I grew up in a small cabin built by none other than my parents themselves. They had help here and there, but Dad drew up the blueprint, we moved hundreds of miles away, and they got to work. The home has yet to match the blueprint, but that's no surprise considering that a work of art is never fully finished—just as our lives will never fully finish.

 

I can remember using kerosene lamps for light, washing and drying clothes outside, hand-pumping water, carrying loads of firewood in from the snow, and chinking between each hand-raised log.

 

Change was slow and beautiful and paced. And then, one day, it wasn't.

 

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About Shelby Hughes

2017 Shelby L. Hughes | Greensburg, PA | shelbyhugheswriter@gmail.com

I Know You Feel Alone Sometimes

 

 

I know you feel alone sometimes, and I do too.

 

As the happiest moments fade into normalcy and the dreadful losses linger in the distances of my mind, I feel that word in all its isolation. It’s not a depressed kind of alone, where I cave into a state of woe is me in the world, but it’s an acute awareness that the life I once saw as protecting and sacred is threatening and vulnerable.

 

Children are born and placed into my care and its joyous and glorious work, but there are days when I feel like I’m not measuring up, and no amount of resources in the world can walk me through such life altering change.

 

 

 

I wonder what happened to the days of women gathering over canning beans or watching children play in the heat of the summer, chatting away as they did when I was a child.

 

I wonder why, in a community with neighbors, little efforts are made to be neighborly, to relax over burgers and sodas or help mend a fence or knock on a door and simply say hello.

 

I wonder if we are too busy or feel too connected to others we rarely see that we miss reaching into the lives of those we encounter frequently.

 

Where is the fellowship of gathering over meals to truly get to know one another instead of sitting in a room full of strangers on a weekly basis?

 

Why is there stigma placed on emotion, on feeling, and on being to the point that everyone feels uncomfortable talking about the deeper places of their lives?

 

When did we become so serious that we decided fellowship was no longer necessary.

 

I know that I’m not truly alone with children and a husband and a few good friends, and with God. Of course, God. But I expected more from adulthood. Less rush. More meaning. More understanding. More caring. Truly caring because the time was taken, and time given. More connection.

 

We feel like we have connection with such a large following of humanity, of distant and past and present friends, and we see glimpses into their life, but what do we really know about their life? Their daily? The pieces that make up who they are, not just what they do, not just the slivers of picture-perfect?

 

Maybe more meaning making could happen from the disconnection of so called connection, of this strange feeling that we have many when we have few developed, close, and meaningful relationships.

 

 

 

Maybe we need handwritten letters, a little time taken for the sake of just one friend.

 

Maybe we need to open our homes without cleaning our homes, to welcome people into the mess, and let them help clean the mess or just linger knowingly together in the mess.

 

Maybe we need to admit that we don’t have it all together, that sometimes we are barely making it.

 

This feeling of isolation can’t be just because I live away from family, or because I’m a bit more isolated with a toddler and a baby. I think it’s because we have been made to feel connected, but we are all more disconnected than ever.

 

Moving away from home reaps the benefit of cleaving to my husband and working together and depending on one another, but sometimes a girl just desires the presence of the ones who raised her wholesome, carefree years, the years when she knew community and care.

 

In these young years of adulthood, I crave community and care more than ever.

 

 

 

I’m processing life, and the older I become, the more I must process.

 

Lives are born into the world, lives that depend on me, on my generation.

 

Lives leave this world, lives that I never imagined life without, lives that I never fully knew.

 

Lives that are suddenly crushed under the weight of heartache.

 

Lives like the wife whose husband was unfaithful while she remained faithful to everyone, while she tried to fix herself and resolve the problem and stay, but the refrain lingered too long and left her staring weary-eyed at the masquerade.

 

Lives like the guy who became gripped in substances never meant to enter his body, and instead of doing the good things that his imaginative mind conjured up as a boy, he is fueling his hopelessness with hopelessness.

 

Lives like the little girl who seems to have it all together, but is really crushing under the weight of parents who argue every night and dismiss one another and she feels at fault.

 

This processing leaves me dry, parched.

 

I cling to the words that comfort, to the words that offer hope. I go to the One who offers to sit with me through my own weariness, through my own mess. The account where Jesus simply rests in Mary and Martha’s home, and condones Mary’s resting makes me think that we could all do a little less and just be together.

 

It makes me think that maybe we don’t need fancy events or set lessons as our reasoning to spend time with one another.

 

It makes me think that friends and neighbors and church-folk could be a family of sorts, a family that will remind me that this life is hard for all, that we are all processing, and that we all need one another. It makes me think that we could be a family made up of mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers just like old times, before busyness and technology stole her away.

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