Andrew called home on Monday night asking for some advice. Why might water be leaking from his freezer? While we suggested that perhaps his freezer door hadn’t been properly closed, that was only wishful thinking. On Tuesday morning, he called to tell me that he had gone to the fridge for a glass of milk, and everything was warm. He called the building super and was told that a repairman would be sent out the next day. The next day??? I wanted to hop in my car immediately and bring my son a cooler and some ice. He doesn’t have a cooler in Chicago, and he doesn’t even know anyone to call to borrow a cooler.
As a mother, I was extremely frustrated. I hate, hate, hate anything to go wrong in my kids’ lives. I hated the idea of every single item in my son’s refrigerator spoiling. I hated the idea that he didn’t have milk to pour on his cereal! The repairman came today, and he pronounced his refrigerator dead. Andrew called the building super, and the super basically washed his hands of the problem. Andrew then called the apartment management company, but the person he needed to speak to was out of the office. He left a voice mail, and then he called me. Once again, I felt helpless. I hated being hundreds of miles away from my son. I hated that I could not immediately fix this problem.
I sent T a text and asked him to deposit some money in Andrew’s account so that he could at least get a decent meal. My phone rang, and it was T. He was quick to tell me that he was NOT going to deposit money into our son’s account. “He is handling this just fine. Let him figure things out on his own.” As frustrated as I was, and as much as I wanted to fix things for my son, I knew T was right. These kind of experiences are all a part of growing up, becoming an adult, and learning to become independent. Later, when I spoke to my son, he was upbeat. He was fine. He told me that while he had initially been very angry, he realized that getting angry over the situation was a waste of energy.
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy these past few days fretting over my son’s refrigerator problems. Along with that worry, there has been no shortage of other things to worry about. So many areas in my life have seemed less than desirable. I am still battling this plague of an illness. I lost another weekend to almost constant coughing and sleeping. I have too much to do at work, or too many things that I feel the need to accomplish. Looming over my stress at work is the knowledge that I will be out of the office for so many days this month. I once loved to travel for work. What I once considered to be a fun opportunity, I am now viewing as a huge hassle.
I didn’t have any plans for lunch today, and that bummed me out, too. I didn’t want to be alone, so I decided to head to the mall. I had received an email coupon from a local store this morning offering 40% off the Yellow Dot items. The Yellow Dot items had already been marked down up to 75%! This one-day offer was too good to pass up. When I announced my lunchtime plans to the office, I suddenly had company on my shopping trip. We hit the store and spread out. Occasionally, one of us would hold high our find for the others to see.
We allowed ourselves a half hour, and then we met for a bite of lunch before heading back to the office. We had a great time showing our incredible purchases to each other while we ate. I bought a $69 pair of shoes for under $10, a Calvin Klein t-shirt regularly priced at $32 for under $5, and a cute necklace for $2. It was one of my finest moments of retail therapy!
This afternoon, I worked for a couple of hours on legal documents. After a while, I felt closed in and the words were beginning to swim in front of my eyes. My throat felt gritty from not speaking, and my legs were stiff from sitting still for too long. I stood up, stretched, and realized that it was already almost 4:00 p.m. I needed to put gas in my car before the drive home. Also, I really wanted an icy cold Pepsi, so I took a break and headed out to the convenience store. I swiped my debit card and left the car to fill up while I went inside for a Pepsi. I grabbed a Snickers bar and a Super Big Gulp. While I waited in line, I listened to the conversations around me. One man came in and paid for $8 worth of gas in cash with a mixture of bills and coins. Obviously, he had scraped that much money together to buy gas for his car. I imagined myself in his situation. Was he struggling to afford enough gas to get him to work or to pick up his kids from school? As I paid for my junk food, I looked up at the cashier. She was about my age, yet she called me “honey.” She was missing a couple of teeth. I imagined myself working a minimum wage job behind the counter of a convenience store. How DARE I complain about my job-related stress? I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed of my continuous pity party.
I called T as I drove back to the office. He was surprised to hear from me at that time of day. I told him that I wanted him to listen to me for a minute. I told him about what I had just witnessed at the convenient store. Too often, we take our good fortune very much for granted. Here I was, leaving my great job in the middle of the afternoon to fill up my car and to avoid the traffic later. I filled my brand new car up with gas without even giving a thought as to how much it was going to cost. In fact, I had driven away from the gas pump without a clue as to how much I had paid for the transaction. I went in and bought a Pepsi and a Snickers bar without giving a thought to the couple of dollars I so easily spent on empty calories. These are small things to us, but to many people, the ability of top off their gas tank or waste a couple of dollars on a snack are luxuries they can only dream of. T laughed at me, but he did agreed that we don’t spend enough time being grateful or acknowledging all of the good things in our lives.
I have spent a great deal of time these past two weeks complaining about being sick, yet I have medical insurance, medication, and paid sick days. Most importantly, I will recover. My son is merely inconvenienced by not having a refrigerator in working order. Many people don’t have someone to call to replace such a necessary item. If he wants a cold drink, all he has to do is walk to the CVS around the corner. In three days, he will have a new refrigerator, and he has money enough to stock it full of fresh groceries.
Tonight, I have spent some time in quiet reflection. While my daughters are watching some goofy paranormal show on TV, T is laying on the floor playing with our sweet little puppy. Pepper the Wondercat in snuggled by my side keeping a close watch over us all .
My glass in not half empty. In fact, it is very, very full.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder