I spent my share of time in the emergency room growing up. Respiratory illness. Ice skating accident. Twice. Finger in bicycle spokes. Concussion from a kick to the head while blocking for Andy DePlato during a neighborhood football game. Internal bleeding in my right eye after after absorbing a baseball with my face during warmups. These are just the ones I remember. I’ve had a good luck streak during adulthood, though. If you don’t count that time in college that I ate a veggie burger at a house party my band was supposed to play. I’m allergic to nuts. When I got to the ER the triage nurse asked me why I ate nuts. Seriously, she asked that.
Lately, I’ve only had to go to the hospital to visit family. Which is worse, I think. That was until last week, Labor Day. My face squared off against a water ski. The water ski prevailed. It didn’t just take my pride, however. It left me with a 2 cm gash below my left eye and several fractures on the same side of my face. I even have a displaced bone. It’s weird feeling a bone where, for the past 37 years, there hasn’t been one. It hurts a lot less than you’d think and it doesn’t look nearly as bad either. If you want to know the details of the accident you’ll have to ask next time you see me.
Looking back on this list it might seem like I’m some kind of magic. Or that something was looking out for me. A few of these incidents were close calls. Ask my mother. I’ve had a couple folks mention to me that I’m blessed to be okay. I’m not sure how I feel about that. That’s a lie, actually. I do know how I feel but I’m not sure I want to share it. I don’t want to seem cynical. I also don’t want to deal with the well-intended questions or book recommendations. (Because there’s always a book you should read, right?)
But I’m not sure how I feel about feeling blessed.
What if the ski had done more than fracture my face? A few inches could have made a considerable difference. What then? Would I have not been blessed? How about any time something tragic happens to somebody? Are they not blessed? Were they blessed up until that point and then the blessing wore off?
I know folks who are dealing with much graver realities than I right now. Some of it is real life or death stuff. Are they blessed because it’s not even worse? Or are they cursed for having to deal with any of it at all? Or is this just the life that we live?
Or maybe we need to reconsider what we mean when we talk about being blessed. Because some things we consider to be blessings become a type of slavery when you’re not looking. And some folks would be hard to consider blessed when you see what they suffer. Maybe we’re all blessed and we just don’t know what the hell we are talking about.
It could have been a lot worse for me. I know that. And I’m grateful that I’m okay. I’m just having a hard time thinking of myself as blessed lately. Especially in light of what’s happening around us. There has to be something that we’re missing. Something that I’m missing. Because the standard notions of what it means to be blessed just don’t seem to hold up to the reality of our world.