There is silence, only filled with ticking clocks.
My phone is in my hand, and I ask him to repeat himself.
"We lost our contract. My locations are closing. My job will be gone in two weeks."
I ask him to repeat again.
He knows the drill. He knows how I get. I need information. I need details....
But this time, I need no information...
I don't ask for details...
I just ask him to repeat. Over, and over. And, he does.
It was 8 weeks that my husband was away. 8 weeks with university credits, two homeschooled boys, and a little baby. 8 weeks alone. My sanity saving graces were my friends, my family, and also the vision I had of joining Kurt in Utah. Ah, Utah- the place on earth we most feel at home.
Kurt had already posted his resume. Already called around. Already scheduled interviews. He had two weeks before his job was gone, and he planned on looking for work in the meantime.
Interviews. More interviews. More and more interviews.
"We will call you next week!" "We will put together an offer!" "We will get the ball rolling."
The hardest part of this process, by far, has been trying to stay positive. Actually, if we are all being honest here, that part was downright depressing. The kids were sick with the flu and a virus, my husband was losing his job, and I was so overcome I just couldn't handle the idea of trying to "stay positive!" one more time. No. From the realization of our old income (Thanks, Uncle Sam, for giving me the opportunity to handle a tangible reminder of all the money we no longer have. Next time, I will hire an accountant....), to Seraphina's health dead-ends (her appointment is scheduled for a doctor in Utah), to this- I was just done with the "be positive!" attitude. DONE.
Even Pollyanna got depressed when she hit her limit...
I told my closest friends. I called my parents. I only alerted those who I knew, without a doubt, would offer me their support.
The last thing I needed was criticism or judgement. In my mind, I could hear it. "Wow. Her husband lost ANOTHER job. He must be shady..." "No one has such bad luck. They must be doing something wrong..." "They claim to have financial hardship, but her car is nicer than mine- how hard could it be?" "This is God's way of punishing them for something..."
No, I didn't need it. I couldn't even handle the threat of it. So I kept close, and kept it on a need to know basis. We needed time to gather, process, plan. We needed time to lick our wounds and figure things out. We needed space. We needed encouragement. We needed those we love and who love us. So, very few knew. Mostly, very few knew because I was disappointed in how badly I was handling it. Normally, yes, I have a bit of a challenge during trials, but this... this was bad. I couldn't see a lining. Heck, I couldn't even see the light. The tunnel felt like more of an abyss, and the journey felt like one atop Everest without an oxygen tank. I was so tired, and had pushed so hard, and to have this hit was just overwhelming. Positive? Be positive? Stay positive? I was positive that the next person to say that to me would be (in my mind) slapped.
A wise friend offered: "What about neutral?"
I never thought of that...
"Some things aren't positive, but they don't have to be catastrophes either."
"[Being positive] puts too much pressure on you. And you're right, its not realistic/possible. If something difficult happens... sometimes its just pain. But it wont always be that way, it's just for now."
(Right about now you are wishing you had friends as wise as mine, right?)
She went on to say, "It's all in how you think. If you think it is a catastrophe, it will feel like one. And overwhelming If you think it's manageable, but unfortunate, you will feel sad, but capable."
So I waited.
My family calls daily, sometimes multiple times daily. They offer support. They offer encouragement.
My friends are amazing. They offer prayers. They offer love. In some cases, they offer care packages. Encouragement, reminders, reaching out, love.
I step in the hot shower and allow the water to offer to pour over me. I close my eyes and try to bend my will. I scowl and pray aloud, "Thy will be done."
Angry. I am so angry. I am so angry and in shock.
Kurt is in shock too. His only comfort: the company lost the contract based on numbers that existed before he arrived. There was nothing, at all, he could do. Again, its not his fault. He finds a shred of comfort in knowing it was out of his hands. Granted, it is the amount of comfort offered in a muslin sheet on a winter night, but still, comfort nonetheless.
I ache. I miss Kayla. Miss mountains. Miss a place where grass-fed-beef is common and where bookstores are plentiful. I miss hiking and traffic. I miss diversity and my dusty lab. I think of all the plans I had- all the things I had been using to get me through these grey days. And they are gone. I allow the water to wash them away. Wash away the plans. Wash away the expectations. Wash away that dream.
I am not happy about it.
I am neutral.
I try hard to keep perspective, and I am grounded. I have to bite my lip when people start to question Kurt, and I have to hold onto the table when there are criticisms about companies he is hoping call him back.
I find myself thinking of Jesus. In John, we can read powerfully: Jesus wept.
After Jesus wept, he prayed. Hard. He prayed, and he took action, and God rewarded his faith.
I do have faith.
Even in this, when I literally stand, dumbfounded, and cannot figure out what we are doing, why we are here, or where we are going, I have faith.
I do not know why any of this is happening. I do not know what we are supposed to be learning. I do not know Your will, but whatever it is- THY WILL BE DONE. I offer myself, continually, as an instrument. I know my life is not mine- it is Your life. I offer it, as broken and humbled as it feels, and will submit to whatever plans are in store.
Not because I do not have a choice...
But because I know there is a plan for me and my family.
Here we are.
Still in Iowa.
I hold my babies.
I take a breath.
We play music on a CD entitled, "Squirrel!" compiled by one of our loving friends. We dance in streamers of green, yellow, and white. We play with new toys, and admire ballerina socks.
We roll dice in Qwirkle. The kids learn. We laugh. We have another game on the table- it waits for us.
I read books. Fun books, sent with fudge and warm wishes.
We read messages, sent in stolen moments, filled with uplifting words and prayerful thoughts.
The four of us close our eyes, and kneel in prayer. Seraphina in strong arms. Often, and through the day. Not because we demand God hears our wants, but because we beg God to help us find courage and grace as we submit to His plan.
We count our blessings. We have many. They help.
We list materials that make life easier, more comfortable, more convenient.
We close our eyes and Kurt is transported to Mexico City, and I am flown to rural Uganda. Opening our eyes the house is a palace now.
We stop thinking about checks. Stop thinking about moves. Stop thinking about materials. Stop thinking about swimming pools in the back yard. Stop thinking about Disneyland at Christmas time.
We only think of how lucky we are. Now. Right now. As is. And yes, we are lucky.
Homeschool. Housework. Day is done.
I crawl into bed.
I open a book and am taken to another world.
The book closes, and I have to come back.
Neutral is an uncomfortable place for people who are usually sunny.
But, neutral is not as bad as depression.
So, neutral it is.
I turn off the reading light.
I close my eyes.
I take a deep breath, and find it to be an audible sigh.
I pray, again. Still.