The End of the World
It is already December 21, 2012 in Australia and the world is going on. Here in Chicago, Illinois, we were expecting a snowstorm tonight. It sounds like the 50 miles per hour winds are the big story as most of the heavy rain has passed us. That means that most of the moisture passed us by while the temperatures were in the 50-40 degree range. Our snowstorm might accumulate one inch of the fluffy stuff.
I hear that NASA has received numerous emails from people wanting to know if the world will end tonight at midnight. The Mayan calendar is due to run out tomorrow. Here we have a calendar that runs out every 365-366 days, and I usually worry about only one thing when it does: will I make it home safely or will someone who drinks and drives strike me?
Last night I walked out to my car with a student after I taught a night class in a western suburb. She was having a rough time. She has been out of work for many, many months. She just got a new job, but is still learning the ropes. She is taking paralegal certificate classes to start a new career. At the same time she is sitting for professional license examinations given in stages over a one-year period. She is recovering from a case of the flu. Her dog is in the final stages of life and needed daily care for kidney problems last week. She racked up $800 in doggy daycare expenses alone. She could ill afford the expense but was unwilling to give up on her four-legged friend so close to a holiday. Her brother just lost his job. There is a holiday to prepare for. She was worried about how she did on the exam I gave this week and the several papers due in the coming weeks.
I heard this past week from a friend who lost a mother-in-law about year ago. Now she has learned she will lose her job. She has a child at home and three in college. She had some health problems this past year. She still does not feel quite like her old self.
One of my friends from law school has gone “home” for Christmas, but her family home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Her parents and a sister are displaced, sleeping at a relative’s apartment. Her mom is not well. My friend has a full plate in her own life, but she hopes to help her family dredge the first floor of their ruined home over her holiday so that it can be assessed for safety.
Another friend from a different school has three non-custodial children and a sick wife to take care of. He has been juggling expenses and income for months without making any headway. They have no holiday plans.
I have several friends and family members who have lost a loved one recently. They face a holiday at which there will be empty seats and sad hearts.
Today is the one year anniversary of my completing my chemotherapy and radiation treatments. A year ago I was entering the hospital because I was unable to function. My bladder had been burnt. I was bleeding internally and the clots blocked my urethra. I was in terrible pain. I had a raging infection and my white blood cell count was too low for me to fight it. I had no idea then, but things were about to get much worse before they got even a little better. I would spend nearly a week in the county hospital. I would feel the worst pain I could imagine. I would become tired and fearful. At the worst moments I would question my faithin the prospect of better days.
My point is not to say that the upcoming holidays will be a bust. My point is that, on any particular day, all of us know someone whose world appears to be ending. There are tragedies that rock our hope for the future. There are diseases that undermine our energy and prospects for long lives. There are losses that threaten our economic well-being. There are disappointments that make us wonder why we carry on. But the end of days comes and passes and most of us do not pass with it. We carry on with fortitude. One minute at a time. One step after another. And the sun does come out again. Life goes on.
My wish for you this holiday season is that you do not give up. Put out your hand. Let someone help tug you into a new calendar, a new day, even a new frame of mind. My mom is known for several outrageous statements. One of them is, “Save yourselves!” She yelled that when she thought there was a snake beside us on the side of a mountain in Utah during a family vacation–a moment before she took off down the mountainside. She is always there for us, except if she thinks there’s a snake in the vicinity. Another thing she likes to say is, “If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all.” She usually announces this when the rest of us are thinking that she will be the one who will figure out a way to get us out of a slump. But the thing she says that always manages to cheer me up is, “You’re going to get over this.”
I believe that, no matter how bad things get, we will. See you in the new Mayan calendar!