It’s been a year. It has been one full trip around the sun since the day when the rug felt pulled from under my feet. That day, I remember so well, was the one day I was most scared, unsure of my future, fearful of what the next days held. Little did I know, on that day one year ago, that what I didn’t think could get much worse, actually could. Yet, as I stand here today, looking back one year, I see that, given time, life turned itself right-side up again. One year.
The afternoon of July 14, 2016, I sat in my office at work and heard the familiar ‘ding’ of an incoming email. My heart sank when I read that the company for which I had worked for 20 years — and helped start — was being sold to an out-of-state company. The nature of the sale left the writing on the wall very clear to me: my job would be eliminated. Every nerve was raw as I wondered where I would find work in my small town. Would I have to move? How long could I make the payments on my house? Would I have to sell? What if I didn’t find another job for a while? If I had to move, where could I go that I could take my dogs? What if, heaven forbid, I had to give them away?
It is amazing to me how many thoughts can run through the human mind in times of high stress. Rapid-fire thoughts had me making a resume, applying at other businesses, downsizing, and moving in a matter of seconds. In those early moments, I was resigned to the idea of selling my house and using the equity to buy a camper in which to live. The dogs and I could surely manage to eek out a living to sustain that.
It was five days until I met with the owners of the new company and was offered a new position. In those five days, I had moved from abject fear to quiet resolve and back again, as I developed a Plan B, Plan C, and all the way to about Plan Q for what to do. Those were the five longest days of my life.
The summer that wouldn’t stop
When I was offered the new position, the fear did not subside. What if I didn’t like it? What if I couldn’t do it? What if the new company didn’t like my work? All of those questions were silenced when my brother-in-law died unexpectedly, two days later. What I remember was sitting on the floor of the break room at work, having just learned of his death moments before, with my friend of 20 years sitting on the floor next to me. She was talking to me, trying to console me, but her words were not making sense. I could see she was talking, but I could not understand her. I was trapped in some sort of emotional fog that would not let me loose. She sat with me and talked to me, eventually getting me to my feet again.
In the weeks to come, my friend’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, my dear uncle died, and I began an intensive training program for the new job. The Summer of 2016 just would not let us up, and kept punching us back down to the mat. It was the year that would not cut us a break. Yet, somewhere in the few quiet moments that I found amid the chaos, I heard the words my father said to me when we moved from Memphis — the only home I had known – to rural Arkansas at the age of 14, “Give it six months.”
With any major life change, give it some time to sort itself out before passing judgment.
The writer that wouldn’t stop
The reader might be asking, “Rita, why do you keep talking about this?” Indeed, it is a subject about which I have written previously, whether in a dream-like state or in the early days of sorting it out, but one for which I will not apologize for redressing over the last year. You see, if one person reads this and finds a little motivation to keep going, then it is all worth it. You never know what words you say, which stories you tell, that may be the exact words another needs to hear at that moment in their lives. If this story of resilience has a chance of helping one other person, then all of it is worth it.
That’s why I write about it — for that one person who may need it.
Now, one year after the most frightening day of my life, my world looks somewhat restored. Will it ever be the way it was before? No, but life does not offer those guarantees. Will life be navigable again? Yes. This is where I say emphatically, “YES.” Will I miss the way it was before? Sure, and the memories of the people I lost will always be in my heart and on my mind. Yet, the changes that life gives you — sometimes throwing them at you — can be survived. Your spirit can survive. There may be tears, screaming, fear, sleeplessness, and grief, but given a bit of time, you can get through it.
Last week, I wrote a quick note that read:
Dear One: The fact that you are standing here means your success rate for getting through the tough stuff in life is 100%. Do you realize that? My money is on you. ~ The Universe
While I wrote that in a post on my Instagram feed to offer encouragement to anyone who might need a boost in that moment, I think I was really writing it to myself. It stands as a reminder that as long as I keep plodding along in my continued work to make a life, even in the midst of terrible setbacks, I can get to the other side of it. When I look at all the trials I have had in my life — and I’m still here — I see that I got through those. And life is turning out okay. If I got through those, then I have a good chance of getting through the next hurdle that comes my way. I didn’t always see life in that manner, but age and experience have shown me that life can be good again, even after the blows.
The reader who shouldn’t stop
Look at all you have been through in your life. You got through that. You did it. You! Whatever comes your way next — though it may be covered in muck or unimaginably painful — you can get through that, too. You can make a life on the other side of difficulty. You can make a life on the other side of grief. You can make a life on the other side adversity. You know why I know? Because you are here, and that means you’ve already done it before, so I know you can do it again. You’re experienced in this. You’ve got this.