Moore Than We Can Handle

This morning didn’t start well. Amy woke up in a lot of pain, she felt like she had a rib head sticking out. Last night was the final night of me taking Chemo for this current cycle, so I woke up feeling nauseous. When I finally did wake up, we only had 30 minutes before we needed to to pick up RuthMom at LAX (she was returning to help us out for a while and LAX is way more than 30 minutes away…so we started the day off already on a bad note). When we got on the 101 freeway, we could see that the entrance to the 405 was very busy, so we did what we would usually do in that situation, we took the Sepulveda exit and would just get on the 405 off of Sepulveda. When we did reach the 405 entrance off of Sepulveda, however, we discovered that it was closed. We then heard a Jawa yell, “Utinni!!!” (my text message sound), so I checked my phone and saw that RuthMom had just landed and we were still a long ways away. Now with the entrance to the 405 being closed, we were going to have to stay on a very busy Sepulveda which would take us a lot longer than we originally thought.

Amy and I were both feeling pretty stressed at this point and were being a little snappy with each other. Then as we approached the Sepulveda tunnel we felt our car start to “putter” (that’s the best way to describe what it was doing). I told Amy to get over to the shoulder if she could, so we “puttered” our way over to the right lane, but couldn’t get over in time to get onto the shoulder. We ended up entering the tunnel instead and Amy kept asking what we should do, and I thought we could maybe “putter”our way to the other end of the tunnel so that we could reach a shoulder there, but alas, we only “puttered” about half way before our car died. We tried restarting the car, but it stubbornly refused. Fortunately we had just renewed our AAA membership, so we called them and threw on our emergency lights.

Although, if the constant honks were any indication, we knew that we were making everyone in the tunnel angry (because let’s be honest they’re all “extremely important” and obviously way more important than us), we chose to not tempt fate by trying to move it out of the way and decided to wait for AAA to get there. When I got on the phone with AAA, I checked my GPS and it was saying “can’t locate current location” and when the customer service rep got on the line and asked for my location I tried distracting her for as long as possible so that I could walk out of the tunnel and hopefully get service. I told her that we were in a tunnel on Sepulveda and she then of course asked for a cross street and I responded, “Uh, I’m not sure exactly…it’s that tunnel…you know…the one that is in a bunch of movies?” Her response, “Hahaha…Uhhhhhhhhhhhh…” Right then I got out of the tunnel and my phone “located” me and I saw that the cross street was Mulholland Dr. So I told her and she said, “I’ve found you, we’ll have someone there in 30 minutes.”

Our P.O.V. from our broken down car.

We texted my BFF, Richard, and he was able to go pick up RuthMom for us, so we had that burden lifted…Thanks Richard, btw!!! As we waited, Amy started to have a mini breakdown. She was obviously feeling overwhelmed and I think she believed that our car was “kaput, done-zo, out o’ commission forever”. I wasn’t as worried, because it didn’t feel like it was transmission or engine related. As “sweet tears” poured down her face (sorry I think everything she does is sweet…or “hot”) she mumbled, “Why does God keep letting this stuff happen?” She definitely spoke for the both of us at that moment (the biggest thing was that we had no idea how we could afford to replace the car if we had to). But as I sat there and processed this “sucky” moment, I realized that we still didn’t know the ending to the situation (or to the journey we’ve been on these past 6 months) yet. In every good story there is what is called an “All is Lost” moment. It’s the moment when the protagonist or “hero” feels that they’ve done everything they can and have lost all hope for finishing the journey that they’ve been on and just feel like they can’t go any further…but…of course…there is the moment right after that, where they find a renewed sense of purpose and strength and go and kick the bad guys a** and get the girl/prize they’ve been going after the whole time.

But in our “All is Lost” moment as we sat there feeling helpless in the tunnel from “Back to the Future part 2” (where is a hover board when you need it?), it was feeling like another brick was just taken from the middle section of our own personal “Jenga game of life” and you could easily tip us over, I realized that we just needed to search for that renewed strength to keep going. I then leaned over to Amy and said (now keep in mind that I was just realizing this stuff as I was saying it so I don’t deserve any pats on the back or anything), “Doesn’t the Bible say that God won’t give us more than we can handle?”, Amy nodded. “Doesn’t it also say that he knows us better than we know ourselves?”. Amy nodded again as I continued, “Now I could be wrong here, but doesn’t it also say that in all things God works for the good of those who love him?”. Amy looking less overwhelmed, “sweetly” nodded again, “Can you name a time when God hasn’t provided for us these past 6 months?” Instead of nodding, she shook her head instead, and I responded, “So maybe we can handle more than we think, and as much as this sucks right now, maybe we shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves. Just wait. God’s got this…Maybe Doc Brown is waiting for us with a flying Delorean on the other side of this tunnel. Who knows?” Right when I finished saying “…tunnel”, AAA finally showed up.

The famous tunnel scene from Back to the Future 2...Same tunnel where we were stranded.

The AAA guy was a bit of a character. He reminded us of John Tuturro’s character in the Transformer’s movies. We told him what happened and he examined the car. He tinkered with a couple things and was able to get the car started, Y’ay!!! He then advised us to drive to a nearby gas station and toss in a little oil then take it to our mechanic. He followed us and as we got close to the gas station, he pulled ahead of us. It was in this moment where we were able to find that strength that we needed to keep going and it came in an unusual way (and it wasn’t Doc Brown coming to rescue us in a flying Delorean). The mechanic got out of his truck to come point us towards the gas station and as he got out we saw his truck inching forward and a confused look on his face, he quickly jumped back in his truck and was able to stop it from moving. He then got out and walked towards us again and unfortunately Amy’s driver side window doesn’t work so we had to direct him to the passenger side where I was sitting. As he walked towards me, he tripped over the front tires. Amy and I tried to contain ourselves as he approached my window. He told us where the gas station was and as he got back into his truck we saw him moving rapidly in reverse, he actually almost hit us so we honked, and he skidded away as he finally realized what was happening. That whole slapstick routine made Amy and I laugh hysterically and bonded us together in that moment. She then turned towards me and said, “That is exactly what I needed right now. God knew…I love you, honey!!!”

I think the moral of this story for us is that life gives you lots of “All is Lost” moments and we all just need to search for that renewed strength to keep going (even if it’s as absurd as finding humor in a clumsy mechanic). Also, “God knows you better than you know yourself and won’t give you “Moore” than you can handle!!!”