Sometimes when in times of trouble

My husband walked out of my life the week school started, and my mother passed away 10 days ago. My siblings are bickering, my son is depressed, and I am overwhelmed by sadness and grief for all that I’ve lost this year. I still wake up at 3:00 am in a panic about finances. Oh — and I’m teaching full time in a public school in the midst of a pandemic.

But one thing I’ve experienced has been a huge source of comfort: female friends. Neighbors, colleagues, relatives, and acquaintances have reached out to me just to talk, go for a walk, bring a meal, flowers, offer to feed the cat, hug me, say how much they’ve been thinking about me, offer condolences, or lend an ear.

“You will always find people who are helping,” children’s TV host Fred Rogers famously said. I’ve always been the one doing the helping, so it feels a little awkward to be on the receiving end of so much caring support. But I am enormously thankful. I think I’ve even made a couple of new friends.

It’s taken me decades to learn a lesson that many women know from their earliest years of life: Women will support you if you show vulnerability and express a need. Why did I wait until my 60’s to open up? Talking about hurt and pain is a way to ease it. I so appreciate everyone who has reached out to me these last couple of months.

Tribute to my mother, Ruth Christ Sullivan.

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Eva K. Sullivan teaches English Language Learners in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland. She was an English Language Fellow with U.S. Department of State during the 2017-2018 school year, working with the Ministry of Education in Laos, Southeast Asia. She writes short stories, personal essays, and has completed a memoir about her experiences as an expat in West Africa in the 1990s.

2 thoughts on “Sometimes when in times of trouble”

  1. Oh Eva. I sensed the sadness and wanted to meet you today. Deep condolences. I hope and think that you may be getting out on the river right now. Hope so and if not find another time. Thank you for sharing and hug to you. I seriously recommend you subscribe to Sirius and listen to Channel 18 The Beatles channel as much as you can. 😊✌️ Those boys were wise before their time and a salve for the soul. I can recommend the best shows but it’s all Fab. And I swear to God I’ve just printed out your mother’s obituary and will be giving it to young parents of a big little 4 yr old girl that I believe is on the spectrum. She joined my Sunday school class last Sunday and was so sweet, unfocused and wild. An inspiration indeed as are you! Going to be looking into the Writers Group this Another friend also inspires there. So take heart and wash that guy right out of your hair. I hope your son finds comfort – hey try him on channel 18 too! Such a hard time for young people especially. ✌️🙏😘😔


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