately, the timing has never worked for me. I’m on my third TNF-inhibitor. If this one fails my rheumy will go to a different class of drug, so it’s possible that Actemra is in my future.

      Thank you for your prayers. Much appreciated.

      We could get together sometime when you’re up to visit. That would be fun. We were in the same graduating class – think chem-phys 🙂

  2. Beautiful post. I have many friends in Seattle and worried with them through the storm. Like Seattle, Dallas doesn’t get a lot of snow — but we always get ice. Last year we got both. And like Seattle, things come to a grinding halt and tree limbs come down (usually on power lines). You’re so right. Things happen. We just have to do the best we can with the outcome and move forward. Thanks for the wonderful thoughts and amazing pictures.

    • My son’s planning to go to college in Texas, so I’m guessing that I’ll be a lot more attentive to the weather down there. Ice storms are awful!

      We were only out of power for three days. I put a huge pot of chili on top of the wood stove; we were warm and had plenty of hot food to eat (note for the future: chili is not a good choice of food for people who are all trapped together in a single room). I feel bad for people who don’t have a source of heat when the power is out, and no way to cook anything.

  3. I love the way a good snowstorm stops the world for a while, even when it interferes with plans and responsibilities. Once I’ve accepted that we’re not going anywhere, I can relax. It’s out of my plans. And then comes the beauty of it: the amazing, peaceful silence of the snowfall, the quiet crackle of the fire in the woodstove, the gradual reduction of the chaotic details of the world into a blanket of white accented and picked out in black, their sharp contrast made soft.

    I loved reading about your snow week. We’ve gotten no snow at all at my home in the mountains, and of course none here in the foothills with my mom. It’s a little bit nuts, but I miss it.

    As for the ice storm: I experienced the start of one while driving from Tacoma south to California, many years ago. The world froze minutes before I started across the bridge over the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon, in Portland. As slow as everyone was going, lots of people’s cars were slipping and sliding all over that bridge. It was one of the scariest moments I’ve experienced in my life–and one of the most memorable. Obviously I made it over the long bridge and, eventually home, but wow. Just wow. I’m sorry you lost your beloved maple tree, but glad with you that it will live on as beautiful and useful objects, made with care.

    Be well, Socks. You’ve been in my thoughts.

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