Monday, August 29, 2011

Tough Stuff

I had a friend once tell me that she didn’t read my columns because they were ‘too happy’.

She said it made her feel bad that I never seemed to have problems and her life was full of them. I was able to let her comments roll off my back because I know the truth. We have our fair share of problems. Trust me. How could a family with three teens and one tween not have some frost heaves in the road? I just don’t like to dwell on them. I’d rather focus on the good stuff that comes along the path.

But sometimes life just pushes and pushes and pushes until you want to scream, “Enough already!” I had that feeling recently, as one thing after the other seemed to fall apart in front of my eyes. So this column is dedicated to my friend who thinks I live a charmed life.

Oh, where shall we begin?

Let’s start with the house. We bought the house I’m sitting in because it had great square footage, great potential for improvement, and (some day) great resale value. It came with five acres of gorgeous woods, bordered by a stream. It’s kind of rare to find that in East Greenbush, especially when the house is in the middle of a quiet, lovely neighborhood near all major shopping. We spent all our life savings on supplies and then spent five years throwing our sweat equity into fixing it up. We added antique windows into interior walls, found and refinished original wood floors, and updated all the utilities. We painted every wall, added new trim, and replaced almost every floor in the house, not to mention gutted and built back a brand new kitchen.

So when moving time came, we thought we’d be set. We put our house on the market with confidence. And then we sat. And sat. And I’m still sitting. We dropped the price through June and July and are now almost back to the price we paid for it. And still, no takers.

That’s depressing enough, losing almost every penny of equity we’d put into this place, if it weren’t for the fact my whole family just moved out to Colorado without me. I’m stuck here until this fabulous house (that no one seems to want) sells.

Okay, just for fun, lets stir in another major life stressor. Two weeks before we were to drive across the country so I could drop the boys off in Colorado, my little guy took a big fall on his skateboard. Not only did he end up with a broken wrist, but despite a good helmet, he suffered a concussion that put him in the hospital for three days.

It’s a very scary thing to see your child not know who he is, or where he is. It was torture for his daddy to be way off in Colorado, as his little guy struggled to heal. For days he couldn’t seem to stay awake and we didn’t know when we’d ever get out of that hospital room. Well trained teens saved the day and we all got through it together.

So then it was time to take our big drive. The one where I dropped my oldest son off at college in Utah, then sent my two younger boys off to their first days of school in Colorado, before I flew away from them, back to the empty house in New York. Lots of emotions in every part of that plan. You’d think that would be enough, right?

Guess again.

On our last day in Utah, right before I said goodbye to my first college bound child, we stopped by to see our very best friends in the state. They had lived across the street from us when we lived there and quickly became some of our favorite people in the world.

I had heard that my friend was sick, but I had no idea she’d spent the past six days in ICU and was hooked up to respirators, fighting for her life. Seeing her in that hospital room, surrounded by machines, dredged up all the memories I had of losing my mom, seventeen years ago this week. I just wasn’t emotionally prepared to see someone else I loved in that situation.

It nearly knocked me flat.

Somehow we pulled ourselves away from that hospital room, after giving hugs to her husband and offering helpless encouragement. Twenty minutes later I pulled it together and hugged my son on the steps of his college dorm, trying my best to hold back the floodgates of tears and emotion.

And then, on the long drive back to Colorado, where in 48 hours I would be saying goodbye to my husband and my other two boys, I cried.

All the way through Wyoming I let the quiet tears fall. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t have access to a soundproof closet, because I’m not sure how out of control I might have become. So instead I just let the tears do the cleansing.

There is not room in this space to describe the other nightmare that played out in the past two weeks, when my main back account number was stolen and used to buy electronics in Texas. Freezing of major accounts two days before a cross country trip equals trials and tribulations you just don’t want to hear about.

So yeah, really crappy stuff does happen to us. And sometimes it seems overwhelming.

But if I’ve learned anything in my 43 years on the planet, it’s this.

Take stock of the good stuff. My husband has a great job that he loves. My children are all well (and healing well). There is hope for a great life in Colorado, once we all get there.

So for now I’ll just keep jumping over the bumps in the road that lead us to that destination. And keep remembering that there’s always someone else out there who has it worse off than I do.


theelfqueen said...

Oh sweetie. That's exhausting. Have a glass... or a bottle of wine. Make that Rum. (or tea if you prefer -- something to relax)

I am glad to hear that healing is taking place on wrist and head and the kids are getting settled out here, but it sucks to hear about your house!

Thinking of you!

Jody said...

Praying for you, Judy, as you trod through this seemingly unending valley.

I appreciate your willingness to focus on the good, and be grateful for the too often overlooked things in life: family, friends and health.

God is good.