I would like to take the day off of work tomorrow so I can be with my son for his check-up.  But I can’t.  My family can’t afford to have me miss a day at work.  We are barely squeaking by, and missing a day or half of a day or even a couple hours of pay would hurt our pocketbook too much.

Not being able to attend his appointment – to be able to comfort him when he receives his shots – is just a cruel reminder how dire our money situation really is.

When my fiancé was laid off last summer, we were okay financially.  I was confident he would find work and in the meantime we would survive on my salary and our savings.  Fast forward a year — he is still unemployed, our savings are gone and we are living paycheck to paycheck. 

In the past year though, we have lost more than just our savings.  We’ve lost ourselves.  Financial stress has turned us into zombies.  We are consumed with fear and worry.  Fear that we won’t have enough money to pay our bills; worry that an emergency will come up.  The kind of stress money creates is all consuming and totally exhausting.  When I think of how close we are to losing everything, my chest tightens, my throat aches with tears and my head blurs.

Why can’t a well-trained, hard working person find a decent job?

(Courtesy of Thera Larson)

How long are we going to live like this? 

These are the two questions I ask myself, my fiancé, God, every day.  Those two questions haunt me.  Those two questions have changed me forever.  Those two questions have given me hard doses of reality and determination.  Those two questions have given me strength and motivation.

I’m returning to school to get my MBA and I’m determined to learn from this experience.  This has been the hardest year of my life and it’s not over.  I’m sure there will be harder things to come but for today, I have hope.

Thera Larson, a 33-year-old from Bowie, Md., is the fiancee of a union sheet metal worker who has been out of work for more than a year. Read more about her here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.