When you live in the Chicago area you get used to unusual weather, so the hurricane type winds we have been having the past few days aren't that big a deal. Also, a few years back a tornado flew over my home and caused a great deal of yard damage, so again, this storm is nothing.
But last night, I had to drive to the other side of town to attend a parent meeting on financial aid for college and the wind was whipping and it was cold and very dark - the moon hadn't risen yet. It was a night to stay warmly tucked in at home eating grilled cheese sandwiches and soup with family.
As I drove across town, I am always struck by how pretty and quaint our community is. Block after block of nice homes with nice families living in them. This time of year I like peeking into the lit windows to observe the peaceful pictures of family life I sometimes get a glimpse of. I have done this since my husband died. It comforts me to view families that are "normal" in the sense that they are still whole with a mom, dad, kids and maybe grandparents in the home.
I know our family is still a family (we refer to ourselves as three peas in a pod) but it has always felt so incomplete since my husband left us. I liked the feel of us as a foursome, and it has never felt the same in terms of the solidarity, strength, security and comfort I used to derive from us all living and being together.
I dreaded going out last night. That familiar feeling of having to head up our family yet again on my lonesome and the thought of facing college costs scares the daylights out of me. In fact, I didn't even have the money for gas to make it across town and had to scramble as I so often do to find a source of "hidden" change somewhere. Guess where $4.00 popped up? I located my husband's old wallet! So I had enough gas money! I keep telling myself that I need to ask for more money - finding a twenty would have nice but all I prayed for was enough to get me to the meeting and back and that was what I received. I guess I don't ask for enough!
I tried to make the best of things by enjoying the Halloween lights and decorations that were up as I drove to the meeting, almost hitting a huge tree limb I didn't see in the middle of the road! And the meeting was informative. Turns out our living under severely reduced circumstances will garner my sons at least $18,000 yearly for college - and they will have to pay nothing if they go to a community college or commuter college like University of Illinois at Chicago. And the private schools who have been recruiting my son (one volleyball coach made the trip from Ohio a couple of weeks ago to personally talk with him) can provide other funding money besides. I've only been steering my son to the community college but it appears there are many other doors open to him.
Speaking of doors. I pass by those warm and inviting homes and always think to myself how many more of them there are than me. By that I mean, more intact families, families not facing life as my sons and I now know it. I do not consider this life normal at all, not by what most people define as a normal, safe, secure family life. I am a silent observer, driving through the dark quiet night in my loud, older model sedan reflecting back to the life that used to also be mine - driving ahead into a future unknown and at this point feeling less than secure and stable. But I'm still driving ahead. I guess that is what is most important. That I keep driving onward.