This story was shared by one of our Storyblenders in our Storyblend Facebook Group. A truly inspiring, yet sad story, about a woman who struggled and overcame so much in life and was able to find the silver lining even when it seemed unimaginable.
“I found myself abandoned at the age of 14. After that, I tried to make my life very compartmentalized. I could not think of the father that I always loved that had left me, the mother that left my father after 15 years of being married and moved out with the other 3 kids, leaving me behind. I could not think of my hungry belly that had nothing to eat or the frigid house (my grandpa’s abandoned house) that had no heat and no phone. My daily life consisted of two things: going to school and going to a job where I washed dishes by hand for $3 an hour until my hands bled.
I was selfless, I kept a schedule to keep myself sane.
I comforted my dad through the divorce and while he fell apart, I became the parent and kept everything running. We endured hunger and cold so badly that he wanted to commit suicide.
Then he got a girlfriend and disappeared. He could suddenly afford to care for her and her 2 kids even though they had food and heat. He told her to quit her job and that he would take care of them.
I moved on with my life. I always struggled with low-paying jobs so I tried hard to not look at things that I wanted. I was content to have a place to live with heat. Although I did not have much food, I had something. Usually I worked at fast food restaurants, so I at least got one meal. I also worked a second job most of the time.
When I moved in with my now-husband, Dave, we did things together. We built things together, we did wood working projects and other home projects.
One day he slid open the “junk” drawer that had random batteries, rubber bands, screws and random warranty paperwork. He slid a flyer inside of a 2010 F250 that he had test driven one day. It was out of our price range at that time, but we dared to dream. I tried to think of the fact that that we both were fortunate enough to have running vehicles. I didn’t want to not appreciate what we had.
A few weeks later I saw a paint color in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine that I loved.
I tore it out and slipped it in the drawer.
Over the years we each slid in things that we dared dream of. We dubbed it the dream drawer.
7 years later we felt ready to finance a 2015 F250. We had dreams of traveling and towing a trailer. The long bed would fit sheets of plywood and drywall. We remodeled the trailer one room at a time.
In December 2017 Dave was feeling very ill. We had been cleaning out his dad’s apartment and put him into a nursing home. His dad was a hoarder and it took weeks to sort and purge his belongings. He was bound to be worn out.
Months earlier there was a fire at an abandoned house beside us that ultimately damaged our house too. The owner had no insurance so we turned the claim into ours. They cut a check. Being the handy people we are, we tracked our hours and paid ourselves to do the extensive work. This process took months. Was he just worn out?
The awful truth was revealed when he called me at work and asked me to go pick him up and take him home. He had been to the doctor so many times and each time they threw him antibiotics.
Instead of turning to go to the house I took him to the hospital. They did blood work. They referred us to the cancer center.
He had Leukemia. It was all a blur from there. For months he languished in the hospital.
He fought it. I worked so many hours to get us through without his wages.
He finally came home but was not well enough to go back to work. We had a discussion and decided to sell the house that we had worked on for 14 years.
I worked on packing everything up. The last day in the house we were putting the last things in boxes. While packing, we opened the dream drawer. We threw away the paperwork for the F250, we had already gotten the car. I looked through all of the things I had dreamed of for the house.
A tear fell down my cheek. I gathered the things left in the drawer and threw them in the trash.
I dared to dream of things, but for now I was happy that he had lived. He was the most important thing to me anyway.