Clawing my way out

Lush garden, idyllic summer

Lush garden, idyllic summer

My summer should have been idyllic—laughter of children and words of friends, chortling of chickens and song of birds, unfolding of flowers and swelling of fruit—seemingly endless days of sunlight and warmth.

I saw the sun, all right, but it was from the bottom of a dark hole; its rays occasionally reached me, but all I could think was “Drought.”

Months of a fruitless job search had pushed me into that hole, every rejection letter digging it a little deeper. I tried to be reasonable—my husband worked, we weren’t STARVING, and yes, illness or injury could financially ruin us, but no sense worrying about something that might not even happen. ”Stop worrying, stop worrying, stop worrying…” I thought if I told myself that, repeated it to myself enough times, I’d eventually obey.

I didn’t. A faint but persistent whisper drowned out the voice of reason: “You have life insurance. You’re worth a lot more dead than alive, dead than alive, dead than alive…”

My friends and family tried their best to lift me out of the hole, but being mortal and lacking wings, they could only carry me so far. It was up to me to claw myself out, inch by painful inch, until I emerged into a full appreciation of life.

I finally did, and for awhile I could walk freely again, confident in my abilities. I felt like I was worth something.

Not for long, though. Recent events have conspired to send me hurtling back to the bottom, and I’m once again in the clawing process. Fortunately, I’d made handholds on my last trip, so the journey sunward is much easier this time. I’m better at grabbing the blessings that hang, rock-like, on the edge of the hole; I use them to heave my way up.

When the first snow fell last week, it wasn’t much, maybe a couple of inches. My son Sage leapt off the school bus and almost immediately set himself to building a snowman. Had I been home at the time, I would have deemed it an exercise in futility; how big a snowman can you make when you have so little snow?

I might have told him to come in, maybe have a snack or read a book, wait patiently until the next snow; “Don’t waste your time and energy,” I probably would have told him.

Fortunately, my husband was home and I was not. By the time I returned, darkness had fallen, but Sage was still heaving away at a surprisingly large ball of snow in the glow of the floodlight. “Look!” he announced, “I made a snowman!”

He really had; in fact, his snowman was almost as tall as he was. I never would have deemed it possible, but there you go—unencumbered by a sense of futility, he’d achieved his dream.

Sage posed proudly by his snowman the next morning, when the light was strong enough to get a good picture.

His creation was short-lived, though. The snowman was reduced to an amorphous blob by the time he got home, its jaunty yellow cap sodden in the grass. In a sense it really WAS an exercise in futility.

But in a more important sense, it was a triumph. Snow will always melt, but we’ll always have the pictures of Sage with the proof of his persistence.

Happy Sage with snowman

He didn’t give up, and neither will I.



  1. Rebecca Burmesch · · Reply

    Thank you for sharing such a personal situation. Keep clawing, Rebecca. Your friends and family want you to.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I was feeling really down for awhile, but I think my perspective is returning. I’ve been writing this blog from an inspirational angle on the “if you smile enough, your mood will improve” theory, and it seems to be working. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that all’s well with you (and your oboe!) > Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2013 21:58:17 +0000 > To: >

  2. Children are often the best teachers in life.

    1. You speak (well, type) truth indeed. I have a feeling you’ve learned a LOT from the children in your high school classes–perhaps, at times, too much… > Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013 21:08:05 +0000 > To: >

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