Never forget

Day 85–Sept. 26 (Beaver Falls, PA-New Castle, PA 18 miles)

In the bad times, when we struggle and make our way through hardship or tragedy, we vow we will never forget. But we do forget.

When I was first married I can remember struggling to pay the bills and staying up nights wondering how we were going to keep ahead of our debts. On more than one occasion we accidentally closed out our checking account because we balanced it to $0.00. My husband did not have a job. He had been offered a wonderful position with Newsweek covering the 2000 elections but could not take it because he was a British citizen and lacked a work permit. And so we struggled on my lowly reporter’s salary. Yes we had a roof over our head and food to eat, but we did not have any extra money. We didn’t even have enough for him to buy a newspaper while he was stuck at home all day.

Now, I am not proud to say, we have wasted more money in one year than I was earning a decade ago. I can’t imagine having a bank balance of $0. And I cannot understand why he felt we could not afford a newspaper. That is not to say we are wealthy or do not struggle. But certainly I pay less attention to where each dollar goes and need to remind myself just how lucky I am.

Of course I don’t think I am the only one who has forgotten what it is like to truly struggle. I recently had a conversation with a friend who told me that when he was in college he was so poor that he took a second job at a restaurant so he could get a free meal there. Now he earns a very comfortable living as does his partner. He said he has to remind himself that many of his friends do not earn as much and that while he is wondering how they are going to pay for new steel countertops his friends are wondering how they are going to pay for groceries.

So I will not say we should never forget, because we will forget. Instead I will say to look around and lend your neighbors a hand.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper