The last time I found myself unemployed a lot of people said “it was for the best” or other similar words of encouragement that this bump in the road would lead to good things. My Rabbi was not one of those people, although he did hope for me to land back on my feet. While he did wish the best for me, he reminded me that you do not need to look very far to see that overcoming a challenge in life doesn’t guarantee you will be better off than before you faced the challenge.
Sometimes the challenges are just too great to overcome.
In the end things did work out great, as I accidentally set my career back on track with an incredible working relationship. I took this lesson to heart. There is a common Israeli expression, “Iyehei Beseder,” (it will be fine) that is used to deal with lots of different problems. The statement is false not only because there are time things don’t work out but also because it is used as an excuse not to be proactive in dealing with problems.
I still remember riding on the ambulance on the highway in heavy traffic with the sirens blaring. The doctor may or may not have seen Gabi’s heartbeat when Rachel went in for fetal monitoring that morning. It was possible that she had died during the night or at that moment the knot in her umbilical cord was taking her life. Rachel turned to me and asked if everything was going to be OK. I told her that it was. In my mind the worst case scenario was that Gabi would be born shortly and we would once again become NICU parents. I was unprepared for the fact that things were not going to be OK. I would hold my Gabi’s body in my arms once and then never see her again.
In the aftermath of the loss, life became trip after trip to the hospital and urgent care. Between fertility treatments, depression and chronic migraines, Rachel’s medical care became the main focus of our life. It was only natural for our daughter Channah to be scared from time to time. That became truer when we didn’t have the resources to rely on others to look after her and she spent many nights waiting with us while Rachel received medical care. We did have one thing going for us. There were times she expressed concern about what was going on. We would tell her not to worry. These were grown up problems and everything would be Ok. Whenever we told her this, she would completely ignore what was bringing up her fears and go off and play like any other kid.
One morning, instead of being woken for her morning snuggle, she woke up to my screaming. I thought I could just scream Rachel into waking up.
Of course she never did.
While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, a friend I’d called for help had enough of a head on her shoulders to quickly get Channah out of the apartment and off to school. As they were walking to school, they happened to pass by the ambulance. Channah looked at her and said “Phhh. What is taking them so long?” She didn’t have a thought in the world that her mother wasn’t going to be OK, until I had to do one of the hardest things in my life and tell her that her Mom had died.
I recently celebrated my one year anniversary with my new wife. It has been an incredible year as I have rebuilt my life. Everyone is thriving. There have been ups and downs during the year. There have been times where either my wife or my daughter needed reassurance as different challenges have come up. They needed me to say that “Everything was going to be OK.”
I have learned that things don’t always work out and that I wasn’t going to lie to them and tell them that it would. We just don’t know.
I have been really stubborn on this point.
That said, my therapist and my Rabbi have finally helped me realize that I was missing a crucial piece of understanding how life works.
“It’s going to be OK,” does not mean that the challenge currently being faced is going to turn out well. It means that no matter what the outcome, I have the strength and resources to make the best of it and move forward.
It doesn’t matter if I end up with Plan A, B, C, D or yet to be even been considered or thought of Plan K. I can handle what life throws at me and make the best of it. Life is going to be OK because I want it to be OK and I will do what I need to do to make it happen.