I have been struggling some lately. My last job contract ended in December and though I have had a few interviews I haven’t found a job yet. What I do, what I know, is specialized in terms of knowledge and skills but what I have been attempting to do is move into a different genre of work. Similar to what I have done for 30 years but just different enough and narrow enough that the opportunities to “break-in” are difficult to uncover.
I try to stay positive but some days are harder than others like today when the mortgage is due and the insurance bill needs to be paid and I look at my shrinking bank account and wonder how much longer can I keep from panicking. Then I read the story about the man who lost his wife and his two great-grandchildren in the California wildfires and I realize what I am concerned about, what is troubling me is absolutely nothing in comparison.
Ed Bledsoe was on the phone with his great-grandson as the fire approached their home begging his great-grandfather to “come and get me.” But because the roads were closed Mr. Bledsoe couldn’t get to his family in time to save them. He stated in an interview that he and his great-grandson “talked until he died.” Imagine that for a moment. Let that emotion, that fear, that conversation wash over you. They “talked until he died.”
Everyday tragedy strikes a person, a family, a community. Everyday, every hour, every minute someone, somewhere is dealing with a catastrophic issue and wondering why me. They are searching for strength. They are searching their soul for a reason to continue. Mr. Bledsoe said that he “would’ve liked to have went in there and died with them.” I understand that. Rather than having to live with the pain and guilt of surviving. Rather than having to spend the rest of his life with the thought that “I shouldn’t have left my family in harm’s way” he wishes he had perished in the fire along with them.
Except for the few people who know Mr. Bledsoe the rest of us won’t know how his story ends. Between now and the end of his life there will hundreds of thousands of other stories just as tragic, just as heart wrenching as his. These stories will fill the space occupied for a short time in the news cycle by Mr. Bledsoe on CBS and CNN. But while we may forget this tragedy Mr. Bledsoe will relive it everyday. He will be reminded of the loving wife he lost and the two very young great-grandchildren who gave him joy, love and a purpose and reason to live.
Yes, many of us will stop and pause for Mr. Bledsoe while it is on our mind. We may pray for him asking our God to offer him peace and healing but realistically those aren’t comforts headed his way. You know it and I know it. We will never know how his story ends but we can know this, whatever problems, concerns, issues, or doubts you are dealing with right now you can be assured that someone, somewhere is dealing with something bigger than you and I are. And I can promise you this, you wouldn’t trade places with them. You certainly wouldn’t trade places with Ed Bledsoe.
So as I look at the stack of envelopes on my desk that I need to write checks for and as I answer a text from my oldest wondering what kind of glue to use and phone call from youngest wondering why her check engine light keeps coming on I thank the creator for what I have as we all should. I thank Her for this moment of peace, health and safety for me and my family because there are simply no guarantees on what we have and there are no promises for how long we are meant to keep it. I doubt Mr. Bledsoe ever thought about the day he would lose his family in a fire but today and tomorrow he will think about nothing else.
Love what you have. Love where you are and who you are. And most importantly, let’s try to do a better job of loving one another.