You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone
Why do we work? If we think about this question carefully and answer truthfully, most of us will answer that we work to earn a living in order to pay for things like a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, and food to eat. But how many of us appreciate the fact that we can work?
For twenty-five years I worked full-time as a registered nurse at a local hospital in a busy operating room where we performed many different surgeries – from simple tonsillectomies to complicated brain surgeries. There were many emergency surgeries and I couldn’t even tell you the number of times when I was part of a surgical team that saved a patient’s life. My work could be very awesome and rewarding; it could also be very stressful.
During this time I led a very busy life. Every day, after working an eight-hour shift at the hospital, I would rush home to my “other” job as wife and mother. Our three children kept my husband and me very busy. We had to chauffeur them to all their activities, wherever they might be. Our children were involved in many activities from sports to dancing and music lessons. We spent countless hours in hockey arenas, on baseball and football fields, in dance and karate studios, and in gymnasiums for gymnastic classes. I cannot even count the number of times we attended boy scout and girl scout meetings, school plays, orchestra concerts, and cello recitals. Our children loved these extracurricular activities and we felt they helped to make our children well-rounded. In addition, my husband and I were active members in our church and we volunteered for many ministries. We were so busy; and now, many years later, it’s all just a blur to me.
While our children were growing up, I fervently wished I didn’t have to work. I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom instead. After telling my husband how I felt about this, we sat down and took stock of our financial situation. But even after much juggling here and there, we still could not find a way to make this a reality. Our finances simply could not support my wish of being a stay-at-home mom. I couldn’t even cut back to part-time! So I reluctantly resigned myself to this fact and went about the business of being a full-time working wife and mother.
Then a few years later, when our youngest was in high school, our world came crashing down. I was diagnosed with a serious illness which soon took its toll. After several attempts at working even though I was ill, I just couldn’t do it any more. It was simply too painful for me to continue and so I became medically disabled. My wish had finally come true – I could not work any more, not even part-time.
It didn’t take long for me to discover that staying home from work was not all it was cracked up to be, especially if you were sick and in bed most of the time like I was.
Not only that, but I missed my work; I missed my friends; I missed the busy schedule; and my husband and I really missed the salary I had been making. And even more than those things, I missed the person that I once was – a healthy, vital, happy woman who had something to offer to the world.
And now, instead of waking up every morning, jumping out of bed, and getting ready for work, here I am – sick at home with the days stretching out before me with really nothing to do. Sometimes I’m so lonely that I go into an internet chat room just to have someone to socialize with. And talk about being bored to tears! After all, there is only so much television that a person can watch in a day. And then the depression sets in. I’ve cried more than my share and have often wondered why I’ve been given this lot in life. Being a person of faith, I know it’s just part of our heavenly Father’s plan, but sometimes this fact is not so consoling.
With all this time on my hands, I do a lot of thinking. I think about those busy days when the kids were growing up, and I remembered that we really did have a lot of fun together. I think about the nursing job I had and all the worthwhile work I was doing, like saving people’s lives and making people’s lives better with the surgeries that we performed, and that maybe those surgeries went so well because I was there to help. I think about the conversations I had with my friends at work during coffee breaks or lunch, and how much I miss their company. I think about the days when I could buy something new and not have to worry about the expense.
As I think about the past twenty-five years, it is then that I realize something. I realize that all I’ve really done was wish my life away – instead of appreciating the life I was living at the time.
So my advice to you is this: Enjoy your life. Live in the moment. Learn how to take the bad with the good. And make wonderful memories.
And remember that it’s true what they say: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it is gone!”