ON MY MIND: The light at the end of the tunnel

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

Man, what is it that makes a day a good one or a bad one?

Last Friday I went to check out of a hotel in Toledo. The nice lady asked, “And where are you off to?”

I answered, “I am going to one of my best friends’ funeral.” I then proceeded to cry — not a good way to begin the day. I should have just made something up to answer her. She didn’t need my response, for sure. The poor lady didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. She kindly said, “Well, maybe tomorrow will be a good day.” We laughed and I left.

I went out to my car to find that someone had barfed all over next to my driver’s door. It was a huge yuck and I had to step in it to get into the car. There were no other options. And, of course, I was wearing my nice pretty new shoes. “Are you kidding me?” I thought. “This can’t be how my day is going to go.”

The funeral went as expected — good and sad or sad and good, however you want to look at it. Getting on the expressway to go home, I was sluggishly slow, kind of in a trance of grief and not knowing for sure where I was heading. I was trying to read signs to be sure I had chosen the right way. As I looked up, a guy drove around me and gave me the finger in no uncertain terms. My day continued. Next came bad weather and bad roads. La-dee-dah!

Recently we had been on a trip and returned to find rain in our kitchen. I know, it isn’t supposed to rain in your kitchen. Apparently the ice backed up on the roof and then there was water. It ruined the ceiling, roof, floor, stove and made a big mess in the process. Things could be worse, though, for sure.

Last week we had three funerals of friends. It certainly keeps our perspective in order. The kitchen is just a kitchen. Things can be repaired. The barf and the guy giving me the finger — well, they aren’t nice, but they aren’t the end of the world either.

Life is so daily. It gives us good things and bad things and mixes them all up together. Sometimes we know what’s coming. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we get a choice. Sometimes we don’t. What we do get to choose is how we react.

Another thing happened last week. I am not sure if it was good or bad. It felt bad but I have had lots of good laughs over it, so maybe that’s good.

My daughter was someplace and a guy asked her if she knew who Colleen Burns was. She said, “Yes, that’s me.”

He answered, “Oh, OK, I thought it was that old lady who writes for the paper.”

Once again, are you kidding me? Really? But, then I thought about it. I asked her, “Did he say little old lady or just old lady?” I thought, if he had said little, perhaps I could focus on that as I am not little nor have I ever been little. She could’t remember.

I know what old is. Old is about 10 years older than you are. So, of course to someone in their 30s, I am old. And, as my husband said, “What else could he have called you? He couldn’t say that young lady that writes for the paper.” I know that. It makes sense, but reality bites every now and then.

So, as I look at the past week, it is full of lots of challenges to keep my perspective in order. I am blessed to have had these people in my life. I am happy I am not barfing in parking lots or giving the finger to fellow drivers. I have things to do as we repair the kitchen mess. I may be old, but I am still here and glad for that.

Next week will bring new challenges and events to cope with, some good, some bad. As Robert Lowell said, “If we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it may be the light of an oncoming train.” Or, let me add another perspective. It could be the bright sunshine of spring.


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