It’s a rainy spring day here, which reminds me of my true earthworm story that I shared last year. You can read it below.
I’m amazed to see that I left out a critical part of the story, about why I left my job, a decision prompted by earthworms. (Yeah, just read the story.)
It’s true that I was overwhelmed with life and sick all the time. But the real reason I left my job is that, several years after my son Matt’s diagnosis with a brain tumor at age 11, it finally became clear to me that his, and our family’s, recovery was going to be a long haul. We were all floundering, and the only way we would survive is if I dedicated myself full time to our healing.
And the only way Matt was going to graduate from high school is if I became his full time cheerleader, mentor, and tutor.
I’m not sure why I left that piece out of the original story, other than perhaps I didn’t want to get so deep at the time. As a fairly new blogger, I tried to separate my “cute” stories from my brain tumor stories. I didn’t know how to weave them together. I didn’t know if a reader who liked one type of story would like the other.
It’s a sign of how my writing has grown, that I can better integrate all the parts of my life, all the nuances of what makes me me. And I think my readers like that. It’s honest. It’s real.
As for Matt, he not only graduated from high school on time, but he completed a bachelor’s degree (in four years!), and continues to amaze us with his success in life.
I have it so great. Earthworms got nothin’ on me.
It was around 20 years ago. I was married with two rambunctious sons, a demanding full time job and an old house. I loved it all, but the all of it was starting not to love me back.
I was frequently losing my temper with my kids, quibbling with my husband, yearning for low-maintenance apartment life. Non-stop sinus infections, colds, headaches, digestive problems, and exhaustion plagued me. I felt like my body was on the fast track to destruction.
One spring day, I pulled up in the parking lot at the elementary school where I worked as a counselor. It was raining and the parking lot was a regular Eau de Earthworm convention. I tip-toed through the conventioneers, juggling my umbrella, purse, lunch bag and briefcase, with no third hand to hold my nose.
Out of the blue, or should I say “gray,” an unedited, spontaneous thought popped into my head:
“Earthworms have it so great.”
(I’ll pause for a moment because you’re probably reading that statement again to be sure you didn’t misread it. Spoiler alert: you didn’t.)
Now, what does one do when a thought like that bombards your consciousness?
Don’t look at me–I thought I was crazy. (Spoiler alert: I am, a little. In a good way, mostly.)
To clarify: I witnessed putrid earthworms congregate on the chilly blacktop as they brazenly risked bald tires, low-heeled pumps, and hungry robins. I knew if they survived, they’d wiggle back home to eat dirt and poop it out.
And I thought that was a good life? Well, it was time for some serious reevaluation, dontcha think?
That’s exactly what I did, after I got inside and examined my pupils to be sure nobody slipped some LSD into my morning coffee.
I took a good hard look at my life, at what would stay and what could give. The kids and the husband? Stay with a capital “S.” The old house halfway through rehab? Stay. We’d need to pay someone to take it off our blistered hands. That left my school counseling job. Which I loved. But the needy students and fractured families were slowing sucking me so dry that not even a monsoon could rehydrate me.
So, with a deep breath and a big gulp, at the end of the school year, I gave my notice and quit my job. As a family, we made some sacrifices, but we regained our equilibrium and I slowly regained my health. I believe it saved my life. And I owe to it earthworms.
Wisdom in this universe is everywhere, sometimes right under our feet.
“I am not a slimy beast,” the Earthworm said. “I am a useful and much loved creature. Ask any gardener you like.”
– James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.