I was planning on writing something different this week from what I ended up doing. Sometimes, life gets in the way of intentions. This time, it was Saturday’s mail that changed my direction for this week.
Many days, my house receives a ridiculous amount of mail. When my son brought it in on Saturday, there were just two items. Two innocuous-looking envelopes. One ended up making me happy… the other, definitely not.
The Happy Letter
A couple of months ago, my daughter was planning to visit Florida. For complicated reasons, she needed to get a hotel room at a Disney-owned property – two hotel buildings known collectively as The Swan and Dolphin. We went online. Searched for the property. Booked a room. And as soon as I got the confirmation, I realized there was a problem.
Disney allows a reservation to be canceled up to five days before it starts, for a full refund. I’ve been to Disney a bunch of times in my life and personally booked all of the trips except one. So, it’s a policy I remembered clearly. Yet the confirmation stated that there were no refunds. None at all.
I checked and the website address began with the expected www.waltdisneyworld. What I had not noticed was that buried in the past in the long URL line was the name of another company – a name that didn’t stand out as actually being a name. I contacted the company at the email from which the confirmation came. I first received an automated reply, and then several hours later received a reiteration of the “no refunds” policy.
I sent an additional email carefully describing the policy of Walt Disney World and the fact that this company had falsely pretended to be the famous brand, actually going to great lengths to fake it. The next day I received another reiteration of the “no refunds” policy and was told that my inquiry was closed. I contacted my credit card company and provided them with all the information to support my refusal to pay the charge for the hotel room.
The happy information I received informed me that the credit company had completed its inquiry and decided in my favor and permanently reversed the charge. It was a big relief because it had been a substantial charge. It also reminded me again that we don’t have to just accept unfair treatment as being unavoidable in life. The company that pretended to be Walt Disney World reservations tried to scam me and would have gotten away with it if I hadn’t kept a level head and strenuously objected.
The Unhappy Letter
The 10th anniversary of my husband’s death because of an impaired driver very recently passed. It was more distressing than I even expected. And then Saturday I received in the mail an official notice that his killer will be released in October, giving me the exact date. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with no possibility of parole. But he didn’t have an approved bail package for a good while before the trial, so the time served while awaiting trial was credited towards his sentence.
I was very conscious at the time of the fact that the drunk/drugged driver received more of a sentence than most offenders do. It’s a horrible truth that most people who kill by operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol receive minimal jail sentences.
There are cases where I can understand that, at least a little bit. But in this case, the other driver knew what he was doing and did it anyway. There was no accidental or unintentional over-imbibing. The torturous legal case was all about the “rights” of the man everybody knew was guilty. Yes, that’s the legal system. Yes, there is a purpose for that system. And yes, sometimes it’s cruel and intolerable for the victim’s family to be forced to witness a “not guilty” plea when a defendant’s guilt is so clear and unquestionable.
My children and I have survived the death of my husband because what other choice is there, really? The pain of his loss doesn’t lessen. You just learn to live with the ebb and flow of it.
You figure out how to survive.
I try to rarely think about the man who broadsided my husband’s minivan. Who smashed directly into the driver’s side door without even hitting the brakes. But now I’ll be doing the mental countdown until he’s released, and then wondering about things I don’t want to think about. Like the “Welcome Home” party he’s certain to receive.
I do believe in second chances. But the choices of that one person killed my husband, killed the father of our children, kicked my MS into overdrive (stress and MS are natural enemies), and negatively impacted every part of our lives – every single day since the crash, and for every day to come. Nothing can make it right ever again. I know that. I also knew his release date would come.
None of that makes the unhappy news imparted by that letter any easier to bear.
What is the lesson I learned from it? Was there one? At this point, I have no idea. I suppose it’s something about how we can tolerate so much more than we ever dreamed we could. But it doesn’t feel like that yet. It just hurts.
What kind of mail have you received lately that brought you either happiness or pain? Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com and let me know. Maybe yours will be a winning comment!