Last week, I sat down in a cloud of woe and wrote about having to go back down a road I thought was closed. Life has taught me many valuable lessons over the past few years but this one seems to be taking a while to sink in: never say never. Right? When we say something like "Never again!" it's almost as if the universe hears it and says, rubbing her universal hands together, "we shall see about that, Jenny!"
So I did what I find the most therapeutic, and wrote about it. Not seeking attention, not looking for sympathy. Just writing because that's what I do. I've found that when I expose the sometimes-grungy underbelly that is being a divorced woman, it reaches people. Other women who are going through the same shit come out, wanting to talk about it. Wanting to feel less alone. Women who have gone through it, and came out alive, come out. They want to offer support to those of us still there. Women who have never gone through this ordeal come out, just wanting to offer hugs and shoulders to cry on and love.
For a very long time, I kept quiet about the day to day struggle because it was shameful to me. I walked among the "normal" people in my world and kept up appearances for as long as I could. But it wasn't until I began telling the truth that I realized appearances aren't worth keeping up and the "normal" people had stories they were hiding, too.
When I wrote that post, I wasn't looking for handouts. I wasn't asking for help. Promise. I was sad and defeated. You know why? Because I had slipped back into the habit of keeping up appearances. Life was, and is, good. Just like the t-shirts tell us. But life can and will always surprise us and damn if life doesn't throw a few wrenches into the cogs now and then.
Life can also throw a few bouquets in there, too. My kids and I saw that this week. Again.
The night after the post was published, we were all home. Dinner had been made, dishes were done and we were all settling into that weeknight groove. Homework, laundry, maybe mom starting to snore on the couch. My daughter, Molly, still home from college on winter break heard it.
A noise at the front door. Walter the wonder watch dog, did squat. Molly went to the door and came back into the living room holding an envelope. She handed it to me and said, "Someone just dropped this off, Mom." I opened it up and saw this:
|That's $300 to a local grocery store, people.|
At first I thought I'd read the amount wrong. But no. It really said "$300.00". You know what I did for the next hour? Walked around the house, holding that card out in front of me like a license plate and saying "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD." I pressed Molly for details. "Did you see the car? What did it look like?" to which she answered, "It's dark outside, Mom."
Henry looked at it and said, "Who would do that? That's so much money!" William just smiled and then pushed me out of his room. Charlie hugged me.
This grocery gifting ninja warmed up my cold sad heart and it felt ahhhhmazing. It's also going to keep our fridge stocked for pretty much a whole month. Thank you, ninja. Thank you so much.
That's not all, folks. Several of you commented on that post, urging me to set up a GoFundMe page or donation site. I can't, won't do that. Those are for people who are truly in need. Like families with sick kids or a house fire or something else way beyond my little bubble of sad. Certainly not for a putzy single mom who likes to talk a lot about how great life can be after divorce and yet, always seems to be a day late and a dollar short.
A friend from high school, a guy who is the bee's knees and who reads my blog, called me up and said, "What are you doing? Get your computer and log onto Paypal. We're setting up a tip jar for your blog. Now."
I have some uncomfortableness with this, and not just because uncomfortableness isn't a word. (psst Jenny it's discomfort). Asking for help isn't easy. It's not something I do well or often. Hardly ever and only under great duress. I told my friend this and he said "Shut up. Here's what you do" and walked me, step-by-step, through the Blog Tip Jar process. It took about five minutes and then took another 2 hours for me to actually work up the guts to put it here on the blog. Even now, four days later, it looks kind of weak and lame to me.
But, that night, Paypal sent me several emails. A donation. Then another, and another. Over the next few days, they came in. Each one hit me in the gut. The ones with notes made me cry. Okay, fine, they ALL made me cry because in my mind, in my heart, I'm not worthy of this. You beautiful perfect strangers who wouldn't know me or my kids if we jumped in your lap and said "HOWDY", reached into your own pockets and gave to my family.
You are now investors in this business and so I want you to know where your money is going. A little bit went to fill up my gas tank. For the first time in weeks I filled that sucker to the top instead of standing there, tapping the trigger until it hit exactly $5.00. Thank you.
A little bit is going to buy my 15 year old a couple of sweatshirts. He's had a growth spurt and has been wearing the same three or four for the past month and I'll be getting him some new ones. Thank you.
A smidgen of it will be used for a bikini wax. LOL. Kidding. Just checking to see if you're awake. And now you're nauseous, too. Sorry.
The rest of it is going to stay right there. It's not going to be touched until we need to touch it. I hope that's okay. What you've given me is a cushion and it's the prettiest, cushiest cushion I've ever laid my old tired eyes on. Thank you doesn't seem like enough but it's all I've got. So thank you.
There were other random acts of kindness too. One of you sent me a Target e-gift card. Oh girl. Target? Be still my broke ass heart. I'll be Cartwheeling that mofo, guaranteed. Thank you.
One of you reached out and paid to renew our Costco membership. You know that brings tears to my eyes. Brings them and then pours them down my cheeks. Thank you.
Someone who will from here on out be known simply as the Meat Angel dropped off a bag of, you guessed it- MEAT. High quality goodness from a local butcher shop. On taco night, we clinked our tortillas in your name, Meat Angel. Thank you.
One of you took advantage of the always-open driver's side window of my car and plopped two super cute bottles of wine on the front seat. At least, I hope it was one of you. If not, thank you confused stranger. It's going to be a while before my poverty-stricken body darkens the door of a liquor store, so again, thank you.
And then, today at work. Wednesdays and Thursdays are my late days. I work as a para from around 11:15 until 2:00, and then do the office stuff until 6:15. When I walked into the office at 2:00, my coworker handed me another envelope. "Someone dropped this off for you, Jenny" she said, and I knew it was from one of you before I even touched it. It just glowed.
Now, for the record, I've been under the weather this week. I had a fever and the achy chills stuff Sunday and Monday, and a weird sore throat accompanied by an almost narcoleptic falling asleep on the couch thing ever since. I'm holding off on going into the Minute Clinic for a strep test. Not so much because of the $70 bill but mostly because I dread the moment the nurse comes in, sizes up my meaty arms with her eyes and reaches for the X-LONG blood pressure cuff.
So I'm feeling understandably vulnerable right now.
I took the envelope and opened it. I read the enclosed card and then I started bawling. Like, straight up ugly face sobbing. My poor befuddled coworker grabbed a box of tissues and handed them to me. I took a moment to compose myself, and then read the card, out loud, to my office mates:
These words. And a Costco gift card. The Costco thing of course made me verklempt, but these words! OOooh. Just looking at them again is making my chin do that quiver thing and the little letters on the screen turn all wavy. I would never, in a million years, use any of these words to describe myself. Dream-chaser? Goal reacher? MAGNIFICENT? Nah. But to know someone else thought they were apropos? Well. Color me humbled.
Humbled and thankful. Every time something like this, like a greeting card full of kind words or a donation from a stranger or a bag of meat shows up, it's like a big hug from some unseen, comforting entity. It's all of you telling me to hang in there. It's my kids learning once again how absolutely good the world is. It's people being kind even though they don't have to be.
All I have to offer in return is my gratitude and my promise that I am going to keep trying, every day, to pay it all forward. To be that hug for someone else, to be good, to be kind even though I don't have to be. I am drenched in gratitude tonight, and always, for what you all have given to my kids and to me.