In the dead of night, Sam was lying awake with his hands clasped behind his head. He had not gotten an ounce of sleep since got into bed. He picked up his phone to check the time. It was 3am. Four hours had elapsed since he got beneath the covers. The cold harshness of reality would not let him drift off. Every time his eyes got heavy, thoughts of his misfortunes would come surging through and all traces of sleep would be dissipated. Sam’s world was being rocked by relentless, malevolent waves.
He could no longer ignore the pounding on his head. He threw the covers to the side and groped in the dark for the pill container. He grabbed it and popped it open only to find it empty. Not even a dosage of prescription pills could numb his pain. He sat on the edge of the bed with head between his hands. He was shrouded in the darkness of despair. He had hit rock-bottom. Sam had been left by his wife of thirteen years, barely a month after losing his job.
Having been working in the procurement department for many years, Sam had known that the company he was working for was going through financial difficulties. Suppliers were not being paid on time and on more than one occasion, a cheque had bounced. But he never expected things to turn out as they did. Not even when the human resources manager called him into his office. He had given the company seven years of his life and he had been working with such dedication. Over the years, he had risen from a clerical position to a head of department. He even thought the white envelope being issued to him by the HR was his bonus. He was smiling broadly as he received it with both hands.
When his employer said that the company was letting him go, he was nonplussed. Words departed him. He stared at him with his mouth open. His thoughts were scattered like sand in the wind. He thought about his newly acquired house. He still had just started paying the mortgage. He thought about his wife. After an extensive discussion with her, Sam had agreed to set up a catering business for her. He thought about his daughter. He wondered if she would resent him after he pulled her out of the distinguished private school she attended. His world was shattering right before his eyes. He sat there hoping to wake up from the awful nightmare. But that was not to be.
The HR tried to be polite about it. He talked about downsizing and cost-cutting, and that they regretted having to let him go. But the more he spoke the more worked up Sam became. The company was discarding him like unwanted trash. It was putting him through a shredder. When he could no longer contain himself he gave vent to his anger. He demanded to know if the nine years of service meant anything to his employers. Nine years of unwavering loyalty and devotion, and he was being let go without prior notice. Sam was furious as he left his employer’s office. He was disheartened as he cleared his desk. He walked out with his chin on his neck. The sympathetic looks on the faces of his colleagues made the situation even worse.
One month later, Sam got home and found his wife sitting on the couch. She looked gloomy, like she had been crying. On closer observation, he noticed that her eyes were red and swollen. He had gotten accustomed to coming home to a dull, lifeless house but not once had he seen her in that state. Before he could utter a word, she asked him to sit and he sat beside her. She seemed to struggle to find her words. This only intensified the tension in their living room. When she finally spoke, what came out cut through Sam’s heart like a sharp blade.
Sam’s wife couldn’t even look at her husband as she began to speak. She stared at the coffee table as she told him that their marriage had become dull. That their once warm home now felt cold and unfamiliar. That she had not signed up for the kind of life she was being subjected to. When she finally turned to face him, she disclosed that she felt that she had fallen out of love and it was time for her to move on and see what else was out there for her.
Sam tried to talk her out of it. He told her that she was still the love of his life and apologized for seeming distant over the past few days. He tried to make her understand that he was simply going through a rough patch. That it was only a test. That he would pull through. That they could still work things out. He reminded her of the vows they had made thirteen years ago when they tied the notch. He even brought up their beautiful daughter who was at that time in a boarding school. But his wife would not hear any of it. Her mind was made up. There was nothing Sam would have said to change her mind. That same night, she packed her belongings and walked out of their home. Watching her walk out of the door tore his heart into pieces.
Once again, Sam was bereft. His heart was shattered. The woman that had once won his heart had discarded it like a piece of garbage. His wife, the woman that had sworn to stand by him through the good and bad times, had turned to be his executioner. An angel turned foul. So many questions ran through his mind. He had given her everything she had ever wanted. He had provided for her and treated her like a queen. He had tried his best to keep her happy. But his best had not been good enough. She had left him; miserable and alone.
Three days later as he sat on the edge of his bed, Sam wondered how the life that was once full of bliss had turned to be so brutal. The lush and beautiful world he once knew was now filled with darkness and despair. He felt forsaken and abandoned. His chest was heavy with grief. The pain was unbearable. He could no longer keep it together. That night, Sam sobbed.
After his well of tears had run dry, his t-shirt was soaking wet. He got up and switched on the lights. He rummaged through his wardrobe for a clean t-shirt. He then stood in front of the mirror to see what was left of him. He was frail. He looked much older than he did a month ago. His spirit was crushed. He glanced at the sticker right above the mirror that had some words printed on. Words that were about to change his life. They read:
It Is Not About What’s Gone – But What’s Given
He had seen that sticker countless times before but not once had he given them much thought – probably because they had never been of any relevance in his life before. But that Sunday morning those words registered in his mind. He stood there and looked at them intently. He let them sink. And when they did, he felt his misery being enshrouded by a warm coat of reprieve.
Those words made him realize that he had not lost everything. He might have lost his job but he still had a sound mind and well functioning limbs. His wife might have deserted him but he still had a daughter that reminded him of all that’s beautiful and delightful. He picked up his wallet and took out a portrait of his daughter. He held it between his fingers and gazed at it. Her smiling face relieved him of his anguish. For the first time that month, Sam let out a warped smile. For her sake, he resolved to pull himself together and to work tirelessly toward getting his life back on track. He said a silent pray and thanked God for what He had already given him. When he got back into bed at the break of dawn, he immediately fell asleep.