Sometimes, when horrible, tragic, senseless things happen, like 49 innocent people being murdered while they are celebrating life and friendship and love, or when a small child vacationing with his family violently vanishes in the grip of an alligator, it is difficult to understand the grandeur and magnificence of life. If it is a struggle to find and focus on the bliss that truly does surround us. So, when I thought about my post today, the first thing that popped into my brain was: Orlando. Disney. Sadness. Fear. Anger. Lessons. Desire for change.
Then, I stopped to breathe. My mind was spinning. Before Sunday, I had been struck by the generosity of the human spirit and acts of love and kindness. That was what was fueling my family, and that was what I needed to focus on. I needed to lift up examples of human connectivity and generosity right now.
So, I am choosing to focus on the extraordinary love that exists in just my teeny tiny slice of this gigantic world. If I can feel and experience this much goodness, think about the enormity of its power if we all choose to focus on love, empathy, compassion, and understanding. My goal is not to ignore or sweep under the rug the horrible, sad, evil, and just plain mean things that happen. I am not trying to forget lives lost or the hearts that break every day from unexplainable or transparent tragedies. From the massacre to the loss of the vacationing 2-year-old, to the ugliness that ultimately follows as mean-spirited individuals take pleasure in laying blame, calling names, and belittling those suffering, we are surrounded by sadness, monstrosity, and selfishness. Perhaps, I think, through this little blog I can shine a small light on goodness, love, and humanity, to celebrate life instead of sinking into despair or angrily calling for change.
If you read our blog, then you know all about my big whoopsy with the water and the sink and the flood. (If not here’s the link.) We have moved on to full-blown repair mode. My husband has ever so patiently (for him) tended to lining up skilled and amazingly hard-working individuals to rebuild and paint walls, ceilings, and replace our hardwood floors. We thought the refurbish was set for completion last Sunday, and we would be on our way to our version of normalcy. Because of the stench of the polyurethane and the mess created by sanding, the kids and I had been on the lam. We bounced from a small corner of our home to a neighbor’s for a night, then planned a hotel stay for the last two nights.
That’s when we simultaneously hit the wall and were overcome by the generosity of others. Last Friday, when we were two days from being resettled at home, we learned the flooring wasn’t right and needed to pulled up and the process started again. From the beginning. Wood ordered. Delivered. Acclimated to the house. Placed. Sanded. Polyurethaned for three days straight.
I was already feeling like a bit of a gypsy, carting around bags of snacks, papers, summer bridge books, clothes, and toiletries. And now, we were really up a creek—and for two more weeks. All of our furniture was already moved from our house; there was no sense in returning it only to move it again. The house reeked to high heaven, as did everything in it. Staying there would not be possible. I was in a tizzy, overwhelmed, frustrated, and feeling a bit lost. We are too big of a brood for two weeks in a hotel room, so I looked into renting a nearby beach house to make the most out of the debacle. Unfortunately, most were already rented, there was a clear reason they weren’t, or cost the amount of my first year’s college tuition to rent. If I was going to spend that kind of money, I had better be on vacation, not a fifteen minute drive from home and still carting my kids to swim team and camps.
Where’s all this love and bliss I promised? It started in the form of a text. At the kids’ swim team practice, a friend asked how the flooring was going. I shared the story, at that time thinking we were two nights from home, and set for some brief together time at the hotel. A couple hours later I get a text from a different friend who overheard the conversation and just learned of our rehab situation. She says her family is headed to the airport and she and her husband insist that we stay at their house during the repairs. I had just gotten the bad news that we were essentially homeless for two weeks and was struggling with the idea of being displaced, figuring out what to do with the dogs, how to survive two more weeks as a gypsy. Then DING! a miracle. At first, I thought, no way! We can’t stay there, we don’t know them that well. That’s way too much of an imposition. Way too much for us to accept. My husband convinced me to say yes to the gift, to thank our friends and the universe for this lucky alignment of the stars, and even more astounding, the selfless generosity of our friends.
That evening we ”moved” into their house, I tucked my kids into beds. I unloaded bags. Sorted through mail. Paid bills. Finally, felt for the first time in a week that I could settle and be. I felt at home even though I was nowhere close to actually going home. It was the greatest gift that anyone could have given me on that day. It came from left field, totally unsolicited and purely motivated without expectation of anything in return. They offered us, without a second thought their home on a moment’s notice. And it was so much more than that. It was a safe, beautiful place to land, to catch our breath, spread out, collect ourselves, and prepare for the upcoming weeks in flux. Of course, they offered to keep us on after they returned, but I could barely stand being around my three kids, and I’m certainly not going to inflict them upon anyone else. A crew of five is a lot to take on, especially when it is my rowdy bunch.
We were floored by the first offer of hospitality, and felt equally blessed as other friends heard about our wonky homelessness and offered to bring us dinner, share their space during the days while they were at work, entertain us at their pools, pour me a nice stiff drink and let me vent, take my kids for a few hours, and again, share their home with us while they were at home or away. While I’m trying to calm my type-A issues of not being settled and organized, living out of bags and piecing together outfits from stuffed suitcases, I’m even more grateful to know so many compassionate people, willing to hand us the keys to their homes and do all they can to make our lives livable. We are blessed to call people of such caliber our friends.
So, while the world teems with hate, evil, sadness, and tragedy, it also shines with light, love, compassion and pure unselfishness. I know. The warmth from that fire has kept me sane, made me laugh, and pulled me back from the brink of despair. It has reminded me that, no matter what our circumstances—extreme like mine, or just a slight bump in an otherwise calm road, love and goodness can be found. We just have to look for it, focus on it, and lift it up—acknowledge and be grateful for it.
Jimmy Fallon said it perfectly in his message following the shooting in Orlando, “There will always be more love than hate.”
Always. Live with love.
Thank you to all of you who have shared your hearts and homes with us. We have been overcome with gratitude and awe.