In January 2019 unbeknownst to me, I was entering a new chapter of my life. On January 2nd I started my first fulltime job in decades, I had been married for decades and the trajectory of my life seemed set and stable, almost concrete. Three weeks later my marriage imploded and my azimuth was obliterated.
The general manager at the real estate brokerage where I was working as a marketing coordinator had been an 8th grade student the first year I started my career teaching in 1996. We had roamed the same halls in different roles, and now we were once again roaming the same halls. I was new to the industry and the student had become the teacher. Walking into his office the day after my husband left our home was an embarrassing and humbling experience. He was kind and reassuring and in my time of need I dropped the hunky-dory dandy façade and we formed a bond.
He looked at me as tears rolled down my face and said, “It’s ok not to be ok.”
I have always struggled with vulnerability. My humor has masked a myriad of emotions and it was my safe zone and respite. If you make them laugh they will not see your pain. But my humor also hindered my grieving process. It effectively put my pain on ice and spared me some precious moments of discomfort, but the pain was inevitable. Iced or not it would be felt.
Music was a form of expression for Paul and he would share a song here and there. One day a Ben Rector song was playing when I dropped paperwork off in his office and he told me to listen. It was called, “Peace” and I felt a lump form in my throat as I stood quietly and listened to the lyrics streaming from his computer speaker.
“I used to worry about the future, but the future never came
Tried livin’ in the past, but never did quite feel the same
I used to think that there was a place I would rather be
‘Til I got there enough times to realize that you are only ever here”
“You are only ever here . . .that is a great line” he said as he clicked away at his keyboard. My lump gave way to tears and I quickly wiped them away embarrassed by my show of emotion. I worried, second-guessed and wondered about every minuscule detail of my life for months and I was missing where I stood that very moment. I was healthy, employed and surrounded by people who loved and cared for me.
Fast forward to March 2020 and I am divorced, half a century old and life once again has upended itself. The world is being held hostage by an invisible enemy and the routines we looked to for stability and structure have been snatched away. The unknown seems to be the only constant. People are scared and reactionary but as the shock of isolation and the unfamiliar give way to a new normal I remember the song Paul shared and I am reminded of the good fortune I have to stay isolated but surrounded by my immediate family.
“You are only ever here.”
I am here, I am present and I am thankful. My distractions are minimal and my blessings are evident if I can let the past and future just be. Americans have shown we are imperfect but capable of compassion, kindness and unity. We are here and we are living and loving as best we can.
It’s ok not to be ok, but live and love where you are.
One day at a time.
“Sometimes in life, a sudden situation, a moment in time, alters your whole life, forever changes the road ahead.” ― A. Ardalan