My day last Wednesday felt like it was going off the rails, like everything was blowing up at once. A good friend got some bad health news. My wife had to go for a medical test — one of those annoying “everything looks good but we’d still like you to come in and take another test to be sure” kind of tests. Another friend was having a tough time dealing with the mass shootings in Buffalo and Laguna. (This was obviously before Tuesday’s shooting at the Texas elementary school, where a gunman barricaded himself in a classroom and killed 19 children and two teachers.)
The news on the television wasn’t much better, Ukraine was continuing to get hammered by the Russians, sending Ukrainian refugees running for their lives, and the stock market inched closer to Bear Market territory.
I didn’t know what to say to either friend, or even to my wife. Heck, I wasn’t even sure what to tell myself. When I shut down my work laptop for the day, I felt beat and questioned why life has to be so hard. If you’re a religious person, you say God has a larger plan. If you’re not religious, you say everything comes down to fate, to being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time.
In need of a pick-me-up
I needed some positive news. I started looking through some of the old photos on my phone. I came quickly to a picture of my middle son’s arrival home from California last December. I love the picture because his older sister and brother “attacked him” with a hug in the middle of Baggage Claim. The three of them didn’t care about looking out-of-place or showing emotion in the sterile, emotionless airport, they cared about connecting with each other.
I thought of other times when the kids were happy to see us. I thought of the many times my wife, or I picked up the kids from school when they were in elementary school or kindergarten. They weren’t embarrassed by us yet, like kids get in middle school or high school. They couldn’t wait to run and give us a hug. I used to say that I could live off one of those hugs for a year and it still holds true today.
My mind floated back to many different memories too, anniversaries and graduations. They all give me a smile, grateful to have the experiences on speed dial when I need them.
Saying “I do”
When I’m especially anxious, I find myself often twisting my wedding band around and around, on my index finger. I think back to our wedding day, saying our vows, and the challenges that we’ve worked to overcome. We’ve stuck together through thick and thin.
The thought instantly brings a smile to my face.
If that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll turn on some music. I may not like a certain song or genre – can you say Disco – but music has a way of turning my emotions.
Get out of the house
Finally, I go for a walk or even do some chores around the house. It’s hard to take in the smell of fresh cut grass and not feel happy to be alive. When I went back inside, I’m not sure I had an answers but I felt better about life. I prayed for the right words to say to my friends. I still couldn’t find them, but I felt better able to be by their side and listen. Life is hard, but it’s a heck of lot of easier when we have a friend willing to be there with us.
Yes, that’s me, looking for the glimmer of hope.