Dad has been gone for ten months now, and life has continued both at record speed and a glacial pace since his passing. I miss Dad every single day and am working hard (on far too little sleep) to keep the farm going by learning how to do things for the first time on my own–negotiating with our tenants, figuring out how to stay on top of the grain markets, responding to new initiatives and payouts (most recently, the payout offered to grain farmers from the U.S. government thanks to Trump’s tariffs on imports . . . and resulting cuts in exports).
I began this blog some time ago to explore how cancer “hits the streets,” but the past year has taken me beyond those settings that have become second nature to me–the streets of Birmingham and the unique landscapes in which men and women tackle cancer around the world. My feet have been planted these past ten months (and the months leading up to Dad’s death during which he coped with Congestive Heart Failure) in the fields of corn and soybeans that have supported the Ryan’s for generations. While I grew up visiting Dad and my uncle as they rounded the rows in these very same fields, the terrain became something quite foreign to me during the 30+ years I spent away from my home in Illinois. Sometimes, I fear that I will sink into the soil before I get my bearings.
I am learning, slowly but necessarily, how to survive as a farmer/writer/teacher/wife/mother. In addition to taking on new roles–landowner and sole caretaker of my mom–I’m grappling with how to sustain the other parts of my life that I left home at 17 to pursue. Especially that of a writer.
When Dad died, I wasn’t prepared to share my pain and sorrow with a public audience. Those feelings led me away from this blog, away from a lot of the public writing I’d done for some time, and towards journal writing. I’ve filled pages and pages of bound journals with fears and anxieties, frustrations and surprises. Some days, I haven’t been able to utter words at all, opting instead to draw images on the page or jot down lists of things to do or emotions I’m struggling to process.
Little by little, I’m attempting to re-inhabit this writing space, and others, in an effort to figure out where I, and my thoughts, belong.