7 solaces in my sucky, stress-filled season

hope versus despair

My husband was laid off at the end of September. Again. It's been less than a year since we were in the same boat. Once again, we're worrying about paying for PLUS loans, prescriptions, and more. All because "the company chose to go in a different direction with the department."

Such circumstances stink. Even more so when additional stinky stuff was packed into the months between Jim's layoff last year and this year's job loss.

What stuff? you may wonder. Well, soon after my husband found a new job last fall — yeah, the job he just lost — one of my dogs was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My dad was diagnosed with bone cancer and given just a few months to live. A rift developed in one of my most important relationships. All that came about in the very same week.

My dog died soon after. My dad's still holding on but surely won't/can't much longer. And that rift? Sheesh. It simply Will. Not. Heal. despite my most fervent efforts and prayers and pleading.

A lot to juggle and struggle through. But wait, there's more.

Between then and now, Jim was hospitalized for a week with an aggressive infection in his right foot, had part of said foot amputated followed by six weeks of me caring for him, driving him everywhere, administering his daily intravenous antibiotics until he could, yes, get back on his foot... feet.

Then a hailstorm caused nearly $25,000 damage to our home. Seeking quotes for quick yet quality repairs for our roof, gutters, skylights and more still has me hopping and hoping.

Soon after the hailstorm, my beloved mother-in-law — Jim's mom — passed away. That same week, I heard from one of my younger sisters that her frail heart has landed her in the palliative care phase of dying, that it was time to connect more closely to say goodbye.

Now the layoff.

This sucky, stress-filled season of life could very well get the best of me. I refuse to let it, though.

Instead, I'm determined to focus on small comforts. Those smidgens of solace that will carry me through to a happier season.

Solaces such as these:

• Maraschino cherry juice over vanilla bean ice cream. Several times a week. Sure, the cherries are good but it's the juice I love most. I wish I could buy jars of just it, sans cherries.

• Beloved authors I've not read in ages, whose unread books line my shelves thanks to years and years of accumulating books more quickly than I could read them. Elizabeth Berg. Anne Tyler. Alice Hoffman, and more await. That warms my heart.

• The senior yet sprightly fella who lives a few blocks from me, who slows down to a stop when he sees my (surviving) dog and me on our morning walk. He daily picks up fast-food breakfast for his ailing wife and never fails to pass along a corny joke or amusing observation that brightens my day as he heads home.

• Bible verses, quotes, and anecdotes that resonate at the exact moment I most need to know I'm not alone, that this painfully long season won't last forever.

• Photos and anecdotes of, by, and about Bubby, Mac, Jak, and Bud. Confirmations there's still innocence, adorableness to behold in this wacky world.

• Good, good friends and family whom I know I can call when I need to cry and complain but don't. Because I don't want to cry. Or complain. Because neither will fix things.

• The tap, tap, tap of numerous roofers working on housetops throughout my neighborhood as I walk each morning. Simple sounds ringing out a rhythmic reminder that I'm not alone. And that things can — and will — be fixed. That this sucky season will eventually lead to a better, brighter, less sucky and stressful one.

I'm crossing my fingers that's sooner rather than later. Smidgens of solace can only last me so long.