They say that cats have nine lives. Through some quirk of nature, I must have some “link” to those lives, for I’ve gone through four already. That’s about as lucky as a person can get, I suppose.
Sure, I’d love to win the lottery, but that requires buying a ticket. I could go to Las Vegas, Nevada and throw money at the slot machines, or go to the horse races at Golden Gate Fields and bet on a long shot, but those things seem unnecessarily wasteful.
I don’t play Bingo, Scrabble, or cards, so you’ll never see me entered in a competition. Pool is not my game either. The only contests I enter are for authors who love to throw good money away on entrance fees.
Some things are worth much more than money. Family, love, satisfaction, shelter, food, friends, and employment rank right in the top ten. Simply having the good fortune to still be walking on this earth is about the luckiest that anyone could possibly be.
It’s equivalent to finding the golden ticket in the chocolate bar, or watching the long-shot horse cross the finish line well ahead of the others. Every morning that I arise is my lucky day. Every evening when I’m able to climb under the covers is another opportunity to count my blessings.
Once you’ve faced Death and emerged victorious, nothing can compare. Four times I’ve walked away, knowing that Death had called my name and I had had the fortitude to stare him in the face and say, “Heck, no.”
About ten years ago a common cold moved in to my lungs. It had the nerve to take up residence, and stubbornly refused to leave. The sniffles turned into a full-blown, fever-induced hallucinogenic excursion into the netherworld. Weakened by its ravaging forces, I was unable to motivate my combat troops to erect a formidable defense.
Night after night I coughed my way through the lonely hours. Food refused to stay down, and fluids ran right through, stopping only long enough to gather random reinforcements along the way. Awareness took a temporary vacation, leaving me in an imbecilic state.
Eventually the battle reached a critical point. As I pretended to sleep, each gasp was like playing a “cat and mouse” game. That’s when something bizarre occurred. I floated. Yes, I literally floated above my reclining body.
Looking down, I knew that I was dead. My chest did not rise and fall. No fluttering of eyelids or twitching of fingers. A coldness drifted upwards as a pallor overcame what I thought of as simply, “my body.”
My husband slept peacefully next to my corpse, unaware that I was no longer there. My heart broke, thinking of the devastation that this would cause him, and I cried, “No!”
I fought to break free from my insubstantial self, screaming silently that my time had not yet come. I closed my eyes and literally willed myself back into my body, one part at a time. Fingers. Toes. Legs. Arms. Chest. Head.
My eyes opened, and I was back. Joy flooded my thoughts, and I knew, then, that I was victorious.
Much later someone told me about out-of-body experiences, and that it was possible for someone to defy death. That was life number one.
Life number two was taken five years ago when a chronic asthma attack landed me in the hospital for eight days. Every breath was a fight. My lungs gurgled, and the feeling was much like that of drowning. The specialists gathered about my bedside throughout the day argued as to what to try next. Nothing worked. I weakened by the hour.
Six days in, I begged my husband to call our children. I wanted to hear their voices one last time before I died. Yes, I said that, for I believed that my end had come.
One by one the calls came. I was so weak that all I was capable of doing was whispering, “I love you.” That night, at peace, I readied myself to die.
When morning came and I was still there, I cried. Another day of fighting for every breath, of coughing so hard that my ribs were sore, did not appeal to me in the least.
When the crew of doctors gathered this time, one of them suggested antibiotics. After the first injection, my fever broke. Within hours air began to fill my lungs, the coughing subsided, and Optimism walked into my room.
Two days later I went home, grateful to be alive.
Within five months I returned to the hospital with another chronic asthma attack. Because the specialists knew what was happening, they began the antibiotics immediately. Once again, I cheated Death.
My fourth life disappeared when the car I was riding in slid off a snow-covered Interstate 80, thirty miles west of Salt Lake City. Normally the road is crowded with huge semis traveling at seventy-five miles an hour. For some bizarre reason, none were near us as the car swerved in and out of lanes.
Time stood still as we drifted to the right, heading for a ditch. The car seemed to float off the road, down the hill, and over the clumps of weeds. When we stopped, we were right side up, perpendicular to the interstate. My daughter, the driver, and my granddaughter, riding in the back seat, were unharmed.
Within minutes rescuers arrived. One was so kind as to drive the car out of the ditch. Shaken, we returned to the highway, knowing that we would exit at the first safe-looking ramp.
On our journey home, we passed two similar accidents. Both vehicles had flipped over as they slid off the road. Both had landed upside down in icy water. Both had fatalities.
So, while I have never won a grand monetary prize, I have won my life four times. For me, that is luck enough for any one person.