On May 28, 2015, the insurance company called to say that they wouldn't pay a single penny to help us rebuild the house that had been destroyed by mold and water damage (from a series of broken pipes), because my husband's military service had taken our family away from the area, and we weren't physically in the house when the damage occurred. I sat on the floor of the Javits Center in New York City (where I was visiting for Book Expo America) and sobbed, because I knew there was no way we could pay for the necessary repairs ourselves on my husband's military paycheck.
|Our dining room in May 2015|
It's been a crazy, insanely-difficult year full of disappointment, frustration and more heartache than I thought I could handle. But it's also been a year full of amazing support from friends, family and the amazing authors, agents, and editors in the publishing world who lifted and carried me - sometimes literally - when I didn't have the strength or ability to do it on my own.
From the awesome publishing folks who literally lifted and held me up until I had the strength to stand on my own when I was falling apart at BEA to the authors, agents, editors and readers who held an auction to raise funds to help pay for the mold removal ... the loan officer who worked late into the night for more months than I want to count, looking for ways to make the financing work so we could get the loan we needed ... and the contractors who have become friends as we've worked together to rebuild ... I've been blessed with more miracles than I could have ever imagined this year.
And yet ... I've struggled.
I'm a natural optimist, and as the name of this website implies, I prefer to look for the blessings in life's struggles. I'm usually pretty good at finding the miracles wrapped up in each challenge. But this time, being able to see the blessings just wasn't enough. Being grateful for the daily miracles kept my head above water, but just barely. And I still felt like I could barely catch a gulping gasp of breath before the waves crashed over me again, as repeated delays and unforseen difficulties pushed the rebuild farther and farther out.
But this weekend marks a full year that I've kept going. I've survived. And I can almost see the finish line ahead.
|Our dining room in May 2016|
To celebrate, I'm taking my family back to New York City. And this time, we're going to have only happy memories. We're going to see Zachary Levi (one of our favorite actors, who has probably the best singing voice ever) in the revival of She Loves Me (a musical based on one of my favorite stories - the same one that inspired the movies Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail).
To be honest, money is still extremely tight, and I've struggled with extreme guilt over spending our dollars on something just for fun when we're still working to pay for all of the unexpected costs of rebuilding a house from scratch. But this musical isn't just a fun family activity. It's a symbol for so much more. This is a life "do-over" in more ways than one.
Four years ago (in 2012), one of my favorite singers was playing the lead role in a revival of another of my favorite musicals on Broadway, and my husband was going to surprise me with tickets to see the show for my birthday (May 27, 2012). But that musical closed early - the weekend before we were planning to go - and I never got the chance.
So when I saw that Zachary Levi was playing the lead in She Loves Me, and we had an opportunity to get a military discount on tickets for this weekend's matinee, I had to find a way to scrape the money together. I bought the tickets, circled the date on my calendar ... and prayed with everything I had in me that this show wouldn't close early.
Yet, a small part of my optimism-starved soul was totally braced and prepared for the crushing disappointment of another show closed early. I don't know if I could have handled that.
So when the Tony Award nominations were announced at the beginning of this month, and She Loves Me walked away with EIGHT nominations (including a Best Actor nomination for Zachary Levi!!), I cried so many happy tears. It felt like the Lord was telling me "I haven't forgotten you. If this is important to you, it's important to me."
*Note: I've heard that Zachary Levi does a meet-and-greet with the fans after each performance and I'm REALLY hoping for a chance to get an autograph (Phil is drawing a special picture for me to bring along for an autograph, just in case I get a chance) and maybe take a picture with him. I know I'll still have fun if that doesn't happen, but I'm still hoping. And praying.