It can be a strange thing when verb tenses change. Often it has been my experience that verb tense changes signify a modification in a situation or a person. I’m sure I use them all the time without a wince or a struggle and only notice when verb tenses change if something or someone’s situation is different and I wish it had not changed. Often when I do perceive this verb tense change thing, I find myself hurting because I want the verb tense to have remained the same. (Has any of this made sense???)
Well, this week, I have experienced two significant verb changes. Something that is, isn’t. Something that was, wasn’t. Something you have, you don’t anymore.
On Monday, I lost my job.
On Sunday, my husband lost his much loved uncle.
After 7 1/2 years, the job I loved and poured myself into with every fiber of my being, is now gone. In a split second, after an emotional phone call from my boss, I experienced that verb tense thing I hate. I work in non-profit ministry. Correction, I worked and I was blessed to be around people I treasured. When donations went down to an all-time low, a difficult decision was made and I, along with several other co-workers were laid off. It happened that fast. I harbor no hard feelings (at least at this point) with the decision. It’s just that I’m trying to get used to this new way of defining myself. Who am I now?
There have been countless times when I have wanted to quit and I have dreamed of this day. When I have been overwhelmed by annoying students or heavily burdened by a teenager’s story. When a high school girl is picking her nose and eating it! the entire time we are speaking, um, yeah, I want to quit! When a skinny, pale-skinned teenager is bent on interjecting a sarcastic answer every time I speak, you bet, I want to hand in my notice! But then, there are times when a student is crying and her tears have soaked through my shirt, that I praise the Lord because I am there to encourage and love. Or the kids who write to me afterward and say we have changed their lives. Nothing can beat those moments. My job, working with teens and meeting so many in the midst of regretful choices and pain, has been exhausting on every level. Y’all, I have seen and heard more things than I ever imagined and most of it wasn’t pretty. But it was my mission field (in addition to my own OS and DH, that is).
But it’s that verb thing that is haunting. I found myself trying to figure out what verb to use today. I was talking about my boss, was he now “my former boss?” It seriously stings just to type those words.
This is coupled with the fact that we are driving out of state for a funeral. On Sunday, my husband called to see how Uncle Bill was doing. We all knew he was seriously ill and would not survive much longer. When Aunt Emmy answered the phone, she told us his grave condition would soon end. We talked about Uncle Bill as we drove to the farmer’s market and then, about an hour later, when we were at home, Aunt Emmy called. Uncle Bill was gone.
I began unloading the bounty from the farmer’s market and realized, crud, here goes that stupid verb tense change thing again.
Uncle Bill was a heck of a guy. He was into everything. An avid Boy Scout leader, a researcher, very active in his church, he was a microbiology professor at Bowling Green University, he was a husband of 56 years and a father of four. And he was quirky. Like you’ll never meet another Uncle Bill. They broke the mold, as people would say. For example, he and Aunt Emmy were fascinated with Civil War medicine and attended conventions and seminars about it. Did you even know there were Civil War medicine conventions?? On their way to these conventions, they would stop by and visit. It’s there that I got to meet and love good ‘ole Uncle Bill.
When Mark’s mom (Uncle Bill’s sister) died about 15 years ago, I gave the tearful eulogy. As I recall, he was the first person to come up to me afterward and give me a hug. I will never forget his kindness.
So in the span of 48 hours, I have reasons to weep over loss and verb tense change. We are on our way to Ohio for the services. I have Kleenex, family, memories and my Jesus to see my through.