Today I took my lab final. It was okay. I don't believe that I bombed it. I don't believe I was anything stellar. You know, I'm okay with that. It was a hard class. As always, I spent a lot of time on the test, and then I walked out of the room, and I was glad to be going.
I drove off and loaded up a truckload of firewood. I'd seen a sign on the way to school. I told Tim, and he told me to drive the truck and stop in and get that wood. It wasn't split, but it was dried. Anyways, I was talking to the property owner as I was tossing that wood in the back of the truck. He was embarrassed not to be helping. He'd taken a bad fall and broken his back a few years back. He'd had a couple steel rods put in, but now he was having some terrible nerve pain. He just found out that he had to have more surgery. He looked at me. "I fell down a flight of stairs, and now I've pretty much disabled." And he was pretty pissed at the turn his life had taken. He said, "My woman is headed off. She's looking for a man in better shape than me. I told her she should. She's a teacher. What can I give her?"
I listened and kept chucking wood on the truck. I had to get back to school for lecture, but this young man's story was bothering me. He talked on, like he'd known me a hundred years, and the frustration just poured out of him. I mean, here he is, maybe in his mid-thirties, and he's looking at life like it's done and over, as if he has no value at all. I said, "You know, life throws you some curve balls sometimes. I had cancer a while back." His eyes looked surprised. "It changed our life, my husband's and mine. Both of us. I can see where a surprise like this might derail your life, but you know, you take a deep breath. It is what it is. And you deal with it. You make the best of it. You know, I've discovered that some mighty powerful stuff happens during the hardest times." He asked questions, listened to what I had to say. I shut the tail gate and walked around to load the last few pieces of wood. "You're a pretty strong woman," he said. "You can tell." I looked at him and said, "You're stronger than you think you are." And he got me a bottle of water from his house. "You know, I've got more wood down back. You can have as much as you want, any time. It's not cut up or anything, but the trees are down and laying there. So if you want to go back, and get it, you are welcome to it." Now there's something you don't get every day...somebody offering you free wood. I told him I'd tell Tim, and walked to the cab of my truck, taking a swig off the water. We thanked each other, and then I headed down his driveway.
I went back to school for that one last lecture. One more final tomorrow. That's it. I'm done. I've made it. I shouldn't have doubted it, because after all, you know, I'm a pretty strong woman. You can tell.