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  • Renee Burns

Notes from the road (warriors)

Happy Friday! When we were first admitted into the hospital after my water broke, October 2019, we started a CaringBridge page to keep folks updated mostly on the medical status of my pregnancy. We provided weekly updates, on Fridays, because Friday meant I had successfully gone another week of “keeping the babies in”. Since then, I’ve had a bug in my ear every Friday that says “write today Renee”.

It’s been hard to sit and write over the past week or so. I started to write about gardening with the twins, how the weather is getting nicer, and how we’ve had them in the wheel barrow, with their water-proof pants on, digging (more like eating) in the dirt, and generally getting to spend more and more time outdoors. I started to write about the importance of integrating children into nature as early as possible. I started to write about Nature-Deficit Disorder. I started to write about season changes...I started to write about with increasingly nice weather there’s been more socializing with friends- and the joy of seeing my girls interact with other humans…

But writing about any of the above topics kinda’ left me feeling empty. None of it was where my head, or my heart, were.

The reality: The past few weeks, living in Minnesota, have honestly been consumed with walking around trying to hold back tears. Trying to find the balance of social media, news updates, staying up-to-date on the current events, and taking deep breaths, trying not worry about my daughters future, turning screens off, and yes, spending as much time outdoors with my family as possible.

I was on the phone with a client, who happens to live in downtown Minneapolis, when the verdict was read. She had to shut the windows in her apartment due to the collective release of energy that was spilling out all around her in the streets below. I could hear the yelling, cars honking, hooting and hollering, pans clanging, all in celebration of the news. I felt it deeply too. A deep breathe, a sigh of relief, a moment of elation. Holding back my own tears of mixed emotions, I had to muscle through the rest of the session. What are we celebrating? As I’m sure many of you have read, it was not justice, but accountability that was served. It’s weird to be celebrating what should be baseline expectations, and oh not to mention, a human life was still taken (and many more have since been taken in a similar vein)…but I did. I got off the phone, shed a few tears, did a little happy dance, and felt a tad prouder to call Minnesota, and Minneapolis, the birthplace of the twins, home.

And now here I sit, looking out a big window, watching waves crash along a beautiful shoreline. Directly outside my window, white sand beaches, a piercingly blue, Caribbean hue to the water, a pathway to the beach, with a single-speed rusty bike parked at the end of the path, left out over night after my husband and I shared a glass of wine, and watched the sun go down with the sand between our toes. The best part, there wasn’t a peep from the baby monitor all night ;-)

No, I am not checking in from a tropical oasis, or even a warmer, coastal climate. We are in Michigan. We are on our 1st road trip with the girls in our new pop-top van, lovingly known as DAVe! (which stands for Duluth Adventure Van ... and expeditions. Feel free to check DAVe out on instagram #duluthadventurevan, or Anyway, we are technically on a trip for a client of my husbands, doing a recon of an area where he will be running a retreat for young adult cancer survivors this fall.

And big surprise, the writing juices are flowing again. Maybe it’s the magic of being on the road; maybe it’s the first time traveling out of state as a family of four since that October I was hospitalized. Maybe it’s simple fact that travel, especially road travel, has been an integral part of my identity for sooooo long, and since becoming “Mama Burns” in a rather traumatic fashion, I’ve had to put much of myself, and what makes ME ME, on hold. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m living a dream I had over and over again sitting in the NICU, hours, days, months on end- sitting in a dark room, machines making noises all around me, my babies hooked up to them- keeping them alive, when I often dreamt, and even talked to them about, the trips and adventures we would go on some day. I remember whispering, over and over to them, as they were nestled, VERY delicately, on my chest, “Just you wait until you get to hear the sounds on the outside!- You’re gonna love birds, and waves, and running water…oh and trees in the wind….there’s so much more to life than these damn beeps…”

It’s crazy that day is here. Sitting at the water’s edge in the sand (yes, sitting on my ass because of the damn brace on my knee still…but that’s a whole different struggle for a different day) watching my husband chase our little warriors, as they chase seagulls, attempt to run into the water- which they are comically, and scarily, drawn to- while I prepare snacks for them to have in their toddle-sized camping chairs in the grass, which I pulled out of the back of the van, I literally have to keep pinching myself. Those LONG days of uncomfortably trying to hold a 2-pound baby against my skin and not knock wires loose, setting off even louder beeps, that were SOO often filled with the daydreams, and stories of “some day….” Are here.

Deep Breath. Yes, I say over and over again, that “some day” is today. And today it is just a teeny, tiny bit sweeter because it comes with a lighter heart in the wake of the past weeks news.

Anyway, next update I’m sure will be- “Tips and Tools on #vanlife with twin toddlers”- let’s just say this adventure is not without it’s steep learning curves ;-)

I hope that you all get the opportunity to pause and listen to what’s outside your window today. We often take it for granted.

Cheers from somewhere beautiful along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Mama Burns

(and if you haven’t yet, feel free to follow along on our journey on Facebook and Instagram @ Raising Peaceful Warriors- there’s plenty of pictures being updated to go along with the trip!)


1 Comment

Apr 24, 2021

Renee, from my daughter Sarah’s experience with Warrior Aidan, what you have had is post-traumatic stress disorder. Aidan was born in Jerusalem and in Israel they know how to treat wartime injuries. Her business is called TravelAble and she works on finding all kinds of travel opportunities for families who didn’t know they could travel with their autistic or disabled child. (Or twins!—even not disabled). Parents of children who are challenged need all the encouragement they can get and I know you and Sarah can help. Kiss the warriors from your Mom’s old friend, Cindy.

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