This is a story about someone that I have known and respected for a very long time. The story starts like every fairytale, but as you will see, her “real life” humbled me, and I hope it humbles you, inspires you and gives you an awareness of the strength of this awesome woman. The story will start out with some context, but stick with me, ok? While I am thinking about it, are you following me yet?
Let’s get started!
I looked at her in high school and thought, wow, she has it all. She is pretty, kind, has a great friendships, works hard, is focused on her future and to top it off, she was a great basketball player. I was in love with who she was. I wanted to be her. I never did muster up the courage to talk to her in high school, it was college before our first hello’s happened, and quite by accident.
I had just finished my literature class and was headed to my car through a back stairwell, and she was arriving at the same time. No one really used that back stairwell too often and it would have been awkward not to say hi. I said hello, and she said hi back and used my name. She knew who I was? What? She struck up a conversation and we hit it off very well. We became friends and I have known her since.
Her fairytale continued as she graduated with a good career, she got engaged and then we used Facebook to stay in touch as our life paths took us in different directions. I saw the pictures from the wedding, she was beaming. A couple years later, she gave birth to the most adorable baby I have ever seen. I admittedly failed to call and check up on her, we grew apart. That is the sad truth. I stopped seeing her posts after a while and assumed she was just busy with life.
A couple years passed and I was catching up with another college friend who was a bit of a gossiper, but in this case, I was glad. She asked me “did you hear about…” My heart sank because we all know nothing good comes after those words. She explained how after she had a baby, her husband decided he did not want a baby and just left. Simply walked out. Um, what? I honestly thought it had to be a mistake but I played it off cool as I did not want to alert my gossip friend to my real feelings. After we hung up, I had work to do!
I called up my long lost friend and I apologized for not keeping in touch and asked how she was. She cried. I finally got it out of her that she was in a desperate situation and I knew something was very wrong. Let me stop for a moment and tell you about her personality and we can resume; does that sound good? She is the type of person who will never ask for help, she is a strong person and can take anything life can send her way. For her to break down, was equivalent to someone needing to call 999 or 911. Let us carry on with the story.
To skip past a few hours, my plane landed, I rented a car and I knew she did not want me to see her in whatever state she was, but I had assured her that it did not matter. I drove to the address and it somewhere in farm country, and the property was not ideal. This is not what I had expected, and my car had barely made it through the windy dirt road to get to her. The next couple of hours broke my heart, like it has never been broken before. I was tearing up but trying to stay strong.
After she openly shared how ‘he’ handled all the finances, she did not know what was going on, what bills were owed or where that accounts were. I will not bore you with the details on how we budgeted and the pains and struggles we both went through to get her to a manageable place, but I will tell you how she lives day to day. This is where my real story starts.
This is a person that lives paycheck to paycheck in the truest sense. She gets up in the morning at 5 (primarily because her daughter is the alarm clock). She plays with her, prays with her, feeds her breakfast and gets her ready for pre-school. She drives her there with her car that I fear might break any day. With a smile, a hug and a kiss, she parts with her infant. She then goes to her workplace and educates the young minds of today. She treats every one of her students like her own, and she takes such pride in their education, despite her own affairs. No one knows the hell she faces, when she leaves that place.
I have been helping her with her budgeting over the past few months, and each month, she barely scrapes by. After everything has been paid, she is left with just under twenty dollars. What does she do with that overwhelming surplus? She invests it for her child’s college fun.
To her, a Starbucks coffee is equivalent to two meals, for her and her daughter. My heart continues to break as I try to help her through the next big project …. Working out arrangements with her debt collectors. Oh, did I mention she does not get child support and he is nowhere to be found?
I am now scrambled in my thoughts as I am angry, sad, hurt but proud that this single mom, stands up proud, smiles and says… “I will be okay, this is only temporary. I will do this for my daughter and myself.”
I am blessed, inspired and so thankful that I know a person who has shown me that in the most dire of situations, she is hopeful. I think I finally learned the true definition of hope.