Shadows & Sunbeams

“Happiness is like a sunbeam, which the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring”
“How will Santa bring presents? There isn’t a fireplace,” my six year old son asked looking around the tiny duplex, his gray eyes sad and scared. It wasn’t just about Christmas and Santa, but about the transition as a whole.
“I think he has a key,” Micaela, his older sister, answered, looking at me for confirmation.
“Yes, a key,” I sighed. “Santa has a master key to all the houses and apartments that don’t have a fireplace.” I tried to sound upbeat and reassuring, but I wasn’t feeling it in my heart. My Christmas cheer had certainly been replaced with Christmas gloom.
The breakup had been hard on me, but I was worried more about the kids. And I felt horribly guilty. How could I have believed and trusted in love after being hurt so badly by their father? How could I have been so stupid?
“Well, I think that’s it.” The mover said, softly smiling at me.
He had moved us from a beautiful suburb and a beautiful house to a dump of a neighborhood and duplex that was about the size of the living room that I just left. I wasn’t materialistic, but I did feel like a total failure.
“Thanks for all your help. I’m sure I will be seeing you in a few months when I get a permanent home,” I smiled back at the dark haired man. He had kept the move upbeat, and even played with the kids in between loads. I grabbed a white envelope out of my purse that contained a tip for him and his partner. It wasn’t much, but I was raised to tip no matter what. It wasn’t their fault that I was broke.
“Absolutely not,” he said pushing the envelope away. He looked over my shoulder at the kids who were sitting on the beige carpeting, petting Guinness, our Australian Shepherd, and feeding Ginger, our long haired rabbit. “No, you take whatever you have in there and go Christmas shopping for them. Or buy a tree.”
“I can’t,” I said trying to hold back the tears. “I won’t be a charity case.”
“You aren’t a charity case. I like you. In fact, did you want to go to dinner next weekend?”
I laughed. He was probably ten plus years younger than I was, and I had taken a vow of no men. At least until I worked on healing.
“No offense to you, and believe me, I am flattered, but I know you also just broke up with someone, who I think you will get back together with soon. Plus I’m not ready to date.”
“How…?” he looked at me baffled.
“I’m kind of psychic,” I laughed.
“Well, here’s my card. Call me if you change your mind. And go Christmas shopping,” he instructed.
It was a couple weeks before Thanksgiving and I hadn’t gotten one thing, which was so unusual for me, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. The year before the kids received extravagant gifts from the ex’s family. What a difference a few months bmade. I was grateful for the extra money.
The mover said his goodbye to the kids, picked up his mats and gave me one final smile, but this time it felt like pity and sadness, stirring the depression again in me.
The kids and I spent the next couple days unpacking some. I was bound and determined to make this temporary until I could come up with the money for a house, but we were in a recession and houses were expensive and far and in between. The timing couldn’t have been worse. So instead, I found myself renting a two bedroom duplex that was about 400 square feet, but it did include a basement and they were making an exception and allowing me to have Guinness and Ginger there. Instead of paying for cable, I had decided we would watch movies on the VCR, and play games. It would be okay. At least I kept telling myself that.
It was their father’s turn to have them for Thanksgiving, which set me off in a feeling blue, but I had the Santa Letters that I had to write anyhow. It was a project that I started when Connor was a year old and when I knew that their father was leaving. It was an extra way to earn an income, use my psychic abilities, do what I loved to do (write) and help a charity. No matter how much or how less I earned, I always gave back and this year wouldn’t be an exception, I told myself. That would keep me busy. I was so embarrassed by my address that I didn’t even want the kid’s father to know it, but a friend who was also an attorney told me that he could take me to court for that, and since I had depleted any savings that I ever had, including my 401K fighting for my kids in court, over and over again, I relented. Plus, I knew that if the situation was reversed I would want to know where my kids were laying their head at night. But my fear was that once he saw my address, he would take me to court anyhow. It was a lose/lose situation, and I seemed to constantly walk on eggshells with that man anyhow.
“I’ll see you in a few days,” I said hugging the kids, and trying not to cry.
“Where will Santa put the presents, mommy?” Connor asked me. I called him The Wizard because he was always curious, and would regurgitate the information given at appropriate, but frustrating times.
“Oh, he will find a place.”
I had purchased a table top tree from CVS, but hadn’t put it together yet.
I watched as the kids ran out the doorway towards their father’s car, and avoided any eye contact with him, but I knew without looking that he thought I was a failure as a mom, and I knew that certainly felt like that failure.
The day was gloomy. Thanksgiving was the next day, but my parents were going to take me out to eat, so I didn’t have anything to prepare. I always cooked Thanksgiving dinner, and looked forward to it, even if it was so much trouble – hours of prepping and cooking and taking mere minutes to devour it. I laid down on the sofa and stared up at the ceiling. “God, if you have any kind of suggestion or sign for me, I would love it right now.”
As if on cue, the sun broke through the small windows and Guinness, who had been lying on the love seat, groaned, jumped down and laid in the small streak of sunbeams that danced along the floor. Although shadows surrounded the little bit of sun streaks, he curled his body up so that it covered him completely. Message received.
My first sunbeam that I noticed after that sign was the man I now call my husband. We had been set up on a blind date just the week before. I wasn’t going to go, but I decided that I would take my chances. I was worried and scared about being hurt and putting the kids in another chaotic situation. But I looked to the sunbeams. The second sunbeam was the sale of my Santa Letters. It was enough to put a down payment on a home. Albeit not my dream home, it added another 500 square feet to what we were living in for several months, and more windows for Guinness to catch even more sunbeams. But what I mostly discovered during that small blip of time in my life that I thought at first was so horrible, was that it was more wonderful if I stopped and saw the sunbeams instead of the shadows.  Message received.
I still write Personalized Santa Letters (Sent by Santa). And although I am still trying to figure out a way to one day have my dream home, I believe.
Happy Thanksgiving!
After rain there’s a rainbow, after a storm there’s calm, after the night there’s a morning, and after a ending there’s a new beginning.
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