The Gift of Luck

Valerie - Hockessin, Delaware
Entered on February 21, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in luck, the kind that takes your breath away and makes your heart skip and keep on beating.

My trust in luck began with a stunning headache on a brilliant January morning in 2005.

Realizing that something horrible was happening, I called my husband on his cell phone which he never has with him or, if he does, isn’t on or the battery’s dead. But on this day, he answered it on the first ring.

That’s luck.

(Something’s really wrong,) I whispered. (I’m scared.)

Paramedics found me unconscious a few minutes later.

The aneurysm that burst like a balloon near my brain stem couldn’t be reached by conventional neurosurgery, but a nearby hospital had recently begun performing a new form of repair that might.

More luck.

As I lay on a gurney, with a ventilator in my throat and a hole in my head to relieve the pressure in my skull, I heard doctors talk about how slim the chances were I’d live.

I thought to myself (So this is how you die.) I wasn’t sad and I wasn’t scared. I hurt and I hated the tube in my throat, but all I could do was lie on the gurney and wait to see if I was going to die.

For the first time I could recall, there were no expectations of me. I couldn’t fix what was wrong. I couldn’t expel the blood that had flooded both sides of my brain.

And I felt lucky. Lucky that I had lived an interesting life, lucky that I’d married the right person, lucky that my children were healthy and happy and good natured, lucky that my aging parents remained healthy and strong enough to drive through the next days and night to reach my bedside. I felt lucky that my relationships with my sisters, once strained and distant, had been repaired in the last year.

After months in the hospital, I was lucky enough to come home to my family, my dogs and my life. Two days later, the university where doctors saved my life called to tell my daughter she had been accepted to their medical school. She’s lucky too.

But I don’t know why. I don’t know why I get all this luck and other people don’t. People tell me I should write about what happened to me and I tell them I will when I understand what it means.

What I need to know is why someone like me gets to live this charmed life while others do not. All those people I met in the hospital, the ones who don’t know where they are or how to feed themselves and the ones who scream obscenities through the night, why did I emerge unscathed while they did not? What does luck have to do with it and why do I have so much? How do I share it and how to I hang on to it? Will it end as suddenly as my head exploded that sunny winter day?

I believe in luck but I don’t understand it. I believe it was given to me and that I’m responsible for deserving it and making something of the gift.

I just don’t know what that is and I’m afraid I’ll waste it.

Which I believe would be a very unlucky thing to do.