The woman behind the counter affixed the mailing label to my package. I asked her, noticing a slight hesitation in my voice, “Do you know when it will arrive?”
I was curious, yes, but what I really wanted to know at that moment was a precise date. I wanted the post office lady to tell me she knew for certain when my friend would receive her gift, but more than that I longed for reassurance that we were all going to make it.
I searched her eyes for confidence and didn’t find it. Instead, she replied laughingly and with a tinge of sarcasm, “The postal service isn’t guaranteeing anything right now.” She continued, “I’ve been wanting to post a sign on the front door.”
Apparently, I am not the first person to come to her secretly hoping to have my mail tracked, insured, and guaranteed to arrive within a paid-for window of time.
Instead of bursting into tears over her inability to give me an exact date, because truly how embarrassing would that be, I resorted to humor… about COVID and patience and how if there’s anything we’ve learned through all this it’s that life in general never comes with guarantees.
Then, when I got home and threw the four boxes of COVID tests, last-minute Christmas presents, and a dozen eggs that I had purchased from Target onto the bed, a swelling wave of sadness washed over me.
“They were 25 dollars,” I reported flatly to my husband while he stood at his desk.
“I’m just so tired of this,” and with those 6 words, the rest of the blister popped and I knew relief would follow soon enough. I let him pull me in for a long hug. “Me too.”
We stood there for a second embracing, pressing our bodies up against each other. We reached for renewed strength and solidarity, hoping we’d find it through a simple touch.
At the same time, our kiddos arrived home in a flurry of excitement at exactly 4:09 pm, not a minute late. They tossed their shoes into the entryway bucket and proceeded to tear open the Christmas goodie bags they had received from their teachers.
Humor and tears. Celebration and sorrow. Presents and patience.
It’s all there. It always has been. That much is guaranteed.