The night fell upon us slowly. This particular pool only afforded us four operating swim lanes. The seventy seven heats with as many as five or six different races in some of the many heats would keep us at this out of town event for much longer than usual. Most pools in our division of the summer time swim league have six lanes racing swimmers from five to nineteen years old at a time. With ominous clouds sparsely filling the overhead sky, we might even have to halt things for a little thunder warning. It would be a long evening.
At one point, a summer-time friend (a sweet friend whom I would L.O.V.E to spend more time, but really only get to see during our pre-arranged summer swim events) asked me how I was doing. “Really, well. How ’bout you?” I answered. Knowing our conversation would be halted by an expected interruption of something like a child in need of attention or a race to watch or a job to do, I hesitated.
water splashes. screams abound. “GO!GO!GO!GO!GO!” is heard barreling from our head coach, her go-team-voice as rich and deep and wide as many-a-man there and you are made to wonder how a full-time librarian from a private, Catholic school can create such a sound.
Probing further, my friend says, “You seem different this year. Is everything okay? You don’t seem to be as upbeat as usual. Are you alright?”
I swallow hard ….. a knot in my throat that almost prevents air from passing into my lungs as I stand frozen and breathe deep.
When people ask, “How are you?” and I sense they want to know more, I will most often reply, “Do you want the Sunday School answer or the real answer?” with a chuckle. Most of my life, the two are one and the same. They are positive. They are authentic. They are real. They are heartfelt.
But, there are those days, when the answer is more than a two-liner that needs to be completed before the teacher begins the lesson. The answer is intricate. It is dense.
It takes more than an unkind word to shake me. It takes more than being cut off in traffic or a flat tire or a broken treasure or a stain on my shirt on the way to an outing. It takes a lot. It takes three or four or five things – at once time. I have to truly feel overwhelmed with unplanned, unwanted events to have my perspective questioned or shaken.
So, I take a deep breath
and I search her eyes
for the answer to my wondering question:
what do I say?
Do I tell her ….
I have a hole in my roof that continues to leak
and I am too afraid to get up on the roof and fix it?
My dental insurance expires in seven days
and I have to have a procedure done that scares me to trembles?
My van is in the shop and has been for three weeks
and the source of it’s problem cannot be pinpointed
so I find myself a week into my summer break
(that is only three weeks long)
in a family of three adult drivers sharing one car
because James’ car is also malfunctioning at the moment?
That I began planning/making reservations
for a trip to Florida back around January
for my youngest and I
but had to cancel all reservations because of my van’s issues.
That I need food, litter, medicines, shampoo for our
dogs, cats and birds that total well over $250.00
but I cannot bring myself to give any one of these pets away
because they are part of the stability that I feel I can offer my children
in a world that feels reeling and out of control.
And it’s not that I don’t HAVE the money,
just that it’s difficult to spend that much on … fur and feathers.
That tomorrow is my oldest’s 21st birthday and
… I can’t fix “it” for him,
I can only point him to the only answer I know
… the only true Strength in all of our weakness….
that only God can be the direction and help that we all need.
Do I tell her …. that I am exhausted?
I go with another answer. One as true as any and all of those above.
This year, I’ve had trouble with my joints. I’ve not been able to exercise and I find that I don’t have the energy that I do when I exercise. Even though the days are longer, I don’t feel as good as I usually do during the summer. (I don’t mention that, honestly, I think it may have something to do with caffeine intake. But, I cannot seem to bring myself to drop my cherished cup of morning deliciousness that gently, slowly with warmth, wakes me with the birds and the light.)
So, we chat for a moment and she goes on to ask me a handful of questions …. that make me fully aware that she does not even know that I am a single mom now.
She does not know I am divorcing. I do not tell her. We are running short of time. A child or a race to watch or a job to do will step in any moment. There is no time. I revert back to Sunday school mode waiting for the teacher to begin the lesson. Maybe I will tell her later ….
right now … I am just too exhausted.