Keep Moving Forward

No matter how tough it seems, keep thinking ahead and preparing your systems for the future.

Fifteen years can feel like both an eternity and a fleeting moment, depending on your frame of reference.

Much of February 2005 is a blur for me, but there are a few moments from that time, images and conversations that will be clear in my head for as long as I live. My mom passed away on Feb. 13, 2005. I was sitting beside her bed, holding her hand.

At the time, I couldn’t imagine getting through the rest of the day, let alone the next 15 years. Her death wasn’t a surprise. She’d been sick with cancer for a year and a half and was on hospice care at that point. But that moment, when you know you’ll never get to say another word or ever again hear the voice of someone you love, is crushing. It’s impossible to think forward.

I was running her business at the time. I’d work all day, go home for dinner in the evening and then go back and work until I was too tired to do anything but sleep. It’s all I could do. I couldn’t sit still or give my mind the time or space to roam. Constant work kept me going. The sadness never went away, but day by day, painfully slow, things got better.

A couple years later I sold out the inventory and closed the business. It was like saying goodbye all over again. But I needed to get back into journalism and return to the career I’d started before I moved home to take care of my mom.

I spent four years at a newspaper before coming to COLE Publishing. Those four years were constant work, whether I was home, at the office or on vacation. It was a job you couldn’t clock out and forget about for the night or weekend. It wasn’t until I started at COLE that I felt like I finally came up for air for the first time since my mom passed.

Dealing with a sanitary sewer overflow or broken water main isn’t on the same level as losing a family member, but you can only lose someone once. That’s not the case with overflows and broken mains, which get more frequent as infrastructure ages. They happen again and again. And like my newspaper days, worries about your system don’t end when you clock out. You never know when an emergency is going to pull you away from dinner or out of bed.

Running water and wastewater systems is a commitment that goes way beyond the standard workday. You’re not just earning a paycheck; you’re taking care of your community. I know it’s difficult to see the light some days, but if you keep looking forward, pushing rehabilitation and improvement initiatives, a few years down the road you might come up for air and realize you’ve made real progress.

Fifteen years from now you’ll no doubt be wondering where all the time went. But if you focus on the right things now, you might just be amazed at how far your systems and communities have come.

So spend your time wisely, and don’t stop moving forward.

Enjoy this month’s issue.


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