A few years ago I wrote an article for the Tribune about my friend Judy and the death of her 16 year old son. It caused a bit of a stir with radio stations and religious groups calling to interview her. Judy and I got together and I told her of a book I wanted to write about women of all religious backgrounds who used their faith to get them through times of crisis. Amazingly, Judy had dreamt of the same sort of book. We started a collaboration.
We sent out emails and pleas on message boards nationwide for interviews. We talked to friends and strangers and other authors and slowly, very slowly began writing stories. I worked on it at a snail’s pace; fitting the book in between the demands of my family. It was a theme that I was and still am passionate about– our faith doesn’t keep bad things from happening to us; faith gets us through the hard times when they do come.
And then, inexplicably, I made a decision. We were struggling financially, worried about staying in our big new home and needed extra income. I decided to open an online store. How could it go wrong? I thought it would take only a few hours a day, be simple to run and bring in some money. I dropped out of the book project and opened my online store. I turned left when I should have turned right.
The store has been a living nightmare. Long hours, unreliable manufacturers, unhappy customers, diminished sleep and health and no money. I’ve unwittingly made some unethical moves, hurt people I care about and lost any shred of self-esteem I once possessed.
But above all I’ve neglected my family. Far too many hours have been spent shipping packages or updating the website when I should have been playing RISK or having a tea party. My children call the store “The Despised Child.”
Surprisingly, the store is now profitable(if you consider 25 cents an hour a good wage), so we’ve kept it open one more season to recoup our losses. But I don’t care how well it does this Spring. No paltry amount of money is worth the damage I’ve done to my family. I hate myself for this.
I was taking pictures of Mary for the store this morning when my friend Judy came by. The book is finished! She gave me three copies(and one for Brenda, Chapter Five) and we talked and talked. I read through much of the book as I waited for carpools and shipped packages today. Judy did an amazing job. The book is beautiful and inspirational. I recognized many of the names and stories, but Judy took the book in a new and wonderful direction. It was much better than I could have done.
But as I read it I cried, not because of the beautiful stories, but quite selfishly for these two wasted years, for neglecting my babies and for passing up quite possibly the only time someone will actually want me to write with them.
Ben, Stefan, Hans Xander— I know you’ll read this. I am so sorry I chose poorly. I’m sorry you’ve been pushed aside and ignored. I’m sorry for the days I picked you up late and the times your questions fell on deaf ears. I realize in the vast scheme of things this is a much smaller regret than choosing to take drugs or have affair. But I mourn every moment taken away from you.
And when you are faced with a choice, please, please remember to follow your heart and your dreams and not the allure of a pot of fool’s gold.