Dear Lily June,
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, my dear, a day associated in America (where we’ve co-opted it from the Irish) with three actions: wearing green, drinking yourself into the golden oblivion at the end of sobriety’s rainbow, and celebrating sudden, unexpected, undeserved good fortune like it were as simple to find as a Spring clover poking its quadracephalic glory up out of the dirt.
I don’t know exactly how the expression “the luck of the Irish” came about. I only know that, in my experience, it tends to play out ironically, with every Irish lover I’ve ever taken–your father included–ending up being lashed to Fortune’s wheel and spun around cruelly until their dizzy fate was vomited back up into their laps.
I’ve been a passenger with your dad, for instance, in two cars that crumpled–one that was backed into a pole in the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly and the other that was t-boned when the sunset blinded him to a red light. I’ve held your father as he wept over family members lost, and I’ve laughed bitterly alongside him when he spent one Independence Day trapped in a hospital bed being treated for a complication from degenerative arthritis in his back by a physician named, I kid you not, Dr. Pepper.
This year, Fate saw fit before the grand day of luck to strain a ligament in my wrist as I lifted you up. I heard a pop like the cork of a champagne bottle rocketing off and felt a rush of pain to my wrist like you might feel a flurry of intoxication post-drinking that champagne rush to your head. Only each tingling bubble that popped inside me was actually another wrenching twinge.
I’m splinted now and awaiting the relatively minor (read as “obnoxiously painful but largely unsympathetic”) injury to heal with the panacea of time while I ignore doctor’s orders and continue to type 100+ words a minute as part of my job. In the meantime, feeling hang-dog about my crappy luck, I went on a walk during my lunch break and tried to remind myself that I’ve already pocketed life’s golden ticket in so many ways, not the least of which was in having you.
Remember, Lily, that we were given the prediction that we’d only have a 5% chance of your making it through my pregnancy. Yet here you are, you lucky duck, stuck with your whiny mother who loves you. The fact that I have working legs to take the walk I did to think about that turn of events? That’s luck. The fact that I don’t have environmental allergies that prohibit me from looking over Spring’s handiwork–bursting buds and burgeoning bright green baby grass–is Luck. That we got our first big bonus from tax time that’s just enough to scrape by as the bare minimum down payment at the exact moment we started our house hunt? Luck.
Because my wrist aches and your dad’s back continually stabs, it would be easy for us to fall into being sad sacks. But then, we watched an episode of Louie last night together with a doctor who was overly apathetic to Louie’s own pain in the back, which got me thinking.
The doctor essentially claimed it was a lack of evolution that would cause almost all adult backs to ache, and when Louie asked, then, what he should do about it, the doctor gave this reply:
“Use your back as it was intended. Walk around on your hands and feet. Or accept the fact that your back is going to hurt sometimes. Be very grateful for the moments that it doesn’t. Every second spent without back pain is a lucky second. String enough of those lucky seconds together, you have a lucky minute.”
Lily June, I have spent most of my life guilty of ruminating on every unlucky second I’ve ever spent when the truth is, I’ve had my fair share of lucky minutes, too. Once you hit adulthood, it’s guaranteed that something in you will hurt, even if that something is just the memory of your childhood. I would consider myself as having struck gold if that’s not the injury you hold in your heart. I would imagine I’m enjoying miraculous serendipity if I find, each day, your father is still the one I wake up next to (literally and figuratively).
And I would count my lucky stars if I could think of a single sentence to win this writing contest that I wanted to serve as the inspiration for this post. Unfortunately, I could, in no way, craft something better than what this post started with, which would be a lousy entry in my humble opinion. Back to the drawing board, dear Lily, my lovable leprechaun. Wish me you-know-what.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you a little gold in this post’s pot. Leo Buscaglia wrote the following quotation which I love (and he was lucky enough to die before he found his words continuously though erroneously attributed on the internet to Buddha):
“Let’s rise and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we may have learned a little. And if we didn’t learn even a little, at least we didn’t get sick. And if we did get sick, at least we didn’t die. So let us all be thankful.”