Category Archives: V. J. Knutson

September 24 – Trauma’s Shadow is Rage

by V.J. Knutson

The author at the time of the incident.

“…he had always been popular and happy and things had always worked out.”
(Holly LeCraw, The Swimming Pool)

I close the book, feeling the rage shifting just below my sternum. It’s the second time this week that words have elicited this response. The first was an online post and the author had written something about how gently we come into this world; a man, of course, whose lack of birthing experience allowed him to think glibly about such beginnings – and, I know otherwise.

Flesh tears from flesh.

Pain builds and peaks and in a bloodied push of exasperation life emerges.

I’m not discrediting the miraculous. Birth is miraculous. And in time, joy overshadows the trauma, and we conceive again. This, too, is a miracle.

Maybe it is all this talk of he said/ she said dominating the news; women daring to call out their abusers. The ensuing backlash.

I named my assailant. Included his address, and full details of the abduction. Then buried the memory, and self, in a well so deep it wouldn’t emerge for fourteen years; knife-edged fragments butchering my complacency. Memory works that way.

No charges were laid, no subsequent trial; the judgment occurred on the spot the day that they found me, missing overnight, in a state of shock. I had asked for it; my clothes, the unfortunate choice to attend a bar underage, the willingness to get in a stranger’s car with friends. The defilement was my fault. How could I not bury it?

Happiness is desirable – no different for me – but I am also a realist/cynic; and life does not unfold in candy-wrapped sweetness. It stumbles along, meets with obstacles, and demands that we look within. To say that someone has lived an unmarred existence, as suggested in the quotation above, is just laziness on the part of the author. This is not truth, so why write it?

Life commands character.

Real life, that is.

The rage subsides. I’ve said my piece. I turn the page.

V.J.Knutson is a former educator, avid blogger, and grandmother. She and her husband are currently traveling cross-country in a 40-foot motor home. Originally from Ontario, Canada, V.J. hopes this journey will provide healing for her ME/CFS, or at the very least, inspire further creativity. Find her online at One Woman’s Quest.

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February 18 – The Spirit of Wild Horses

by V.J. Knutson

We’ve come to the bluffs in hopes of seeing the wild horses. The day is crystal blue without a cloud in the sky. My heart is heavy.

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve heard from my friend Nadine, and I fear what that means. Dini has been fighting an aggressive form of cancer for nearly a year now. It’s our habit to connect everyday, either by text or Facebook. The last message I received said she was “Going to sleep.”

There is little I can do so far from home.

Coon’s Bluff is a strip of land with mountains on one side and a drop overlooking the Salt River on the other. Spotting the horses at the top of the mountain, I head that way, while Ric is drawn to the water.

The horses are magnificent and it feels like such a privilege to be here surrounded by the reds of the mountain, the green of the mesquite with their almost black trunks, the greys and caramel of the rocks cascading down to the blue-green river. From every direction I hear birdsong and I ready my camera, but the motivation is lacking. Today, I am more interested in just communing with nature.

How Dini would love this place.

I push my walker across the uneven ground towards Ric, who signals me to stop and turn. A mare and foal are paces behind, so I move behind a bush to let them pass. They pause a moment, emanating such gentleness, and then head down the steep slope to the water.

A parade of horses follows, among them another mare and foal, and an old grey, and then a stallion that neighs and stomps in agitation. I take the cue and move further off the path. He picks up pace and passes.

We watch in awe as the group crosses the river and disappears into the far woods, and then startle to the sound of rapid hoof beats and a streak of chestnut flashing by.

Two eagles soar into view.

“It’s so beautiful!” I find myself repeating.

Ric finds a place to sit and I move further along the bluffs to where a tree hangs out over the drop. Two little birds chase each other over the water and back, and a small head bobs in under the rock crevices. A Rock squirrel watches from its hiding place and I can’t help but line up the shots.

I just want to stay in this moment forever.

“My wife was bedridden for over two years,” I hear Ric saying, and reflect on how far I have come, not just in miles, but also in healing. My disease, while debilitating at times, doesn’t carry the same threat as cancer. I have been the lucky one.

The horses are back at the water’s edge and watching them I feel as a deep sense of calm and peace.

Life is mystery. It is beauty and sorrow and unapologetic. It just is.

(Nadine died this day. I will remember her with the wild horses.)

V.J.Knutson is a former educator, avid blogger, and grandmother. She and her husband are currently travelling cross-country in a 40 foot motor home. Originally from Ontario, Canada, V.J. hopes this journey will provide healing for her ME/CFS, or at the very least, inspire further creativity. Find her online at https://onewomansquest.org/.

January 5 – Travelling As Is

by V. J. Knutson

5

“My husband wants to put wheels on the bedroom and drive me cross-country.”

Three years ago, the doctor warned us against travelling six hours by car, stating that my health was too fragile. Now, she pauses in her note taking and ruminates for a moment before declaring the idea: “creative”.

“Well, it’s certainly taking charge of your life, instead of giving into the disease,” my psychologist adds when I disclose the plan to her. “I admire your attitude.”

Originally, we planned to take two years: I’d focus on recovery; he’d concentrate on winding down the business, and we’d sell everything off in stages. A boom in real estate helped push our dream forward, and here we are, on the road in half the time.

Mornings are the worst. Sleep, when it does come, encases my body in lead, reluctantly giving up her grasp when consciousness calls. Since the mind stirs long before the limbs, I have learned to use this time to write. Writing is one of the luxuries illness has afforded me.

Inspiration is never far away when the view from my window is ever-changing. Today, I am greeted by a cloudless blue Texan sky, anchored by the beauty of palms waving gently in the breeze.

Later, we’ll drive to one of the World Birding Centers nearby, where I’ll search for the green jay, native to this area, hoping to snap a picture. Or, if strength fails me, I’ll prop myself up in bed and try to sketch the pintail duck I photographed on my last visit. He’s such an elegant creature, his head a black hood atop a snowy neck and breast, balanced serenely on one leg. I admire his ease and grace; maybe even envy him a little more–my gait is so lumbered and slow.  Self-pity is a flitting sentiment these days though, now that I have time to admire the delights of nature.

Life is simple now. We gave up most of our worldly goods–passed what we could to the children, sold the rest. We are nomads, escapees from the stress of debt, cold weather, and the mundane.

Our home, complete with a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and walk-in closet, offers all that we need. He has his desk; I have my king-sized bed.  Shoeboxes, we’ve discovered, can be efficient and comfortable. Our yard, however, is incomparable, priceless.

In a week or so, we’ll pack up and head further west.

Illness, we’ve discovered, does not take a vacation, but this alternative sure beats the years of isolation and immobility that preceded it.

Life is a grand as it can be.

V.J.Knutson is a former educator, avid blogger, and grandmother. She and her husband are currently travelling cross-country in a 40 foot motor home. Originally from Ontario, Canada, V.J. hopes this journey will provide healing for her ME/CFS, or at the very least, inspire further creativity. Find her online at https://onewomansquest.org/.