As a member of the Team GB Elite blogging group, I’ve been given the opportunity to
share an exciting discount with my readers, to celebrate Growing Bolder Magazine’s 2016 expansion!
This post is sponsored by Growing Bolder, but all opinions are my own.
To receive 25% off your 2016 subscription to Growing Bolder Magazine, head to this link and use the code eliteblog at checkout. You’ll also get free shipping for all six issues! Learnmore at GrowingBolderMagazine.com.
I remember exactly where I was when my friend Judy called. It was face down on an exercise mat at the local YMCA, stretching out after walking on a cushioned track, getting ready to do some push-ups and most likely mentally complaining about the effort.
Judy’s name came up on the phone display when it rang, and I propped myself up on my elbows and gave a cheery “hello.” Her reply was so unexpected.
“Our house burned down last night,” she said. “Everything is gone.” Oh…my…God.
What can you possibly say in the face of such a cataclysm to make things better?
Judy and I have been friends since we were college freshman. Our friendship is measured in decades if you’re just going by the calendar. Between us we have three marriages, two divorces, eight grown children and five grandkids. We know where the bones are buried. When I had a “female procedure” done a few years ago, Judy was there when I woke up, handing me ice chips and chocolate and then driving me home. When she hit a rough spot on some personal issues a very long time ago, I instantly dropped the term paper I was working on, picked her up and took us both to a fancy restaurant where wine and cheesecake were the only things possible to think of ordering under the circumstances. And I brought Kleenex. On the day my divorce was final, she took me out for drinks and brought flowers and balloons as I set sail on a new, solo journey after 25 years as part of a couple. You get the drift.
And so when she called with this horrifying news, it jolted me to the core.
The weeks that followed were about all you could expect. The family moved into a motel for a long while as insurance issues got sorted out, and the future got sorted out as well. There was an incredible outpouring from friends, neighbors, and their church for things like clothing and food and other essential supplies. Judy kept on working as an oncology nurse, which has been her career for as long as we’ve both been untethered from college, despite the fact that on the surface, her past and all its treasured mementos had been wiped clean in one terrifying night by some fluke of bad electrical wiring.
And she kept her face to the sun, and her shoulder to the wheel, putting one foot steadfastly in front of the other, because she knew that what was most important—her family and her life—were still safe and she was profoundly grateful for that.
In the years that have followed, she and her husband have made a new home in a condo overlooking a lovely man-made lake. It is different from the single family home with a yard that she had known, but there are countless signs of cheer, and love, and happiness throughout. There are bird feeders, and gardens for flowers and vegetables, and squirrels to shoo away. Neighbors have become friends, and in a moment of weakness, Judy recently caved in to a longstanding desire and bought a puppy. I’m so glad she did.
There are a lot of people who “survive” bad things. Illness, accident, loss of a job or career. But “thriving” afterward is a different story. Some folks just crumble under the weight of loss and sadness. Not Judy.
After a cataclysm—for Judy the loss of her home, in my case the horseback riding accident—it’s not uncommon to reassess priorities, pare them down to the bare essentials and keep them front and center.
In Judy’s case, between her perspective gained working with cancer patients for decades and having the past wiped clean by the fire, the essentials are crystal clear. That life can be unfairly short, and terrifyingly capricious. That you can’t take a single day for granted so make the best of the one you’ve got. That people are important and things are not. Hold your loved ones close and let them know you love them every time you can.
And of course, my favorite—and the one she cheerfully reminds me of lest I let my natural optimism slip and whine too much about something inconsequential—any day you’re still on the right side of the dirt is a good one!