Winter in Montana can be long and cold. It provides a person a lot of time to think. I was taking this winter particularly hard when a bit of a miracle happened.
Have you ever received an email that changed your day? Your week? Your year?
I am not talking about getting bad news in an email. That, of course, could be devastating. I am talking about a normal email you receive from an old friend with a bit of “let’s catch up.” The kind of email you really needed to get. The kind of email that made you feel like the most grateful person on earth.
I got that email on Feb. 8, 2020. It was good news, really. A past protégé of mine was receiving a big award from her local Chamber of Commerce. Her editor, the writer of the infamous email, sent me a quick note to make sure I knew of the award so I could reach out and congratulate her. Which I did in less than a heartbeat.
Anna was one of my favorite employees ever. We really ‘got’ each other. She started as a part-time receptionist at one of my newspapers. Now she is the General Manager of her own newspaper.
But I digress. After the quick note from the editor, I replied with a thank you and a note asking about his family. I knew from social media his family was struggling.
He quickly replied with THE EMAIL.
It was casual at first. He mentioned the struggles they were having after an 18-year-old granddaughter had a stroke. She was learning to walk and talk again, but she has a long road ahead of her.
Next, he mentioned his wife. She was struggling with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and could not walk more than 25 feet or so without stopping to rest.
By this time in reading the email I was already looking around my dining room table and thinking of all the good things I take for granted.
Lastly, he told me of his mother living with him and his wife. She suffered from dementia. It wasn’t too bad, he said. He would get up once or twice a night to help with the bathroom and get her dressed before he went to work.
I quickly flashed back to the night before. I was so upset and inconvenienced when I had to get up at 7 a.m. to let my dogs out. These dogs, mind you, are the center of my universe — much to my husband’s dismay.
I read the email several times. When my husband came into the room, I read it to him. I wanted to see if he had the same reaction. He did. I called my mother and read the email to her. She really had the same reaction I did.
I was so sad and so grateful all at the same time.
The next day I read the email to my staff in Sidney at our weekly meeting. They make fun of me sometimes because I like to say, “It’s okay, nobody died.”
Maybe we need a reminder to be happy with what we have. I have a new saying, “Everything is temporary.” Difficult times don’t last forever. It may be more important to understand good times don’t last forever, either.