“Today’s the day,” I whispered, starting my car on a cold Monday last week. “Today, I’ll find a job.”
I didn’t plan on being sick this summer — didn’t plan on being unemployed. It is the state of suspension that tests one’s heart. My heart had already been tested enough. It almost stopped working altogether. On oxygen day and night, I couldn’t speak clearly, write or even stand up without help. A nurse warned me I might always be that way.
I prayed for the clarity to tell stories again — newspaper columns, TV stories, it didn’t matter. Housebound, I began pecking away, telling my story word by mangled word. I was guided by the two tenets that have gotten me this far — to be truthful and joyful.
That is how, for better or worse, I finished writing a book about my life and the triumph of joy over sorrow. I owe it all to a song a friend had shared with me. It tells of a man brought to his knees by sadness, just as I had been when I lost my wife Nina. His tears helped him to see his purpose more clearly.
That is why I decided to return to the work I love, being Dave. Health and driver’s license restored, I headed out that morning to seek new opportunity.
I stopped at the Salvation Army office, thinking I would make a good bell-ringer. Just ring and say “Thanks.” How hard could that be? But, the office was closed. I would have to try again.
I thought of working at the pawn shop, but recalled it would be bad for business. I would pay top dollar for jewelry and cameras just because the people selling them “seemed nice enough.” So do highway bandits. Pawnbrokers would be making a big mistake to hire me.
The night before — Sunday night — I had met a kindred spirit, a man camping at the Moose Lodge. He was looking for employment as well and thought he would apply to work on a crab boat.
“A couple of good days and I would have enough money to by a pick-up truck,” he said before walking to his tent on Moose Lodge property. That’s where I had taken him.
He said that he would risk being seasick, but I suspect that was not the worst of his problems. Still, he had inspired me to spend part of every day job hunting — pounding on doors and shaking hands. It is both energizing and frightening. You’re asking someone to pay you for whatever you have to offer. It is personal and sometimes painful.
It is like offering love to someone not ready to accept it. I deal with that every day.
I offer to such loveless people forgiveness. And it helps to remember the song to which I still listen — the song about tears and clarity. It is possible that they have not cried enough to see the joy around them.
I sobbed the day I lost my cat, the white Persian that slept by my side. My daughter Leticia was the one who held and comforted me, wiping tears from my eyes. A teenager understood the import of my sorrow. It told me all I needed to know about her and the joyful life she will lead.
I thought about her and my cat as I knocked on more doors and left phone numbers. What better reason to work than to make sure Leticia receives the best education?
I made one more stop before giving up for the day, a company whose name I can share next week. I heard my prospective boss shriek with joy. She embraced me.
It would not have happened if I had decided to stop breathing, walking — living. It might not have happened without the tears I have shed and the love I have lost.
Still, I remember the way my day had begun, cold and dismal and seemingly without spirit.
That is when I remembered my tears and whispered the words, “Today will be the day.”
Dave Silverbrand’s columns and other writings are available on his website, www.davespeople.com.