I remember the marble being such a pretty color, peachy with ribbons of coral running through it. It was everywhere. Marble tub. Marble sink. Marble floor. “That’s a lot of stinkin marble,” I thought to myself as I was lying there, half-naked, face-down on the floor with a nose that might be broken. I was only sixteen. When it happened– the familiar burning and surging and cramping in my abdomen– I’d carry pillows with me to the toilet. I figured that if I passed out, they would break the fall. It never worked, and I never learned.
Once, after waking up on the floor in a public stall, I simply wiped my face off and headed back to Chemistry class. My friends in college all freaked out in that dramatic, ohmygodshe’stotallygoingtodie way, as supportive as newly formed friends who share a common dormitory can possibly be. The doctors never figured out why the pain caused me to pass out. The neurologist ruled out epilepsy, although according to some probe-strapping test, something was definitely a “bit off” with my brainwaves. That explains a lot. But one day, I had a beautiful little girl and I never passed out again.
My life doesn’t exactly follow the odds. I guess you could say I’m lucky.
▪ Ten years ago, an oncologist told me I had a chunk of melanoma living in my eye socket. Eye cancer is very rare, as it turns out. One in a million. Who knew I’d get to travel to Philadelphia and have surgery in one of America’s oldest cities? As it turns out, I love cheesesteak and Thomas Jefferson.
▪ When I was in the hospital after the birth of my daughter, first a week and extending to three and then four, undergoing multiple surgeries and stabbing myself with blood-thinner injections, I was told it wasn’t exactly normal. I tried to put on lipstick to make it all better, but with a four-week-old child at home I’d barely begun to hold, Chanel can only do so much. Don’t get me wrong – it can do a lot. But there are limits.
▪ Most people don’t pass out after having their wisdom teeth extracted and have CPR performed in the oral surgeon’s office lobby because they had some extreme reaction to Demerol. Lucky for me, they had some sort of anti-Demorol agent locked away someplace they stuck in my arm. I remember getting to drink juice when I woke up. But then again, I’ve woken up from loads of surgeries, so I might be getting them all confused.
▪ Before the birth of my son, right after the spinal tap was placed and the medicine was slowly crawling through my veins toward the arteries of my heart, it stopped. The monitor would just so naturally flatline, because that’s what luck I have. But like I arose from the marble floor, so too would my heart begin to beat. After, of course, the chest compressions, the stabbing of epinephrine, and some other medication that apparently gives you dry mouth.
So it wasn’t all that surprising that our house was struck by lightning. And instead of killing us or burning our house to the ground, it instead wiped out all our plumbing. “That’s very rare,” the fireman said. Yeah. Welcome to my life. Things happen to me. Things that don’t happen to normal people.
I can’t help but think God has some grand scheme behind all of this, like there is some grand point to be made. In response, I’m actively searching for what that is. What role I need to play in the universe in return for my good fortune. I’m open, as they say, to change.
I am truly grateful for the moments in which we are tested. To see what’s most important. I am grateful for a faith, true and honest, despite all reason to the contrary. I am grateful for this body, as battered and broken as my insides might be. I am grateful that I’m not married to some boring widget of a man, but a man bursting at the seams with heart. I’m grateful for my children, deep in character and beauty. I’m grateful that we are living in a rental, with Goodwill furniture and mice in the garage, because we are together. And laughing. Last night, I fell asleep holding my husband’s hand. And today, my daughter told me she’d give me hugs and kisses even when love got so sweet it turned rotten. I’m a lucky, lucky girl.
I think I’m going to buy a lottery ticket. I’d probably lose. Just my luck.