“This year is not last year….You are wiser in all the ways that times makes us wise…You are braver in all the ways that life compels us to be brave…believing in your own strength makes it real…”
Why, then, am I sobbing like a baby? Why, then, was it so easy for me to panic? Why, then, was I overwhelmed with my cowardice in the face of a problem?
The beautiful quote is part of one sent by Mary Morgan to her mom, my friend Patti. When I first read the entire quote, I renewed my belief that I could do this thing–this new normal life thing that forces compliance. I believed to the extent that I left the house, met my friend Karol for lunch. Karol was her usual kind-hearted self and I felt better, believed a little more. Reads like a baby step, but it was parasailing without the sail.
A few hours later, the furnace malfunctioned again. Thermostat stopped working and changing the battery was not the answer. My son, several hours away and at night shift work, had offered to change the thermostat next week. My nephew, on 3:00 to 11:00 duty as a police officer has offered to change the thermostat on his next day off, Monday.
So–was I wiser, braver or stronger than the last two times the furnace stopped working? After changing the battery, did I calmly form a plan to get through to Monday? I did not.
I panicked big time. I cried in the frustration of subzero temperature and visions of frozen pipes. I found the number of the guy I had already paid twice to find the problem. He had the money and I still had the problem. I erased that number from the book and paced a bit longer.
Shall I phone neighbors Steve and Lisa? Ask for advice? Get the number of their furnace guy? What if they think I want Steve to fix the problem? What if they are busy? What if they are eating dinner? What if I become an old woman pest? What if I cry over the phone? What if Bob really is aware of what a mess I am without him?
What if….Another part of the beautiful quote is “It’s so easy to focus on the ways that you let yourself down.” I did that. I focused on the mess that I am. I let myself down. Panicked. Cried–sobbed actually, completely out of proportion to the problem, I gave into this awful sadness that seems to consume my real self, leaving this empty woman. Or is this woman who I am now not truly empty, but rather hobbled by false pride–the false pride that says, “I can do this alone”— when I absolutely know that I cannot do it alone. How far down is that!
Picked up the phone and dialed.
Calm, kind and reassuring, Steve gave me the number of his furnace guy. No problem. Steve and Lisa were leaving for the evening so Steve gave me his own cell number in case I could not reach his friend, the furnace guy.
Not once did Steve say that I was being an old woman pest. Not once did he hint that he was too busy for panic calls. Not once did he let on that my voice betrayed my lack of wisdom or bravery or strength. Not once did he remind me that just yesterday he had said I should phone if I needed anything, anything at all. Not once.
When he asked if he could do anything, he meant it as a question to be answered. Help sincerely offered. Maybe, at this moment, I actually am a bit wiser. I know I am a bit calmer.
Lord, how I wish that part of time that is supposed to be so healing could fast forward just a bit, push me into wiser, braver, stronger.