Bad stuff, like actual Bad stuff with a capital B, happens to Other People.
All the sad news you read about, the horror stories you hear, the suffering people go through — it’s all terrible.
But it happens to Them.
You hear about it, shake your head out of momentary sympathy, then go back to your own life and your little problems. You’re out of milk, the cat got fur on your black skirt again, your car’s almost out of gas and now you’re late for work so you have to go sit in traffic.
Ya know, the “normal” problems of everyday life.
You’ll likely never have to actually face a Bad kind of emergency.
I mean, probably not.
Until you do.
Until the day you’re at work, thinking your day has already sucked more than usual because your company just had another round of layoffs that afternoon and another good friend of yours walked out the door with a severance package. That’s kinda bad, right?
But then you get a phone call from your husband.
He never calls you. You usually just text.
Why is he calling?
You pick up, knowing he’s on the other side of the country on a rare business trip.
What’s up? you ask.
He needs to get on the next flight home, he says.
Because his kid, your stepkid, is in the hospital.
Suffice it to say, it’s an emergency.
This qualifies as something Bad.
But Bad things happen to Other People. This doesn’t fit into the “normal” kind of bad.
It’s Other People who have to deal with problems like this.
People Who Should Expect This Kind of Thing Based on How They’ve Neglected Their Children so These Are the Consequences.
Ya know, those people.
And, now, also you.
Being a stepmom in a family emergency is weird.
It’s even weirder because you KNOW it isn’t about you. And yet, as the main character in your own story, you see the whole thing from your own perspective. You wish you didn’t. You wish you could get out of your own way enough to “know” what everyone else needs you to do.
But you don’t.
No matter how much life experience you have, you still never have the answers when new things come up.
Especially when those new things are Bad.
You fast-forward several days. At the beginning, each hour is agonizingly slow, as no one (most definitely you) has any answers.
But eventually, the hours multiply into days, and with each passing one, more answers turn up — or at least, what you hope are answers. People much smarter than you come up with them, so you want to trust they know what they’re talking about.
The days multiply into weeks, and eventually, normalcy seems to take hold again.
The weeks turn into months. The Bad Thing fades into the background.
That brings you to now. Looking back over the past few months since the Bad Thing happened, you hope things are better. You hope your stepkids will end up all right, that their mom and dad will end up all right, that you’ll end up all right.
Time will tell, you say to yourself.
But at least you all get the chance for another try.
It was only a Bad Time, and not a Bad Ending.
You remind yourself that that in itself makes you luckier than most. Not everyone who goes through a Bad Thing gets the chance to possibly end up all right.
You have that chance. Your little family has that chance.
Every day is another chance.