I survived the long winter by breathing slowly. One morning, I stood in the yard with a mug of coffee and my husband, snow falling and Dharma bouncing in and out of fluffy white piles, and I breathed. I counted the beats of my heart. I watched the stream of my exhale swirl out and dissipate into the falling snow.
This will pass – was the truth that I repeated, inhaling and exhaling, on the days when it felt too dark or too cold or too impossibly long, with snowbanks piling up on every side, a labyrinth of white.
It was the first winter that I can remember, when I didn’t find myself in a depressed funk by the end of January.
As wedding season began with intense and hectic weeks one right after the other, I drove the car in silence. I listened to my heart. This is only for now. This busyness. This rush.
On Wednesday, Vinnie called unexpectedly in the late afternoon. I’m coming home.
What would normally be good, happy news, Vinnie coming home early on a Wednesday, wasn’t, and his voice told me so.
He lost his job.
I lost my breath.
On Sunday morning, I stood on the platform, with a microphone to my lips.
You call me out across the waters, the great unknown, my feet may fail.
I lost my breath.
I held back tears.
Not tears of fear, not tears of worry.
Just tears, a welling in my eyes, a fullness in the back of my throat, one that I had to breathe through to find my way to the end of the music.
I will call upon your name, keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am yours and you are mine.
You see, I am a fixer, a doer, I’m an if there’s a problem, we can solve it, sort of person. As an entrepreneur, I sort of have to be. It’s the nature of how I make a living. Go, do, be – repeat.
And so, my response to this situation has been to job search, resume send, and repeatedly tell myself – do not panic. You’re going to be okay. This is, already, okay.
I’ve been running my thoughts in circles and I’ve been breathless, with all of the self-talk.
Last week, I watched my husband hang up his suit coat, fold his dress pants over a hanger and close the closet door.
I brought him lemonade as he mowed down our yard and whacked away weeds in the sweltering heat. I’ve listened as he’s prayed with our children before bed, and as he has answered their questions about his job, with a smile and with peace.
Yesterday, Vinnie helped the kids through their schoolwork and we went as a family to a local museum. At the desk as we bought tickets, we looked at the summer ahead of us, as a question mark. A calendar of weekdays that we could spend, together. We opted to spend twice the price and buy a family membership to a national museum program.
Yesterday, I watched him marvel over momentum chairs and the science of ice hockey, I watched him freeze his giant daddy shadow up above theirs.
I held his hand. He kissed my cheek. We stood together, leaning on one another, watching our children.
I breathed. We breathed, together.
When life gives you time, just that – time, to cut the grass – to sit with your children – to cookout and watch a fire burn beneath the night’s sky – to see friends on weekends when you’d normally be working – I’m learning that it’s okay to just take it, with grace.
When life gives you an unexpected push, it’s okay to enjoy the ride.
And, if you’re more like me, who likes to move forward, always, to the happily ever after, to the moment when the snow-globe sets itself down and the world is right again – it’s okay to let yourself feel the fullness in the back of your throat, and to just, keep, breathing.
This too shall pass.
(And, when it does, I know that this gift that we’ve been given, of time to spend together, like most good things in life, will seem to have gone by far too fast, and be far too short.)