Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's a Surprise Thing

My day started pretty much like any other day. I got up. I got dressed. I fixed coffee and fed the animals. I helped braid my daughter's hair and finally we were out the door and on the way to school then work. I should have known something was afoot when a dump truck was going faster than the car in front of us or when I nearly ran 3 - count 'em 3 - red lights (OK couch coppers - notice I said "nearly"). Little did I know that my morning was only beginning. I got to work and phone calls from angry residents around the state did little to brighten my day. By 10am I felt like I had accomplished nothing and the morning was progressing at a pace slower than molasses in winter.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, my daughter was experiencing a similar type of morning. She woke as usual and went off on her morning visits of pet-sitting. The first set of puppies were unusually active and took off through the back yard before she could get the leash on them, nearly running her down to get out the door. So she proceeds to amble through overgrowth in flip-flops and enough spider webs to decorate a mansion for Halloween. Little did she know that those dogs knew a way out and proceeded to run rampant through the neighborhood for the next hour. As she was getting to the point of panic and exhaustion, they each ambled their way back to the house ready for breakfast as if nothing unusual had happened.

And so it goes. Our days surprise us. Sometimes the mundane in life is upset by the extraordinary. And sometimes the extraordinary is upset by the mundance. Life can throw some pretty nasty curves and it's the surprise of the attack that sends us off guard. It can be as simple as running late to work and then a busy morning ensues. Or it can be profound like walking into class and learning one of your friends has died in an accident that morning. Life happens. Roadblocks pop up out of nowhere. Boulders come flying at you from somewhere up that hill you were climbing so successfully. How do you cope?

That is something only you can answer for yourself. How do I cope? Honestly I don't know. Some days I feel like I can accomplish anything. Others not so much. But I must say that a new revelation hit me the other day from an unlikely source. I was at a Mother's Day luncheon. One of the women from my mother's church commented on the top I was wearing to the point of pulling at the shoulder and asking, "Do you have a bra on under there? I can't see it!" I was wearing a sleeveless top with latticework around the collar and shoulders. On a day before December 14th there would have been no way I'd wear it unless I had a shirt or sweater to cover the shoulders (and straps). But of course those days are over; so I told her no bra was necessary. "Lucky!" she cried in response. Lucky? I thought. Let me enlighten her. "I had a double mastectomy for breast cancer in December. These puppies ain't going anywhere." "Lucky!" was again her response. I was incredulous. How could this seemingly intelligent being believe I was lucky because I no longer had to worry about underwire? All the emotional turmoil certainly outweighed any positive effects. Or did it?

As I pondered on this exchange over the weekend with life still happening all around (and more boulders hitting than I care to admit), I realized maybe I was lucky, even if lucky doesn't seem like a proper adjective. It seems silly sometimes, not to mention petty and sarcastic, to "find the light at the end of the tunnel." Sometimes you just don't feel like looking for that light. But inevitably the light becomes clear and the darkness fades. Pain heels in time. Scars diminish. Jobs come and go. Fear subsides as the changes you were so afraid of become the norm. Bills get paid or bankruptcy eliminates them and then in time even that becomes a distant memory. Soon I will look and feel as though nothing major happened. Soon the heartache of leaving a beloved job will be forgotten. Soon the pain from losing a loved one will heal. The disappointment from a missed opportunity will fade as new ones come around.

So maybe we are lucky. Maybe we are stronger than we think. Maybe we are meant for greater things or better opportunities are waiting for us but as small children we have to be guided. We have to give up the piece of candy now so we can have the cake later during the party. And people around us will say we are lucky because we got to have cake. It seems hard now but after all is said and done we will have lived and maybe learned a lesson or two along the way. And maybe just maybe someone will look at how we have blossomed after our troubles and say, "Lucky!"

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