The Three Worst Fears
About three decades ago, I had a discussion with my seventh grade friend Jane about the three worst things that could happen in our lives. I don’t recall what her’s were, but I remember mine. My first was the inability to have kids. As a flourishing Mormon, taught to “go forth and replenish the earth,” this was my number one goal. I wanted to have ten babies, as did the other girls in my class. Unfortunately, I found out early on in my life, according to three medical professionals, I would never carry full term. I had my first baby at age 36 and my second at age 40. The doctors were a bit delayed, but obviously wrong.
Second, despite the romantic movies on television about maidens in distress forgetting who they are before a handsome man jars her memory and they dash off to live happily ever after, I was petrified at the thought. But because of a family practitioner’s focus on experimenting with Prozac for the sake of a kickback, she convinced me I was depressed. The drug had an unfortunate side effects of retrograde and anterograde amnesia that literally took years to rebuild my mind into the powerful fortress it is today. The doctor who had prescribed the medication denied any responsibility and my faith in doctors dwindled to near obsolete.
Third, while still pregnant with my daughter, engaged to her father, a truck ran a red light and slammed me from the side, spinning the car to a stop. Panicked because the 7-month-old baby had ceased moving, I was relieved three hours later when the doctor (hmm-hm) announced she was fine. I was relieved. Afterwards, her head was a bit crooked and she craned her neck back like an eating baby bird each time she went to sleep. A chiropractor scared the hell out of me by grabbing her newborn head between his hands and popping her head on straight. No problems since. Oh, the reason I was at the chiropractor’s was because my back had two herniated and a ruptured disk. Took nearly a decade to heal because the funds won in court weren’t even enough for one of the three surgeries required to put me back together again. We lived off my savings, the settlement, and the 401k for three years, waiting for my back to heal. Since it took nearly ten, my third fear came to light. We were homeless.
But I’m a strong believer that all bad things must come to an end. After all, everyone dies. I’m kidding, sort of. This whole negative circumstance has come full around. Being poor like we are, we’ve come to appreciate each other, which is more than most families can say. My back has finally created enough scar tissue I no longer require a cane, and I no longer wet my pants in an effort to make it to the restroom. I’m fairly ecstatic about this as I had a deep seeded fear it was permanent. Sometimes it feels great to be wrong.
I received my BFA in creative writing on my 49th birthday, which is quite awesome. I got it before I was 50, after struggling several times in my efforts while rebuilding my brain and my personality, all the while sorting out the ones who cared from the ones who couldn’t. I have a new and healthier view on life. See, when you go without all the luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to, and even fond memories, you begin appreciate the tiny things that mean so much more. If you don’t believe me, watch the Tom Hank’s movie Castaway and you’ll see what I mean.
We’re poor now, as I search for suitable employment that will challenge me more than paying back the $1,200/month in student debt and giving us enough to eat more than spoonfuls of flour with a dash of salt. What we’ve all come to comprehend is how important every moment with each other is, every tooth that falls out while eating dumplings, every laugh that causes milk to shoot out our noses, and each time we finish playing a board game together. We have so much more than other people. We have memories we create together, and they aren’t the latest and greatest computer games, or even name brand jackets with matching hats. We’ve come to appreciate each and every memory coming our way.
Have a great holiday season this year and when you hug that special someone, hug them as tight as if you may never see them again. One day it will be true, unlike the three most horrible things that can happen to you. Unless the worst thing is the one aunt with the hairy mole that scratches your face, and her pickled breath makes your hair stand on end. That would definitely be much worse. Seriously, give your special person a hug.
Oh yeah, one last thing. Remember I told you about my seventh grade friend Jane? She wound up being one of the first female judges in the state of Utah. I should ask her what her fears were again. I wonder if she would remember them, or if she’d even pause to talk to someone like me.