When things are going great, it’s easy to feel as though nothing could bring you down.
And when things are going bad, it’s just as easy to feel nothing will go right again.
Most the time, are somewhere between the two extremes, but it’s hard to remember that when everything is coming up roses — or poison ivy.
I work as a customer service representative for pet health insurance companies. One of the hardest part of my job is when a customer calls to tell us their pet has passed away.
Some are crying as I answer the phone. Others stay strong until something during the conversation hits home and then they lose their composure.
And some just want to give up altogether.
At least a few times a week I’ll talk to people who have recently lost a spouse or other loved one, to be left with just their pet, only to have it too pass away. Or an elderly woman who has lived alone with her beloved dog or cat for the past 20 years, only to have it die suddenly.
It’s hard for them to envision a brighter day.
I do my best to help.
Last week, a woman called, sobbing that her Chihuahua had suddenly taken ill and had to be put to sleep that morning. She told me her husband had died of cancer 10 months earlier, she buried her only sister six weeks ago, her son was busy on the other side of the country and didn’t have time for her and now her only companion, her sweet Mr. Kitty was gone as well.
“I have nothing left to live for” she cried. “There’s no one left. All my family and friends are dead. I don’t have any more friends. And now Mr. Kitty’s gone, too! Why bother any more about anything? What’s the use?
I asked how old the woman was. I was floored when she told me she was 58.
“Fifty-eight!?”I repeated. “That’s not old at all! You have plenty of life yet to live”
“Yeah — alone” she said. “And it’s easy for you to say that. You’re probably a lot younger than I am”
Not at all, I told her, as I’ll turn 57 in less than a month. I told her I’ve lost many of my closest and dearest friends, including four in the last 18 months, and that my parents have been dead for nearly 30 years. “So how do you do it?” she asked. “How do you keep on trying?” It’s not hard, I said. I make new friends. “How?” she asked. “I don’t go out much”
You don’t have go out to make friends, I said. Churches, libraries, volunteer groups and the like help for some, but really, the key to making new friends is simply speaking up. When you’re waiting in line, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. If someone makes eye contact with you, don’t look away. Say hi, and see where that may lead.
I make new acquaintances every week. Who knows when one of them will turn into a good friend?
I asked her to think of those people she misses so dearly. Then I asked her to remember what her life was like before she met those people. She had no idea that someone special was about to enter her life.
That’s where you are today, I told her. You are going along with your life, and you don’t know what’s in store. You may be minutes away from meeting another special person. Friendships aren’t planned or created. They happen.
All you need is time. And another pet, when the pain from Gypsy’s loss eases, will help as well.
There was a pause, and the woman told me — in a voice not nearly so shaky as the one that called me — that she’d been wallowing in self-pity and convincing herself that she had no future.
“You know, for some reason you just made me think of ‘Gone With The Wind’” she said. “At the end of the movie, when Rhett Butler has left Scarlett O’Hara, she should be devastated. Instead, she pulls herself together and says, ‘Tara. I’ll go home, and I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day’ Thank you for reminding me of that”
When the call concluded, we both were feeling better.
When it seems like the world is overwhelming you, when you find yourself asking why you bother, remind yourself that you don’t know what’s to come and — as Vivian Leigh so eloquently stated — tomorrow IS another day.
It’s always worth seeing what it might bring.