Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

MY LIFE IS A JIGSAW PUZZLE. I’M PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER, PIECE BY PIECE!

Did you ever feel splintered? Fragmented? With a little “How did this ever happen to a nice girl/boy like me?” thrown in? And I mean this turmoil occurs while you’re completely sober and mentally as clear-headed as if you were, once again, that beautiful 35-year-old, who managed a large house, five children and a heavy travel/teaching/writing schedule…to say nothing of all the cooking and cleaning and yard work that provided the down side to an otherwise very exciting life? (You may have guessed that 35 is the age at which I choose to float through eternity).

The fact that I have left you, my friends, dangling, picture-wise, about my trip to Bhutan last November-December, and my subsequent adventures in Nepal and India, can only attest to the confusing and rapid sequence of events that followed my decision to sell my house in Maplewood, NJ, divest myself of most worldly goods (except those love letters…give me a break…and curly-edged photographs that go in the stand- alone albums), drive my ailing Toyota cross country with son, Tom, who is still recovering, and plunk myself in the first apartment I’ve occupied in 62 years. Thank God for that view of Mt. Baker and Puget Sound! And the reasonable rent.

Yes, it so happened, I did find that there was life after Broadway and the Plainfield Symphony, and more nice people on Whidbey Island than even on the #1 train to Lincoln Center, but I was still a fish out of water. Then, as if to compound my ruminations/ wheel-spinning, about what I should or even want do next, I found myself facing up to where I am right now: the grateful recipient of a new hip, brought on by whatever happens when you beat your body up and down the mountains for 80 years. I dived into this experience with gusto, clearing the decks of all previous summer plans, and finding an adorable doctor at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, who, in 45 minutes, sawed off my leg, drilled a hole in my pelvis and hammered and screwed in a miraculous device which leaves me half-bionic, and sent me home the next day with no precautions (he knew it wouldn’t do any good, anyway). This is high-tech carpentry if I ever saw it, with a medical degree thrown in. And for those who may have hip or joint pain, it’s called a minimally-invasive anterior hip replacement. You can find a dandy video of the operation on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jb2nq_jRwI Just don’t view it before dinner.

This all occurred less than three weeks ago and I am now walking around (carefully!), unaided, and looking forward to a return to the Himalayas in November. When I asked Dr. Pritchett if I could go, he answered, “Why not?”

So why am I disjointed (not meant as a pun)? I have children who have helped every step of the way, especially Cary, my eldest, who has been juggling six projects as she hovered over me like Nurse Nightingale, figuring pain dosages and exercises, and sleeping in my flat to make sure I didn’t wander onto the balcony and howl at the moon at midnight. And almost too many friends, who have brought food and overwhelmed me with kindness to the point where I was screaming for solitude. You know the feeling. And now I’m alone with my thoughts. God help me! No more pain medicine, not much pain, and all the time in the world to agonize.

Partial reason for this blood-letting: A new awakening. I have never felt so vulnerable. So at the mercy of “the kindness of others…not strangers.” Well, here’s a reliable fact of life for you, Meg. Things go wrong. But you’ve been pretty lucky in the past. You think you’re the only one who will live forever? Really? Good luck!

You’ll be glad to know that I’m now working on acceptance…an old Buddhist teaching, easier said than done. My, we do fight reality, don’t we?

I just read a book given to me by a friend in Seattle, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. It brought a smile to my face and lifted my spirits to know that I can find simpatico crazies here in the Northwest if I just put the pieces of the puzzle back together and open up a new space, free of the past and eager for the possibilities of the future.

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6 Comments

  1. Ruth Abel

    Dear Meg, I’m glad to hear that your hip replacement went well. I never thought of it as carpentry, but that certainly puts it in a new light. I sent you a couple of emails to wish you well and got them back as undeliverable, I sent them to your Verizon account. You certainly made a 180 degree turn in your life, but as adventurous as you are, I’m sure you will figure it out. I’ll be doing the same in a year or two, but it’s not such a big stretch. I still have hopes that the kids will return to CA. I could use their help. Meanwhile the Grandcat is ruling the roost. All good wishes and glad to have an update. Ruth

  2. Atta girl Meg. I say you are following your heart and aiming for a new kind of happiness, knowing you are in the right place and doing what you are meant to do. I have no doubt you will visit the Himalayas in November!

  3. Hey Bionic Woman!
    Congratulations and I’m sure you WILL go again – nothing is going to stop you until the inevitable. Fabulous! You continue to inspire me! Sounds like you just need some good consistent and amiably expressed boundaries to me. And apt. living, yes it does mess with your head. But fortunately you have gardens and beaches galore to wander – and heal- on. Best to you. I will back to the NW for a visit in Feb. (Chinese New Year). Would really like to hook up! Julia

  4. Gullvi Eriksson

    Meg! Congratulations to your new hip. I am so happy for you. I’ll send you a mail. Love Gullvi

  5. Sherry Drury

    Glad to here you have joined me to move from the East coast to the West. I did so because my kids moved out here (4 out of 5), I’m glad I did. I thought my life would be easy now that Herb is gone but I know have my oldest son on my hands. He’s an alcoholic and can’t stay sober long enough to get help. He was teaching English in Thailand but too much of the booze they threw him out. He went to help with the Salvation Army for 6 months which was a temporary fix, but now I’m stuck with him. Sherry

  6. Nina Pattison

    Hey Meg. I was actually going pick up the phone and call you to find out how your bones are! and here this blog popped up!!!!whaddya know!
    I’m so glad to hear that all is wonderful and that you are going back to mountain climbing. I need to ask you how now that everest has collapsed! and Sherpas are on strike! But first I must take my little dog out for a slw walk. i bashed my shins badly yesterday and they’re still bleeding and hurting. I did not know how much shins matter in ambulation! I’ve been thinking about you. Got stuck in a funk! Sending you lots of love and continued healing!!!! I ‘ve found that bones hurt!
    You are lucky to have so many friends and family around to take care of you.
    well, dear friend.’bye for now
    love, nina

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