“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
― Pema Chödrön

Many years ago, I went through a seriously hard time.

I was working as a waitress and living with my 12-year-old son and my diabetic mother in a one-bedroom Hollywood apartment. The rent was $190/month, not expensive even then, but more than I could afford.

Every month for a whole summer, I came home to an eviction notice taped to the door. And every month, I managed to scrape up enough tips just in time to keep our place for another month.

I felt the crushing weight of worry on my head that summer. I consoled myself by saying that God was testing me. I learned the value of plodding and eventually, I passed the test.

Fast forward three years. Life was much better now, though I still lived just beyond my means. (It’s the American Way, right?) Now, my mother was dying of cancer in a hospital bed set up in our bedroom.

Hospice sent a nurse and a volunteer every day to take care of Mom while I worked to pay the $400/month rent.

On my way home every day, I stopped at no less than three Baskin-Robbins stores to drown my sadness in triple-dip cones.

When they didn’t work, I turned to alcohol. (Not while driving, however.)

One day, I burst into tears at a stoplight, remembering the day before when Mom couldn’t even hold her head up any more.

I thought about that earlier hard time and joked out loud, “Hey God, WTF? I thought I passed the test.”

And the voice in my head said, like a radio announcer after those civil alerts every first Wednesday:


I don’t know what the other drivers at that stoplight must have thought when they saw me howling with laughter as the tears streamed down my cheeks but I had to admit, it was the funniest joke ever.

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  • BFG

    I bet even that was just a test too, it seems to be the way it is.

    BTW nice TV test pattern.

    And Happy Mothers Day to you in a few.

  • Laila Atallah

    This is insanely moving. Thank you Lavonne … and happy birthday! <3

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