The first time I visited the home of a widow in our church, I commented on the beauty of her wood floors. "I just had them done," she said. "It was the first big thing I did on my own after my husband died, so its a pretty big deal." I had never thought about that before.
My first big thing after the separation was moving. Of course, if you're reading this, you are likely among the 35+ people who showed up to help. So, I can hardly claim that it was something I did "on my own." But, I had to come to point of being brave enough to leave my home. The only home that my 11 year old remembers. The house with the breakfast nook where I sat with students and friends in the big, squishy, second-hand chairs. The home where we recorded the heights of the kids and many TU students on the door jamb. It was kind of hard to leave it. And, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
There are some things that I have always done - married or not. For example, I learned early on that if I wanted an hour or two of absolute peace I could mow the lawn. And so that has always been my job. I'm sure now that I have done a great disservice to my boys and especially their future wives. Because, in the boys' minds, no doubt mowing the lawn is not their job. This is a practice for which I have been scolded many times. I've heard, "you need to get those boys out here to do that" at least a dozen times. I also knew that if I were the one driving the car on long trips, then I wouldn't be the one turning around to replace pacifiers, blow noses, threaten, or feed the kids. So I drove. everywhere.
Tonight I went to the utility room for a hammer and nail and found the water heater spraying hot water everywhere. I waded through an inch of water to try to find the right valve to cut the stupid thing off.
First response, panic. Then get a teenager out of bed - but neither of us could budge the valve. Next, try a nearby friend. Did I mention it was late? No answer - call his wife, no answer. Panic some more, because there's water everywhere and I. am. alone.
So I nearly have a breakdown but then it hits me - I can do this. Its just water. Nobody is going to die here tonight. I scramble around frantically looking for some Teflon tape because, even if it doesn't work to wrap a whole roll of Teflon tape around the pipe, somebody somewhere will be amazed and impressed that I even know what Teflon tape is and how to use it. This situation, by the way, is not what you use Teflon tape for but I was desperate. Can't find it. I could take you to it in the old house - in my sleep and blindfolded - but I can't find it here. Oh well, I'm smart enough to figure out how to contain a few gallons of water. I can mop. I can use towels. I need a 9x13 pan to fit into a tight spot, but that's ok because I have one. I can find a 24-hour plumber online and call. Its just a phone call and a nice, albeit sleepy guy with a truck full of valves and pipes and wrenches will show up at my door and make this little problem go away. Took him 20 minutes.
Moments of crisis make me feel like I'm alone. I hate that. Because as soon as I think I'm alone, I've added to the crisis. What was just, "Oh grief, the water heater is leaking" becomes this wave of emotion that wipes out all reasonable thought. But the reality is, I know what Teflon tape is. I can do this. And I'm not alone - not really.