We milk in two groups.
I am heavy with child.
The new barn is almost ready.
The summer days are warm, and I am restless.
I have lost one child.
I am resting each moment in grace.
My farmer is restless.
There is much work to be done.
The details of the impending move to the new milking parlor fill his mind.
Will it work?
The success of the new depends on the swiftness of the move of the old.
A date is set.
The change; imminent.
It is a stressful time.
All my farmer has ever known, 25 years of milking in the same barn,
is coming to an end.
The move takes over 18 hours.
My farmer is up for more than 36 hours before he rests.
We successfully transfer from a tie stall milking barn to a milking parlor.
My farmer is exhausted.
Two weeks later we pile on more change as we welcome Elijah Todd Davis
weighing 9 lbs 1 oz at 4:17 pm.
The days move to months and winter comes with all its Vermont fury.
The difficulties of a new milking system take their toll.
The weight; unbearable.
My farmer begins the steep decline to discouragement.
Being the dutiful wife I am, I encourage him to pray more.
To focus on the positive.
We dance this dance.
Me the cheerleader, teaching, cleaning,
taking care of a new baby and a step daughter.
The cheering falls flat.
I receive a call at work.
I meet my mother-in-law at the doctor’s office.
Something is wrong with my dear farmer.
In my heart I knew.
But no words could explain.
Depression enters my everyday vocabulary.
The battle begins.
This pillar of a man.
Lover of God.
Student of Scriptures.
A woman from our church who has lived with depression as her
companion brings me a video.
It changes my life.
It explains the physiological effects of depression on the brain.
My farmer and I, together, begin the ascent out of the pit.
We seek medical attention.
We ask hard questions.
I am scared.
I have a step daughter and a 7-month old.
I am teaching, and there is a farm to run.
Depression is not a household word.
There is a stigma attached.
I vow to educate.
I pray for wisdom.
Time marches on.
Eighteen years later we wake in the middle of the night.
We have visitors.
They are not the kind of visitors you want to have.
They didn't bring a gift.
They brought bad news and pain.
Our beloved first born son had taken his final drive.
Elijah went home to be with the LORD at about 12:30 am July 28, 2013.
He was not yet eighteen. He had just graduated.
The journey of grieving began.
Less than two months later as the waves of pain threaten to overcome,
we receive the diagnosis that my farmer has cancer.
The world continues to spin without our son.
With cancer now part of our vocabulary.
The winter hits with a vengeance.
Radiation and chemotherapy expand our vocabulary.
Their effects leave my farmer heading toward the slippery slope.
The relentlessness of winter, the deep agony of grief,
the weight of the farm push my farmer under.
It's no wonder.
The lover of God,
Student of scriptures,
Succumbs once again to the fiery effects of the joy thief.
As the symptoms rear their ugly head, my farmer recognizes them.
We cry to the Lord for relief.
There is none in sight.
The weight of this world begins to crush.
The tool of the enemy.
My role becomes critical.
I need to remember
Depression is masking who my farmer really is.
The joy thief knows no bounds.
I push aside my grief.
I throw my needs to the feet of Jesus.
I fight for my farmer.
I look past the discouragement.
I call the doctor and make an appointment.
He seeks help.
We manage slowly each day to find peace.
There is hope.
It takes weeks of waiting for the medicine to begin to take effect.
Weeks of praying and interceding for my farmer.
Changes in doses of medicine.
This disease is not for the faint of heart.
We are spent from the process.
Yet we begin to see progress.
After three months, there are feet on solid ground.
There is a twinkle in my farmer’s eye.
He cracks a joke.
I know we have turned the corner.
For how long?
I do not know.
We will take what we have and live in gratitude.
There is hope for the depressed.
Hope exists because of Jesus.
Hope exists because there is wisdom and understanding in this area.
The recipe is different for each person.
But there is hope.
As we navigate appropriate doses of medicine,
we also have conversations of what the triggers of this disease may be.
We search for ways to avoid the descent into the pit again.
The Northeast is dark.
Farming is challenging.
We are still grieving.
Hard days may be ahead.
We will forge through.
Keeping careful watch.
Trusting in Christ.
Laying it all down.
A teacher turned home-school mom, Tammy Lynne Davis is a lover of God, farm wife, and mom trying to find her way while one son resides with the King of Kings. Originally a Rhode Island native and now living in Vermont, she and her farmer own and operate one of two dairy farms left in their town. They walk by grace as they put one foot in front of the other toward the cross. Together they seek direction after their 17-year-old son was called home to Glory after a single car accident and then three months later her farmer was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Her journey through this life can be found at www.farmingoncilleyhill.blogspot.com. Connect with Tammy on twitter @DavisfarmTammy.
Thanks, Tammy, for sharing your family’s journey with grief and depression. Also, many thanks to Katy for sharing yesterday about her journey with depression and bipolar. It’s the willingness to share openly and transparently about mental illness that helps erase the stigma and educate others. If you’re reading this and suffering with depression, please don’t hesitate to seek medical and spiritual help. Suffering in silence doesn’t make it better. If you’d like prayer, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you!
“Rustic Vermont” photo courtesy of EA/Freedigitalphotos.net
“Dawn” photo courtesy of dan/Freedigitalphotos.net
“Man Walking in Snow” photo courtesy of Maggie Smith/Freedigitalphotos.net
I’m excited to announce the launch of my quarterly newsletter next month entitled “So You Want To Be Encouraged!” In the inaugural edition, I’ll share my exciting publishing news, as well as give away a copy of one of master wreath maker Nancy Alexander’s books on wreath making, just in time for the holidays. To be eligible for the drawing to win her book, you simply have to be a newsletter subscriber. The subscription box is at the top right-hand side of this blog.