Sometimes when I am inspired to write about a certain topic triggered by life’s events, it feels really raw and takes me a little time to put that rawness into words. That is just what happened a couple of weeks ago…
It was a beautiful day for baseball – 80 degrees, sunny and February! My high school alma mater was hosting the annual Alumni vs Varsity Baseball Game, so I thought it would be a fun way to enjoy the weather, see some old friends and re-experience all those seasons I was a baseball mom. So on that glorious day, as we ventured into the 5th inning, I watched him fall to the ground. My old high school friend from his year’s championship-winning team, rounding 3rd base and then collapsing. In the stands, we weren’t immediately sure what to think, until one of the coaches, a firefighter by day, began screaming orders. “Somebody call 911,” “Go get the defibrillator,” he yelled as one of the trainers joined him to do continuous CPR on my friend’s lifeless body. For every count, I prayed for my friend. For every count, I prayed for his family. For every count, I prayed for his wife. I had only met her once. What would she do if something happened to her husband, her partner? I was afraid for her.
Not quite a week later, a dear friend invited me to a fundraising luncheon for the Modern Widows Club Dallas Chapter – a club no woman wants to be a part of, yet my sweet friend and at least 50 women in that room were included in that club. Their founder delivered the Keynote Address and talked a bit about what it feels like when you become a widow, so many of these women under the age of 60. As she talked about the fear that comes with suddenly losing that household income, the helplessness that comes with not knowing who to call or what to do when something goes wrong with the house, the plumbing, the yard or the fence. My eyes brimmed with tears as she described the call from a sobbing widow who, just a month after her husband’s funeral, looked outside to find weeds coming up in the cracks of the concrete walkway and driveway and not knowing who to call or what to do “because my husband always took care of this kind of thing.”
Both scenarios left me so raw and the fear was so familiar. Not because I have been widowed and grief-stricken as so many of these women at the luncheon had been. But because I have been suddenly thrust into a situation, so many years ago, that left me alone with young children and wondering what to do. Oh, I had always managed our household bills, so now I was just doing it with a much smaller income. But when the Internet wasn’t working the night before my son’s paper was due or the fence needed repair, I struggled. Not just because of the money it would cost to remedy, but at the onset it was the panic of who to call? How to fix this? Every time, I felt so helpless again and again and again. In those days I learned a LOT about what “putting on your big girl panties” truly means for so many women.
So let me ask you, SHE friends…if something happened to your spouse, your partner or the person you count on to do things you know nothing about in your household or in your business, would you know what to do? Would you know whom to call?
I’m not writing this to panic you. I am writing this to, well, just say it out loud for ME as much as it is for you. As I have watched Scott, my now-husband of 9 years, so skillfully handle so many things in our home over the years, I am proud of the fact that despite my panic at the time (before Scott), I figured out how to fix, whom to call, what to do. But that was in spite of lots of tears, fear and helplessness. There is nothing crueler than the feeling that you will never be enough for your children, who now rely only upon you. Today, Scott would be the first person to tell you that my panic becomes evident when he is fixing something for me and I don’t know how he did it. Sometimes, in a shrill voice, I make him show me every step. Every home repair provider is now in my Contacts list. I manage our home budget and know both our income and our debts.
Why? Because I do not every want to feel the way I did so many years ago after a tragedy left me alone with two young children. I think many of the women in the room at that luncheon would echo my sentiments. SHE friends, there is no room in our lives for chosen helplessness. So here is this week’s challenge: pick one thing that you do not know about your household income, your household debts, your “go to” repair service providers, the name and contact information of your banker/attorney/CPA or maybe how to use the tools in your garage and LEARN IT.
Ignorance can be catastrophic. In knowledge there is strength and there is comfort. Try it and let me know how it goes.
Oh, and not to leave you hanging: my high school friend was successfully revived on that baseball field, made it to the hospital and after a heart procedure is doing quite well. His wife and kids are, I am sure, at peace. And my sweet and beautiful girlfriend who lost her husband way too young six years ago, has raised their children to be incredible young adults and despite her demure demeanor, I know what a tough cookie she really is. I could not be more proud to call her my friend.
Note from the SHE Files: In knowledge there is strength and there is comfort.