Living with uncertainty might be good for my faith, but it’s terrible for my health.
I’ve written before about my ill health on this long journey of mine. Generally I have about a week of dubious health whenever I move to a new location. But once I get into the swing of things my health usually improves.
With Pennsylvania it was the opposite. Except for a bit of fatigue when I first arrived, I had great health for the first four weeks. Then the last two weeks I was hit with something I couldn’t quite shake.
At first it didn’t matter so much. My work was flexible. But as the days passed and I couldn’t shake it, I began to fear that it would spoil my fun-and-family-filled final week.
See, when my brother Ben heard that I was going to the REACH conference, he looked at his schedule and decided that he’d be able to come as well. It would be a chance to see both me and his buddy Daniel who also lives in Lancaster. And he thought the conference looked interesting.
Then my sister Amy decided to come too. Her schedule wasn’t as flexible as Ben’s, since he’s in grad school and she’s an undergrad, but it was her winter term final’s week and all her finals were either at the beginning of the week or were take-home finals.
Then my parents decided to come too. They were going to be in Lancaster the weekend before REACH, because they were taking counselor training. So they decided to just stay an extra week in the area. Maybe Mom and I could do some book signings together!
With my brother Matt and his girlfriend Phoebe a quick hop skip and jump away in Washington DC, I was going to see the majority of my family.
Just so long as I could stay healthy.
My parents were super busy the weekend they arrived, but on Saturday we were supposed to get together and visit some of Dad’s Mom’s relatives. But when I woke up that morning I felt awful. Sore throat, headache, and I was so tired I could barely stay awake long enough to tell them I couldn’t make it. Then I went back to sleep and slept until 4 pm.
Sunday I felt better. I met my parents at church, and after the service we set off on the winding southern Pennsylvania roads, heading to Washington DC.
To be honest, this overnight stay in DC was really more about family than sightseeing. With REACH coming up, the last thing I wanted to do was overdo it and have my health crash again.
The only sightseeing thing I did was tour Phoebe’s boardinghouse, which she jokingly calls “The Baptist Convent.” The true name is Thomas Markward Hall, and it’s a female-only boardinghouse. Walking into it feels like walking into an old novel. Wide spaces. Fancy couches. Old pictures in gilded frames. A library full of old books. No men allowed above the ground floor.
Despite my valiant attempt to take it easy on our short jaunt to DC, my health crashed again on Tuesday. Mom and I were supposed to have a book signing at 2 pm, and she’d mailed a lot of books to my Myerstown address in advance. It was all I could do to make myself presentable, haul the books to the car, and drive them to my parent’s Airbnb. I had no strength to go to the book signing.
Later, Mom said I didn’t miss much. Barely anyone showed up.
Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Amy wasn’t doing so well.
Her temperature had skyrocketed, and she felt awful. She went to class and finished her finals, wearing a face mask so she wouldn’t infect anyone, and slept the rest of the time. Finally, she went to the doctor, where she was told she had influenza and would be contagious until Friday.
So at the last minute, she decided not to come after all.
My dreams of a perfect REACH were beginning to dim. For four years, I had hoped and dreamed of coming. And then, for a while, everything was working out perfectly. My parents, and Ben, and Amy, all able to come too! Book signings! Trips to DC!
But illness always has a way of reminding me that in the end, I cannot control my life. And I have to be okay with that.
Thankfully, I was feeling better by Wednesday morning. I drove back up to Myerstown, took my car to the mechanic for an oil change, and then went back to my Myerstown house and officially moved out. I packed everything up once again and shoved it into my car.
Ben arrived, sans Amy. We all hung out with my cousin Annette that evening, because it was March 20, which would have been her brother Lenny’s 36’th birthday. We released balloons in his memory. All of us except for Annette’s daughter Liberty, who clung to her pretty purple balloon. I mean, why would you get rid of something pretty when you could keep it instead?
I went to bed super early that night.
Maybe my health wouldn’t crash again. Maybe I’d find the strength to get my money’s worth out of the REACH conference. Since I’m no longer a student, I didn’t buy student tickets, and it felt like a lot of money to me.
And the next two days, the REACH conference days, were…well…eventful. In both good and bad and overwhelming ways.
But for that story, you’ll have to return for my next blog post.
P.S. I’m not intentionally trying to make everyone mad with curiosity, it’s just WAY too much story for one blog post. LOL.