I will say that I have started and stopped this particular ‘not a recap’ half a dozen times already. I even wrote nearly a whole blog with another topic and trashed it. It’s not only because I was struggling with what to focus the blog on but because my thoughts were so all over the place, I had a difficult time wrangling them. I finally gave up and said, “What the hell, I’m just going to start…and keep going until I am done!” So, here we go. Fingers crossed this shit makes sense at the end.
I don’t have to go into how emotionally draining this episode was because so many others have, I am pretty sure there is online debriefing amongst fans due to the mass breakdown. Which went in a couple directions. I usually pull on a thread that catches my attention in the episode and unravel the why. This blog is a bit different than that.
The Ballad of Roger Mac came with loads to unpack, at first, I did struggle. I wanted to talk about control and how we truly have none except that over our own self. I wrote about the breakdown of one’s spirit. Nearly 1000 words in and I deleted the whole fucking thing because I was depressing myself. I did NOT need to feed to you – especially now. I closed my laptop and watched the episode, again.
Here I sit with thoughts of preparedness for the future. How that is more a concept than anything. We can prepare physically for what may happen but we are never truly prepared for how things make us feel. The wild, crazy ride of life that becomes intensely personal and all ours.
One way we can predict/prepare for our future is to assess our past. We don’t have to be psychic or psychotic to think we can see what is in our future. Our past behaviours in similar circumstances can lead us toward that vision. Often, the lessons we may have learned from situations can be helpful to determine what actions would be logical (or not) next time around.
Roger is attempting to unload a wagonful of burden before leaving Jemmy and Brianna. Thoughts of his father dying in WW2 enable him to picture himself in both his father’s shoes and Jemmy’s wee booties. He is more concerned about Jemmy not remembering him than he is about dying.
Brianna knows Roger more than anyone. She recognizes Roger’s pattern of behaviour. He puts his own safety in jeopardy to help others. “Act first, think later’ Roger. He has this horrible luck of not having a chance to think later because he’s been forced onto a ship, beaten silly, or tossed back into the idiot hut. You know, those things. We know, Rog, we know…
The worry Brianna feels as Roger heads out is not just because of the impending war but because she knows him to his core. He is a pacifist, she knows he will protect those he perceives as vulnerable, putting his life on the line without a thought. Bree knows Roger’s future will be filled with the compulsion to intercede on behalf of those suffering. Which as we have seen, given the closing scene of The Ballad of Roger Mac, may cost him everything.
Caretakers, we see you. Perhaps you aren’t as ‘idiot hutty’ as Roger manages but getting lost in moments where safety, whether physical, emotional or both are put aside in order to safeguard others, is commendable.
We are seeing this right now, all over the globe. Without proper PPE, tired and frustrated health care workers are going into work, missing their own families, to save the lives of others. I promise you, the caretakers doing this, their families will tell you, it is no surprise. These caretakers have been reacting to situations their whole lives with little regard to themselves. Their past predicted their reaction to this crisis, not the crisis itself.
Jamie has been on the wrong side of the law for as long as we’ve known him. In The Ballad of Roger Mac, we saw him move from the flimsy side of the crown to full-on rebel. Given his history, this wasn’t hard to anticipate. In the past, he turned his body over to save his wife. He plotted with his sister to give him over to the crown for the good of those at Lallybroch. As an indentured servant, he extended his life as a stable hand to be around his illegitimate son. He lived under a pseudonym, as a respectable printer to distribute seditious material and smuggle contraband. Jamie created a life of playing the game in order to achieve what he needed or wanted.
Murtagh was a man who was always prepared to die for what he believed in. Yes, he hated the red coats and undoubtedly believed in the regulator’s cause. Above all, he loved Jamie.
It wasn’t the oath that made Murtagh save Jamie’s life or that made Jamie want to save Murtagh’s. It was love. Jamie had lost his father – he had killed his Uncle – Murtagh was the last man standing that could show him. Show him what, you might ask. The ‘what’ are those now unknowns that we can never predict. It is needing their guidance of having lived ‘the whats’ and their ability to share them with us.
Even at 50, such a loss isn’t easy. It is like our foundation is shaken out from under us. We believed we knew what the world was going to look like and then someone strikes it with a hammer to shatter it into dust. How do we fix that? Is it possible to reimagine it? Will looking back help us see the future here?
It is deep breath time. Acceptance that living through it is to know it. This is the experience to learn from. This is the hurt from which we heal. Healing does not mean getting over or moving on or any of the thousand clichés we use. Healing means being present in our grief, giving it room to breathe while discovering our new normal. Creating a space for a new relationship with those we have lost.
That is how we can predict our future after a loss. It’s never easy. It’s messy and it hurts. People on TV will go through it in hyper speed but us? We need to do it our way. How we look at our loved ones in life can be what helps define that new every day we establish.
Claire, over and above, is reaching back into the past to straight-up create her future, hers is full of penicillin. Technically she’s reaching into the future (but it’s her past – it can get crazy confusing – especially for me who is easily confused 😋). Bringing her knowledge from becoming a surgeon further contributes to her life-saving abilities each day she spends in the 1700’s. There are lives she preserves simply by teaching folks basic hygiene.
How many of our ancestors do you think would still be alive if they didn’t have poop fingers? That’s a legit question, friends.
When Claire sees Jamie off to fight, their departure has a much different feel than Bree and Roger’s. She is his wife, of course, she has concern for his wellbeing. Claire is also exceedingly pragmatic. She puts complete trust in his word to her. In order to concentrate on what she needs to do, she puts her worry into his hands.
This tactic is one that many of us could learn from. Especially chronic worriers. I know they are out there.
I am validating the incredibly difficult times we are in right now. I am going to urge those struggling to go the way of Claire. For those overwhelmed by worry about those they love. Ask questions. Do you trust their intelligence? Are they capable human beings? If you answer yes to those. Trust them.
Tell them you are concerned and ask them to share their experiences with you. We tend to get so carried away with random thoughts we disconnect from the reality. Claire understands that Jamie has said, today isn’t the day we part for good. She trusts him and his words. Claire focuses on the things she can control, which are medicine and healing. She can not control each outcome but she does her level best with what she has. That is all any of us can do.
Imagine we could predict our futures to the letter. Having the information of when we would lose someone or we could foresee falling in love…we could never be truly prepared. We might picture the physicalities of the situation however the feelings we experience will always be new. Emotion is the element that can not be nailed down.
Claire used her knowledge of how wounds are created, faced off with that skeezy Lyle Asshat Brown. She accused him of shooting Isaiah Morton in the back. His manbaby ego is battered so badly he smashed her one and only syringe, like a toddler. Keenly aware of the consequences of his actions, Claire is horrified into silence.
Jamie knew he would be battling against Murtagh in this fight. He always knew there was a chance his Godfather could be killed, yet, when the moment came that he was. Grief took over.
Brianna wrestled with her fear that something terrible happened to Roger when he did not return to camp before the battle. She knew he was missing. Her worry was colouring everything in front of her. When faced with her husband hanging from a tree. Shock overcame her.
Emotion. Emotion. Emotion. It will often be the curve in the path to foreseeing what is ahead. I believe the key is to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Anger, fear, sadness or shock. Allow it to take its course, validate why it is there and know it’s all right. The less we suppress or deny our emotions, the sooner we move towards the future we envision.
I am sending you all love and hugs- virtual hugs because those I can give you, up close and personal.