Take a deep breath, and check your vacuum.
The past two weeks are nothing but fog. Hazy. My calendar is somewhere. I’m sure appointments have been missed. If I didn’t show up for something, forgive me. I’ll make it up to you. It might help if you remind me what it was.
I hate to even tell y’all everything that’s happened, because it could always be worse. It’s so easy to become a complainer. But you know what? We only know what’s right in front of us. It isn’t necessary to compare and compete for worst days. Maybe it isn’t complaining. Let’s call it commiserating instead. Just nod with understanding for a minute.
So we had that ice storm. We lost power, like everyone else in Augusta. The night the trees came down was terrifying for us all. It was a war zone. After the storm, we came together and started to clean up our city. We threw away freezers full of food. We chain sawed together. We counted our blessings. It could’ve been so much worse.
Strangely enough, when we were still in the dark, we had an earthquake. I know, California, yours are bigger. It wasn’t enough to do damage, but it rattled our already fragile nerves. It could’ve been so much worse.
Last weekend, I was in a car wreck with my kids. It was terrifying. A sheriff’s deputy on a motorcycle hit us. It was nothing more than an accident. He made a quick judgment call, which resulted in two scared children, a hysterical mama, and his ejection from the bike. Fortunately, his injuries were superficial. The people who stopped to act as official witnesses, comfort my children, move my car, and everything else I can’t remember, deserve a hug. Penny, you’re the best. My angel. I wasn’t hurt, the kids are fine, and the officer got up and walked away. Minor property damage isn’t a big deal. It could’ve been so much worse.
30 minutes after the rubble cleared, my friend Debbie lost her long, hard battle with cancer. She was one special lady. She has everyone thinking they’re her best friend. She’s never met a stranger. Her parties were like no other. She and her beloved husband of 40 years, her sweetheart, Jimmy, always sat in their garage, cocktail or diet Coke in hand, waiting for their friends. The whole garage thing may seem a little strange, but this was no ordinary garage. It’s a carport, really, with a pool table, TV, refrigerator, popcorn maker, hot dog cooker, big comfy chairs, a heater, an ice maker, and a tiny sink for rinsing wine glasses.
She will be missed by so many. Right before she died, Deb’s BFF, also named Debbie, said “I’m about to see what it’s like to live without her.” It’s sad, right? You’re thinking, “It will be so weird and inappropriate if she says ‘it could’ve been so much worse’.” Believe me, it’s bad, but it could’ve been so much worse.
You see, Debbie’s spirit was so profound, she made friendships. Like, she built them. As if she was simply baking a cake, she brought people together. We experienced that, first-hand. Her chair is empty, but we have eleventy billion happy memories. We’d love to hear her laugh again, but more importantly, she isn’t in pain anymore.
My point, though it took me awhile to get here, is not only that I’ve had a bad go of it. It’s not my intention to see who’s had a harder time, this person or that. But if there’s an ice storm tree in your den, or you’re driving a teeny tiny rental car because your car was smashed in a scary accident where a cop flew through the air, or a loved one is sick, it truly could be worse. I promise. Sit back, take a deep breath, and find a good thing. Even if it’s tiny, like “Hey, my vacuum still works!” It won’t get rid of the awfulness, but maybe it will lighten your load. If not, wine works, too. Raise a glass to my friend Deb while you’re at it.
To quote my favorite Scottish prayer, “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us; so be quick to love, and make haste to be kind.” And hug your people, people.
*originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA http://www.metrospirit.com