Until now, it has been surprisingly easy to sum up the journey. I’ve tried to report facts and limit the feelings. After all, the point is to give an overview of the path we traveled. The analogy of a path brought to mind the similarities between our journey and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They start in the beautiful shire, but by the end they’re hanging over the lava inside the volcano. Like them, we started with high hopes and an idea of the difficulties ahead. Like them, we had no way of knowing the setbacks we would face and the pain and fatigue those setbacks would cause.
We never planned to join a start up or come on board at an agency, but we were still moving forward toward our original common goal. We were still committed to providing a new future for our family, but now we found ourselves with very different perspectives and feelings of the events that had occurred. Our views had begun to diverge during the start up and joining an agency only made the distance grow.
T had a remarkable ability to let the bad roll off his back and focus only on the long-term good of the decisions being made. He could see us moving toward a better tomorrow full of possibilities. I couldn’t do that. All of the bad was sticking to me as if I’d been tarred and feathered. The negatives might not be permanent, but they all had some impact on current life and that’s where my job existed. I was responsible for keeping us alive, clean, fed, clothed, and housed.
I had a vision of the good possibilities ahead, but the future had already proven itself to be intangible and unreliable. The good was all “ifs” and “whens”. If’s and whens don’t pay the bills and keep shoes on the kids feet. I was mired in the here and now. And the here and now looked a lot like the aftermath of a tornado. We were all battered and exhausted. Funds were running low. So much was broken and I couldn’t fix it. My life was one of chronic disappointment.
Every time, and I mean every single time, I thought the bad was done something new and completely unexpected happened. Mixed up paychecks that left funds short. Cranky clients who had been friends for years. Struggling to find hours when people headed off for holiday vacations. But Christmas was coming and even though life had been rough and the last three Christmases terrible, this was surely going to be the turn around.
Instead on December 22, we ended up with a daughter with a vicious dog bite. The dog bite, which required surgery, became a “gift” that kept on giving. In the immediate we had a tragically wounded twelve year old and a new pile of debt because our contractor’s insurance wasn’t going to cover any of it. Then, on Christmas Day, the furnace went out. Merry Christmas to us.
I’d like to say that was the end, but it wasn’t. T went full time with the agency near the end of January. However, the pay they offered wasn’t what we thought it would be and the benefits weren’t better. February (Valentine’s Day), we learned my father-in-laws cancer was terminal and aggressive. By the end of April, he had passed on.
T had begun traveling for work. We had thought I would be able to go with him, but with all the added expenses and less pay than we thought we’d have, I started making even more sacrifices for the good of the family. None of the things I wanted were practical or necessary and without focusing on the practical and necessary, we weren’t going to make it. The constant practicality, sacrifice, and disappointment started to swamp me.
All of the bad from the previous summer had just continued to grow and compound. Life never evened out to give me a break. Life never quit being oppressive and horrible. Our life had no margin of error. More so every day I felt like the only responsible adult in our house. Sure Topher was there, when he wasn’t traveling, but his days were spent with his friends at work building things that people noticed and appreciated. He had a chance to get away from all the struggles. I was constantly fighting to make life happen and no one seemed to notice.
We tried to talk, but our vocabulary was wrong. We had a lot more understanding than we realized, but our words, while well intended, were not communicating our message. We tried, but ended up only creating misunderstandings and more hurt feelings. In August we had an ugly fight that devastated me. Any hope I had left was just gone. I didn’t see anyway to repair all of the damage. By the time T left for WordCamp San Francisco, I was done. I had nothing left, no answers to any of the problems. I’d reached the spot where I didn’t even care if he came home.