A Step Closer

My friend Heather over at For the First Time wrote, “I’ve long said that everything that goes wrong in life is a step closer to things going right.”

I can’t help but agree with her.  As I look back through the years, I can see now that the hardest times were, in retrospect, setting me up for wonderful things.  Yes, it was harder than hell to go through those times, but in the end I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We taught overseas for many years, and expected to continue teaching overseas until the kids graduated from high school and went off to college.  Life was good and we saw no reason to leave it.

But then came the year from hell. 

In August, the day before we were to fly to Malaysia to begin new jobs, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I debated on whether or not to get on that plane – in fact a few hours before we left I packed the suitcase with my things on one side and John and the kids’ stuff on the other to make it easier to pull mine out should I decide not to go.  In the end, I boarded the plane with my family and began the worst six months of my life.

From the moment we landed in Malaysia it was wrong.  Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with Malaysia itself – but everything that could go wrong did.  Our shipment was delayed, so we got our belongings the day before school started – which meant all was chaos at home.  I got my classroom a few hours before the kids arrived – which meant all was chaos at school.  Daryl fell off the monkey bars two weeks later and broke his arm.  Two weeks after that he came down with a mystery illness that three different doctors couldn’t diagnose.  All I knew was that I had a kid with a 105 degree fever for ten days – and he was losing weight like crazy.

Strong antibiotics seemed to take care of Daryl, but not before I came down with the worst cold in my life, and a viral pink eye infection.  Two weeks later my eyes were no longer infectious, and I could go back to work – when Daryl got sick again.

Eventually I found a good pediatrician who diagnosed Daryl with acute pneumonia, hospitalized him, and fed him a steady diet of the right antibiotics.  He came home on Halloween.

I thought my battles were over but, as it turned out, they were only just beginning.  My principal was being fired and took all her frustrations out on me.  Then the tsunami hit.  Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.

When the owner of my school called me in to his office in January and offered to buy out my contract, I jumped on it.  A few weeks later the kids and I were back in Idaho living with Grandma.  I felt like my life was over. 

Now, with the wisdom of hindsight, I can say with certainty that those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad six months set me up for the most wonderful times of my life.  If we had stayed in overseas schools we never would have quit our jobs to take our last trip, and we certainly wouldn’t have quit again to take this trip.  I would still be in a classroom somewhere in the world, dealing with other people’s kids rather than my own.  I would have missed out on seeing my own boys grow up before my eyes.

If I had it to do all over again, I would do it all in a heartbeat – as awful as it was.  It was that worth it.


This post is part of the AW Blog Chain.  The next link is Writes in the City

To read the entire chain, visit these blogs:

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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15 Responses to A Step Closer

  1. WendyCinNYC May 13, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    That’s such and interesting story and so true, these things really do shape our lives for the better.

  2. Auria Cortes May 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    Oh, I don’t know. In my life I can see that negatives turn into positives. But from afar, it seems that many people are just down in the dumps. They don’t embrace missteps. And let life get them down.

  3. nancy May 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm #

    I guess it’s our choice how we choose to look at those times. Some people will get in the pity party cycle and just keep going down – but I won’t let myself do that.

  4. Kathleen May 14, 2008 at 7:30 am #

    Bless you for enduring. I wouldn’t take back any of the hard times, either.

  5. FreshHell May 14, 2008 at 8:16 am #

    My life has also taken a few “dead ends” that, had they never happened, would never have led me to where I am today. With this husband, with these children, in this town. So, while there were some bad decisions and tough times, I can’t say I’d want to change my past because who knows what the repercussions would have been to the future?

  6. Razib Ahmed May 14, 2008 at 9:35 am #

    I like your sense of optimism. This is really needed for all of us. Why don’t you write some more sharing your experience in Malaysia? The readers could know about the country and its education system. Do you have any plan to go back to Malaysia again for teaching?

  7. nancy May 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    Hey Razib! I do bring Malaysia (and Taiwan and Ethiopia and Egypt) in every once in a while since they are part of who I am – but for some reason I don’t write about them very often at all. Don’t know why. We are toying with the idea of teaching overseas again someday, but I’m not sure when that will be. I guess we’ll just take it one day at a time and go from there.

  8. Laurie Ashton May 15, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    I’ve had my own share of storms before the calms and great surprises come out of nowhere. Life is interesting like that. Or, rather, life can be interesting like that if you’re open to the possibilities, which it sounds like you are. 🙂 I like possibilities. 🙂

  9. Colby Marshall May 16, 2008 at 7:10 am #

    I think I do agree. There are many things in my life that on the surface I would think I’d want to go back and change, but when I really think about it I wouldn’t because they’ve shaped who I am.

  10. nancy May 16, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    I really do think all those horrible times shape us and mold us into who we’ve become. If we are happy with who we are now, then all those things become worth it.

  11. nancy May 17, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    I like that – those who recognize the silver lining inthe clouds are the ones who’ll pull through. True, so true.

  12. Elrena (mamawriter) May 19, 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    I am so fascinated by your upcoming trip, your plans, the details, everything! I keep telling my friends to check out your site, and I’ll be back here reading updates long after the blog chain is over.

    Best of luck to you!!

  13. nancy May 19, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    Thanks Elrena!! There are days when I think all these preparations are downright boring – but then something happens to change my mind!!

  14. Mad Scientist Matt May 23, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Quite an inspiring story, and I guess it’s a good thing to read after a bad day. I had a car overheat and was worried I’d blown the motor, but at least I didn’t have to deal with any tsunamis. I’m glad it all worked out.

  15. Heatheraynne May 25, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    I’m often left retracing the steps of my life. As awful as some of the experiences have been, I know they have all led me to where I am today. Because of that, I don’t know that I would change anything. There are too many things in my present that I couldn’t live without, and just one minor change could mean that wouldn’t be there.

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