When things happen in my life…things that loosen a shingle or 30…I tend to think a lot about what happened, how it happened and the always impossible, why it happened. I bevome a seeker of answers, if only for brief period of time. My becoming a “do-er”, takes more time.
I was days away from buying a new home that had AMAZING potential when my life changed in about seven ways over the course of a few hours. Doctors, shrinks and well meaning friends will tell you to do nothing drastic for a year. Make no big or rash decisions. Keep the ones you must make to a minimum, such as , “Do I want mayo or mustard OR BOTH on my hamburger today?”
I just got back from Lake Tahoe a few days ago. It was lovely. Possibly a bit too soon to have been moved completely by its beauty, but then again, that’s just me. I take time to process good things. Bad things are immediate. I’m lucky that way.
I should explain that my sisters made it a point for this trip not to be about me. It was never intended to be. We planned it in November. And as much as I tried to keep it about sisters and nieces and snow and unbebelievably stunning vistas, bits and pieces of selfish old me crept in. I kept thinking about all the changes in my life. Oh, it didn’t happen all that often, but thoughts of what my life might have been, what I thoight my life could have been were hard to quell when conversations of husbands, marriage and children reared their heads. I think at ten thousand feet, it only made it worse.
Or maybe, it made things clearer. Not better. But clearer.
I listened to their stories, never trying to convey any similarities or comparisons between them and the life of a brain-addled spinster, former career woman. We’ve all had such similar and extremely different life experiences. I’ve seen both sisters on their knees, one questioning God over the tragic loss of her 19 year old daughter. I’ve seen my other sister bemoan the odds of survival for a gravely ill grandson.
And God knows they seen me gut wrenching scenarios. I was in traction for three months, strung out on pills and hospitaluzed for it more than once and they’ve seen see heartbroken and emotionally destitute over the latest shit stain I allowed in my life. But it hasn’t been all bad. There were flirtations with joy here and there but the fact is, Life is hard. And it’s usually very ordinary. And repetitive. As for the title of this post. Well, we just don’t bandy the term “miracle” around so much anymore. At least I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I know they happen, but I don’t feel like they happen TO ME that often.
I kinda wish I was some little Nazarene kid who lived in a time of bodacious miracles like witnessing burning chariots that flew across the sky or bearing witness to the catch of the day being turned into a lot of bread. But that was then; we’re more enlightened people. Weve learned how to learn. We’re educated. Because of this, logic has replaced magic, and miracles? They happen, but they don’t get the ink like they used to. Por ejemplo: say someone opens a bag of cheesy doodles, grabs one and just before it becomes a part of his lunch, the guy looks down at it and in it, sees the face of Jesus (and why are the faces of Buddha and Mohammed almost always left out of the mix???) This story makes all the news channels. Even The Blaze.
But let’s go beyond that, shall we? A young deaf girl is ice skating and she falls through the ice ad is clinically dead for five minutes. But ten days later she’s not only alive but can hear for the first time in her life. A man is walking through the woods enjoying a bologna sandwich. A hungry bear comes out of nowhere, but a squirrel intercedes doing a spot on Jimmy Cagney impression and the bear stops snd instead chooses to hit up a nearby campsite with what smells like yummy hot dogs on the grill. Whiff, sniff!! Mmmmm…wait! Wait! They’re Nathan’s!!! This discerning and possibly kosher bear leaves our bologna hiker to his sandwich. A miracle? Yes. But what about the ordinary kinds?
I’ll never win an Olympic gold medal for anything. Sheer laziness keeps me from writing the award winning screen play that could revive Burt Reynold’s career. By the same token, I’ll never get testicular cancer or spontaneously combust during a prostate exam. Or I can be more gender neutral and assume it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever get trapped in a lava flow in Guam while eating a bowl of Fruit Loops.
These are a lovely malange of impossibilities and improbabilities. But if you consider all the unlikely things that COULD happen and there are many, at least one of those more subtle miracles will happen or have happened to regular people. And they won’t be headline grabbers, either. Princess Diana married Prince Charles. Meryl Streep won three Oscars, but five years ago, I turned 55 and quit or walked away from everything and everyone I knew and moved to the Texas Hill Country where I became nieghbors with a yenta who’s shares a nickname with a condiment. Was that my miracle? One of them. Yes, one of them.
When I was in the hospital after the severe car accident I had in 1992, I was constantly told how lucky I was to have survived the wreck. Survived? Only to have been maimed and forced to live in pain every fucking day for the rest of my life???
Some dared to say it was my fate that I lived. It was my destiny that I survived. Really? I think there’s a lot of confusion over those two words. I didn’t walk for months, but if my walking again was a miracle, and ok it might have been, why question it if my ability to walk was never in doubt because walking was also my destiny???. But what if I’d been killed in that truck when it crashed at the bottom of a creek bed off of Interstate 10, more than 25 years ago? Would people have commented on the miracle of my death?? I died and they’d say death was my fate, my destiny, but was it also my miracle? No. But why wouldn’t that have been discussed as such? Must a miracle only have a positive outcome???????
I thought about Alex in Tahoe. Not a lot, but enough to keep the emotional hoarding alive. I continue to hoard so many truths about what our relationship was and wasn’t, it’s like a sad little apartment in Queens. Piles of stuff everywhere you look marked accordingly. Such as “what was”, “what never was” and the tallest of the lot, “what the fuck was I thinking ??” I tell myself it’s healthy to deconstruct. Hell it might be only part way to handle some things.
After he died and I got sick, I felt like a needed a miracle. Something to prove that I could master the most difficult aspects of multi-tasking: moving forward while still looking behind me. So, I watched a bunch of documentaries, read as much as I could about them and to be honest, I have no more of an idea of what a miracle is as I did before. Maybe I need to be the miracle for someone else. Maybe that $100 bill I lost, was found by a woman who could feed her family for a few days. Maybe I need to be that squirrel with the Jimmy Cagney impersonation down pat. Maybe I need to write more, for Burt Reynolds if for no other reason.
I don’t know, kids. I just don’t know.
The one/two punch of this brain thing I have and Alex’s untimely departure have left me feeling emotionally and mentally drained one minute, then rife with thought the next. The short cycling mania is exhausting. I’m so sure of things one minute, then doubting everything the next. I know 2+2=4. I can count so I can prove that to be true. I can use rocks, pieces of candy, tiles in my bathroom. Two pairs of shoes will do the trick. Props always help.
Then, there’s sunshine. I know it exists because even though I can’t hold it in my hands, can feel feel it on my hands. It casts a shadow behind a solid mass and beyond a certain time of day, it goes away. But it comes back and its proof is proven once again. Like it was yesterday. Like it’ll be proven again tomorrow. And before you say it, tomorrow is promised for some people. Maybe next Tuesday isn’t, but tomorrow is.
We haven’t mentioned the God equation yet. Let’s say miracles as we know them happen because of the presence of something or someone. Someone had enough money to pay for a badly needed operation, a rescue occurred because of timing, dumb luck or some kind of weird crack in the space-time continuum allowed whatever natural law to be defied for just that split second. But we have to discuss the other kind miracles. They occurred because of absences. No one was there. Nothing happened. Natural law occurred. But even so, they really were, no less miraculous. If you need to believe God put someone in the right place at the right time, fine. And if you need to think God, didn’t for His reasons, that’s okay, too. But be fair. If you marvel at all it takes to live, you must also marvel at what it takes to die.
But don’t believe me. I have a brain thing. To me, imperfection is constant. Hate is an ugly option. Eggs are an odd menu choice. Carbohydrates are evil. Elastic is love and love is strange and life is stranger. It’s also reasonable and irrational. Brilliant and stupid. Shapeless yet perfectly sculpted. I know 2 + 2 = 4, but sometimes, SOMETIMES it just has to equal 5 to keep it interesting.