When things seem bleak, when life seems hopeless, take a deep breath and take a second look, because many times we find life in what appears to be lifeless.

I have terrible luck with some of life’s easiest things.

I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life. Even the so-called “really hard to kill” plants wither in my presence as if their roots are incapable of absorbing water.

And those poor little fish. I don’t even want to think about how many Nemos we’ve had to flush down the toilet.

Even with this baggage, I agree to check in on my neighbor’s pets while she is away on vacation. I pour fish food into the bowl and feed their adorable gerbil. The next day, I shakily open their front door. First stop, the fish bowl. Crap!

I’m met with the reality that I will indeed have to make a sad call to my friendly neighbor. Apparently, giving fish a little extra food is a BAD thing.

Let’s hope the gerbil made it. Great, he looks fine, all curled up in a ball, sleeping soundly…in his food. Uh oh. I poke at Roo’s tiny body with my finger, but he doesn’t respond. No movement whatsoever. Gulp! He’s dead too! I want a second opinion, so I call my husband over, who could get a job as a funeral director at this point. He confirms that Roo is no more.

I swear I did everything they said to do but now two pets are no longer living, seemingly because of me. I make the dreaded call to my neighbor. I cannot apologize enough, and then I tell her I will bury poor Roo. My husband and I expertly perform the ceremony, and then I pour dirt over the unlucky gerbil.

Two months later…she asks me again!

Yes, that’s right, even after the last debacle, I am once again asked to help with the new pets, or make that pet. There’s just a gerbil this time.

The first day is a particularly bad one for me. I’m struggling with a conflict at work, which is stressing me out. My own home duties are overwhelming. There is not enough time in the day! I’m lacking energy and motivation. I wearily stare at my reflection in the hallway mirror. Ugh, why did I do that!? My haggard appearance is appalling. Look at those eyes! No life in them at all. I look defeated. The hope I had for a good day is completely gone; it probably crawled under the sofa.

I begrudgingly go next door to look in on the new gerbil. He has a note by his cage: Hi, my name is Melvin. Please take good care of me.

I want to introduce myself to Melvin, but he’s not there to greet me. I’m actually starting to think he’s escaped, which means this little guy is pretty smart, avoiding the likes of me. I look more closely and see that he’s buried himself in his bedding with just an ear poking out. My breath catches for an instant, hoping this is not going to be Groundhog’s Day. I whisper his name. “Melvin…Melvin.” His head jerks up kick-starting my heart. He’s alive! He turns and looks at me with his cute little eyes, nose twitching. Is that fear in his gaze? It’s definitely apprehension. Clearly he’s been drilled on what to expect from me.

A Second Look

I laugh at myself all the way home. All of a sudden my conflict at work is not such a big deal. That giant task list at home is less daunting.

Opening my front door, I breeze through with a peppier step. I pass the hallway mirror and I pause, then go back to take a second look. This time the eyes staring back at me are alive, fully engaged, and encouraged. There’s even hope there!

Let that be a lesson to me

When things seem bleak, when life seems hopeless, take a deep breath and take a second look, because many times we find life in what appears to be lifeless.

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