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Slices of Life

Becoming a survivor

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“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”

- Gloria Gaynor


My life has become a series of projects. Flooring. Painting cabinets. Refinishing countertops. Installing baseboards and backsplashes. Sewing curtains. Replenishing bedding. Creating new heater covers. Patching and repairing. Repairing and patching. 

Doing and redoing. 

I even distributed a bit of glitter onto the bathroom countertops.

I counted 23 or maybe 24 projects this spring and summer, and I felt a little accomplished. Puffed up, even.

But then the forbidding thought crept in. Is this pride? Are you letting your ego get the best of you?

I gulped and thought about it. Truly thought about it.

Are my projects done in a prideful manner? Am I completing them because I am proud? Yes, I am truly proud of them. 

But are they prideful? 

In an answer - no. Not at all. 

I don’t believe I am doing them because I am proud. I am doing them to survive. To breathe; sometimes literally to breathe.

I am a widow and every day is a challenge. I understand that sounds pathetic, but until you’ve lived it, please don’t judge. Living each day to survive is a reality for more people than you might imagine.

People who, like me, have lost a spouse. People who have lost a child. People who have lost a career. People who have lost friends or family. People who have lost their health. People who have lost a lifestyle. People who have lost – fill in the blank – and there are an infinite number of blanks.

Because so many, many people have lost. Truly lost. Feel truly lost. Are truly lost.

If you can’t imagine it, consider yourself lucky. 

Completing 23 (or maybe 24) projects for me doesn’t denote pride, it illustrates survival.

And of that, I’m damn proud. I am a survivor. 

I’ve defied the odds. I’ve stepped forward when there was nowhere else to go. I found the light within a darkened room - a darkened world - and I walked outside into the sunshine. 

I found the light again.

So, forgive me for my glitter. It reflects the light. Forgive me for my projects. They beget creativity and to me that feels like life renewed. Forgive me for being just a little bit happy (dare I say proud?) because they demonstrate that I am a survivor - to the outside world, but more importantly to me.

And you know what? You are a survivor as well. I don’t know your background or your history but I know you’ve overcome some things that were pretty hard. I know you live a tough life every day. I know you’ve struggled, or perhaps are struggling right now, as you read this. I know you have challenges that no one will ever quite understand.

Because we all do. 

And it sucks. And I’m so sorry for that.

But I’ve come to believe this is how it is supposed to be. The tough times make the good ones great and gratefully welcomed. Tough times soften us - in a good way. They help us understand that every step forward is a step in the right direction. Even if it involves glitter. 

Especially if it involves glitter.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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