It’s good to be a freelancer. Right now, I’m in the house I grew up in, and right after administering another dose of Vicodin, I’ve just finished the last of the work projects I’ve struggled to get done this week, and I’m taking a moment to be deeply thankful that my life is so amazingly flexible.
Let me back up. At about 2 a.m. this past Tuesday, my mother was still bustling around her house, putting laundry away and generally tidying up. She trotted up the steep stairway to the second floor like she has hundreds of times over the 36 years she’s lived in that house, with her arms full and not bothering to turn on the hall light. It was so dark in that hall that, once Mom turned aside to set the laundry down on the hall table, she couldn’t see which direction was the rest of the second-floor hallway, and which was the stairs. Sleepy and disoriented, she picked the wrong way and, intending to take a step down the hall, stepped into thin air above the stairway, then fell head over heels down a full flight of stairs. She broke one arm, dislocated one shoulder, torqued her neck, and bruised several of her ribs.
Here’s where my gratitude comes in: A friend who lives nearby took Mom to the hospital to get x-rayed, diagnosed, prescribed, and patched up. When she got back home, she called to tell me the story, and at that moment, I was able to toss my laptop computer, my guitar, my knitting, several books, and a week’s worth of clothes into my car and rush right over. I’ve moved into her house for at least one week, and possibly longer, depending on what her doctor says at her checkup next Monday. I don’t have to worry about missing work, because I can work from anywhere. I don’t have to ask anyone for time off, because my time is entirely at my command. I decide when I have to work in order to meet a deadline, and when it’s time for a break because my mom needs me to fix her lunch, open her prescription bottle, or bring her a better pillow. I have no idea how I would have managed this if I’d had a full-time, in-house job, but as my life is, I have have been able to meet all of my work deadlines while hearing my mom tell her friends on the phone, “Don’t worry about me. My daughter is here, and she’s waiting on me hand and foot!”
No, it’s not fun to see someone I love in pain. Yes, it’s getting tedious to keep driving off on little errands, opening bottles and jars, and making yet another cup of tea. Yes, it has been a challenge fitting my work projects in around my worrying…but accidents happen. Illnesses happen. Heartbreaks happen. Relatives need extra care sometimes. Sometimes friends need someone to listen to their stories, or just a ride to the airport. I’m happy to know that I can make room for anything life throws at me.