“Nothing endures but change.” ― Heraclitus
I should know by now that it’s never a good idea to check Facebook right before going to bed. Just before closing my eyes, I happened to see a post from a friend who lives in Israel that two rockets had been fired from Gaza into Tel Aviv. It was the first time sirens were activated in Tel Aviv since 2014 and several Israelis were treated for shock.
Reading this news, my heart stopped. My husband just happened to be in Tel Aviv, participating in a “Start Up Nation” program for entrepreneurs that a close friend had invited him to join. I did not know exactly where the missiles had landed, or even where my husband and this group was at the time. But nevertheless, my anxiety kicked in full speed, with a little added PTSD. This cannot be the next chapter in our life, it just cannot.
My husband has been an entrepreneur since he immigrated to this country from Uruguay in the late 1980’s, putting himself through school selling horoscope scrolls for vending machines in neighborhood markets in Santa Cruz. His original plan was to study music, but then got sidetracked into the booming tech industry of the 90’s and he and a friend started their first company. Then, in the early 2000’s he started an online commerce company with a childhood friend which allowed us to move from California to Rhode Island so that we could raise our children near my family. While we still have ‘what were we thinking?’ moments during some New England winter days, we both say with certainty that the move has been a good one for each of us individually, and our family.
We also both say with certainty that his career, and mine, as entrepreneurs hasn’t always been a walk in the park. Just as there have been moments/months/years of success, we have also endured our share of setbacks. Some of them business, some personal, some years a little of both. But we have come through them together knowing that this truly is the rhythm of life, happiness and sadness, success and failure, impermanence.
This past year, however, my husband’s strength and spirit has been tested more than any other in the 30 years since I’ve known him.
It started last spring, when he and his partner sold their company. At first we celebrated, until the sale quickly turned into a lawsuit, resulting in a deeply painful breakup of their 50 plus years of friendship.
A few months later, the house where we raised our children was set on fire by the tenants we had thought were upstanding people. That began a whole litany of paperwork and repairs, not to mention emotional scars as we sorted through the bins we had stored in the basement, seeing stacks of my journals (including my 1967 cloth covered diary that started my writing path) all completely destroyed.
And if that wasn’t enough, the following month a knock at the door resulted in an assault and robbery in our home in Providence. My husband was brutally beaten, until the thugs heard our son upstairs, and fearful that he might be calling the police, ran out of the house. Thank God our son wasn’t hurt physically, although I’m quite sure hearing his father getting beaten up is a scar that doesn’t disappear overnight.
It took several months for my husband to heal physically, and even after surgery to reconstruct the broken bones below his eye, he was still seeing double. And all the while we were dealing with our son who now wanted to transfer out of the university he was attending in Pittsburgh, to a school closer to home “just in case something like this happens again.” He passed an accelerated application process to go to UConn for the upcoming semester, only to realize just two weeks in, that what he really needed was the continued support and love he had been getting from his fraternity brothers and friends in Pittsburgh. So, we moved him out of the dorm at UConn and packed the car for his ride back. Eight hours later we received a call—he was involved in an accident, his car was totaled, but thankfully, he was alright. By this point, all I could think of was when does this end?
The universe, or God as some might say, has a way of timing things just so. Just a few weeks later, on the 27th of September, a little over 3 months since the home invasion, my husband and I were witness to the miracle of life. Our oldest daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. And we have been fortunate enough to be by their side the last several months to witness every nuance, every first, both from our precious granddaughter, and our daughter becoming a mother.
So here we are now, and all seems to be back in order. But life, as we have come to know, is all about impermanence. Which is why, when I hear the news of a missile fired into the very city my husband was visiting, I hold my breath.
I call him, he doesn’t answer. I send a WhatsApp message, he doesn’t respond. I search every social media outlet I know he keeps up with, still nothing.
And then finally, at 3:00 in the morning I get a text message “I’m in the desert watching the sunrise from Masada. All is good. I love you.” A few hours later, he sends a picture of him covered in mud, in front of the Dead Sea. His text read:
“If I post this picture, do you think people will think I am dressing up in black face?”
But that is not what I see. Not even close. I see my husband, after a year of setbacks unlike any other, smiling as wide as the sea behind him, shining as bright as the desert sun.
He is still healing from all that this year has put in front of him, still putting pieces together to get his life, and his career, back on track. The lawsuit is moving forward, the house is on the market, his eyes and body are getting stronger every day. But more than anything else, his heart has opened deeper than either of us thought possible, especially when he hears his new title, “Abuelo.”