Life would be funny sometimes if you could work up the energy to laugh. Our bankruptcy was discharged on July 3rd. Jeff was going to be 44 on July 15th. I had decided to give him a surprise. Our laundry room doubled as his tool shed. I was sorting and cleaning in a frenzy to surprise him. Yet another thing that makes me a steal as a wife. I'm a cheap date, AND I can organize his tools better than he can. What's not to love? He would be one happy camper when he saw the fruit of my labor.
Only 3 days later, my registration pal and I were running a mean check-in desk for VBS. The gush of kids had settled to a trickle. We were about to move on to our next assignments for the night when I decided to check an unexpected cell phone message. I must have looked pretty shattered as I listened because the laughter slid off my cohort's face like a pancake sliding off a griddle onto a plate. Her eyes grew wide as my laughter gave way to a silent cry of anguish.
I recognized the voice on the other end. It was the landlord. He sounded shattered. His composure was just a step ahead of him, and he was rushing to catch it. "I hate to ask you this now. I hate to leave a message. I'm sorry. I need you to move out of the house. I am no longer employed. I need to move into the rental. I need you folks to move as quickly as you can. Can you be out in 30 days?"
One of his job benefits as a university professor was campus housing. Since he would no longer be an employee of the school, he was losing that benefit. Thus, he and his wife needed to move into what had been their rental property. Our home was no longer ours; it was theirs.
"Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." That cursed old Southern saying had irritated me for my entire life. It bombarded me as I recalled my laundry room musings only a few days earlier. How could I have been so utterly, utterly stupid?
When I could speak, I realized my friend was gripping my hand? "What, is Jeff...is Jeff ok?" She knew he was again violently ill. I was wondering how I could go home and add to his load by telling him we had 30 days to find another place to live. Even tho' it was only early evening – not even dark yet, I knew I had to go home and wake him up. He had made it thru the work day but had gone straight to bed after supper.
Thankfully, neither son was close by. Son #2 was with his class. Son #1 was helping with the music for the kids. I had some time to work with. Time to figure out how I'd break the news to them. My friend agreed that she would tell them I had run home to get something I'd forgotten. With a cover story in place, I went home to break the news to my husband.
As the engine started, hysterical sobs broke loose. "Are you KIDDING me, God? If this is your idea of a joke, IT SUCKS! It is NOT funny!" No...Mamma wouldn't have been proud, and that one occasion is probably the only time I have used that phrase in my life. That night...nothing else seemed to fit.
Then, the same voice that I heard all those years ago while I had been vacuuming eased its way into my heart. "Do you believe what you believe you believe? If you do, you know that I am not surprised by this development. Just like I knew 9/11 was coming when Jeff was out of work on medical leave, I knew this was coming today. Don't you think I already have an answer? Do you believe what you believe you believe about me? Either you do...or you don't. Either I Am...or I'm not. Which is it?"
I was halfway thru the 2-3 mile drive home. The tears began to dry up almost immediately. I was either going to show the boys that I believed what I believed I believed about that good God they'd heard so much about, or I was going to fail this pop quiz of life. "Ok, God. You must have a solution for this nightmare. Because, if you don't, I sure don't."
I hushed the voice screaming in my head that this good God I was choosing to trust in that moment was the same one that had left us flapping in the wind. He had let us go thru Chapter 13, homelessness, social disgrace, and all the other hideous things that had gone on the previous 9 years. I actually started to laugh. Not a crazy lady digging thru dumpsters laugh...a laugh of profound relief.
Jeff looked at me dully while I broke the news. I think he was so sick that it took a while for reality to hit. We agreed on a 'party line' to use with the boys. The truth wouldn't wait since time was limited. In reality, you and I both know that my little family of 4 had no need to rush. We were but 2 months into our 4th 12 month lease on the property in question. We could have asserted our rights and taken our time moseying on. Our brains didn't work like that in the heat of those moments.