Back as far as December, we looked at our calendar for May. We knew it was coming. We warned ourselves for months. May. May would be the death of us. Along with the usual events come the seasonal warm weather, I had a larger workload than I had ever seen. And then there was the 5th upper respiratory tract infection in a year. I have been sick more times in the last twelve months than I ever have ever been in my life.
Sickness means no playdates. Sickness means no gym. Sickness means fewer childcare options. Sickness means restless sleep. Those things I need to be functional.
There would be 5 weddings in 4 weeks. Many portrait sessions. The incredible opportunity to photograph a birth. Bryan needing to spend more time at the office. The garden asking to be planted. The grass grew so high that our elderly neighbor, who struggles to walk, finished mowing it for us. I shifted into autopilot. My shoulders grew tight, my jaws clenched. At the end of the month the cashier at the grocery store looked at me in earnest and said "I hope you have off tomorrow." Could he possibly know that in a few moments I was going to brush my teeth outside the store near the dumpster? Did I look that bad? I knew that I did. My eyes were bloodshot and my skin sallow. I confessed to Bryan that I was thinking of scaling back on work. Maybe it be best if I stop taking any new clients. He talked me off the ledge. We'll figure this out, he said. You've worked so hard for this, he said. You will not be on autopilot forever. You LOVE your job.
Here we are. The end of May. The long feared month came and went. As I tucked Lucinda in this evening, something outside her bedroom widow caught my eye. One of the peony bushes was in full and immaculate bloom. Dusky light falling on it perfectly.
No, I said to the bush.
No, I don't have time for you. I have too much work to do. You'll have to wait.
Wait till when? Next year? Till never? It was impossible that the peonies be any more beautiful than they were at this exact moment. Ephemeral Loveliness and I was asking it to wait. Truthfully, how could I have time for anything except the peonies?
Life on auto-pilot is no way to live.