Just when I thought I had it together, I walk out of the house in my underwear.
I prefer granny panties, so really, they weren't any more scandalous than the cheek-hugging napkins passing as clothing in today's diva-crazed fashion scene.
Public streaking narrowly avoided, I was free to laugh at myself. Nicker flashing wasn't the first witless performance of the morning. I'd also left my carefully pre-soaked, steel cut (think expensive) oats on high as I was preparing to leave for the farm. Thank heavens they started to smoke before they burst into flame.
In no mood anymore to dash off, I poured a second cup of coffee, and sat down to center myself with the Universe, before I did anything really dumb.
Regrouping is something I do frequently, and with good humor. Many folks become forgetful or absentminded as they age. Not me. I've been like this since birth. Years ago, it used to frustrate me, stirring up anger and low self-confidence.I spent a big chunk of my youth and young adulthood hating my shortcomings and rushing through life trying to find something with which I could find success. It even extended to my love life. I just never felt good enough. I wasn't really a happy person at my core. And then something happened to change all that.
I sideswiped Death and lived to tell about it.
Cheating Death will do something for your self-esteem. After all, Death is the ultimate bottom to hit. There's no bouncing back from that.
Death began to stalk me the day I entered Duke University Medical Center to give birth to my youngest son. Six weeks before, my husband had died suddenly, and aside from our 14 month old son, parents and sister, I was left to bring our second child into the world alone. I settled into a Labor & Delivery room and waited, counting contractions.
Several hours passed with no progression. Then, with no warning, alarms went off and people started running.
The baby had no heartbeat.
Before I knew it, my bed was unhooked from the wall and we were flying down the hallway, sheets flapping and nurses yelling. My father, who is also a doctor, was there, holding my hand and murmuring assurances. The surgeons were waiting with a team in a nearby room where I was offloaded onto a table, a general anesthesia mask immediately strapped to my face. The last thing I heard as I asked God to save this child and let me go to my husband in heaven if it was His will, was "let me know when I can cut."
Not exactly the full make-up, camera-ready birth experience most are hoping for.
My son wasn't much better off. Blue and floppy once freed from he womb, he was transferred to the NICU with an APGAR score of 4, and placed in an oxygen cube.
All this was horrific to live through, but as the old saying goes, Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining.
Part of that silver lining is my youngest child, John. He turns 16 today. A happy, healthy, normal teenager, currently behind a summer school desk, but soon thereafter heading to his job working at a small local Dairy tossing hay bales, driving manure spreaders, and milking cows. He's so big, he has to bend down to kiss me- which, at 16, he doesn't do very often, but that's not the point. He's a fine strapping boy with a strong, bright future.
The other part of the silver lining is the spiritual lobotomy cheating Death gave me. I awoke on that surgical table a different person. It took many months to fully embrace the change, but it was there nonetheless. For the first time in years, I felt unfettered joy, a sense of pride in myself, and complete freedom from petty worries. I was still forgetful, clumsy, and absentminded. My nose too big, my posture poor, my feet too large, and bad at math, But as I healed, and became stronger, all those inconsequential judgements began to fade. They just weren't important.
And still aren't.
Swindling the Grim Reaper is a gift made available to few. Yes, the memories are painful and scary. But I feel like I was allowed to reach out and touch the iridescent film that separates Earth from Heaven, leave my flaws, and perceived imperfections in the celestial drop box, and depart with a healthy son as a door prize.
Admittedly, most people probably don't need a waltz with Death to have confidence in themselves, or be able to take life lightly and with a sense of humor. I may have learned the trick myself, given time. And it doesn't mean I don't have days that are difficult, annoying, frustrating or frightening. But I don't question life's curve balls or oddities any more. I simply dodge, or catch them the best I can and thank God for allowing me one more day here with my family.
Pants or no pants.