luck


luck n. success or failure apparently brought by chance

I have to confess that I chose this word on purpose because I really wanted to write about it. Over the years my husband and I have created a comfortable life for ourselves. We have a nice home, a happy baby boy and a great dog. We sit by the fire and drink wine. We have dear friends, plenty of good, healthy food, and have travelled well. We are grateful and feel blessed. However, if you say we are “lucky” I might have to punch you.

The word lucky inevitably comes up to describe my life after some piteous story about someone else’s hardship. I am forced to recall the adage “never judge a book by it’s cover” when I hear the word lucky to describe my life. I wish I could start spouting off the stories of my hardships – my brothers cancer, my father’s death from a brain tumor, how I worked in a factory out of high school because I couldn’t afford college, my first job as an accountant that I took so I could pay the rent…etc. etc. If one were to stack up all of the hardship and troubles I have had in my life, the pile would be equal to or higher than my good fortune pile. Good things come to those who work, and sometimes they don’t come at all even if you’re working really hard. Sometimes you have to keep working toward the light at the end of the tunnel however small that light may be.

I would prefer to say that we are blessed for having some of the good things in our life. We were blessed to give birth to a healthy baby, but it has taken skill and hard work to keep him healthy and growing well. I have definitely made sacrifices for it. Yes, we have a nice house in the suburbs – but you should have seen some of the shit holes (pardon my language) we have lived in – including a fourth floor attic apartment that was slanted and a duplex that had no subfloor that Stella (our dog) would pee through to the basement because she was scared of living in Brooklyn. We’ve had brand new cars that have been keyed and tires slashed. There have been firings from jobs, death and lots of debt. I have cried for whole days until my eyes were swollen shut…and I know my future has its fair share of pain and hardship waiting for me when I least expect it.

You can say I am lucky for one day or one hour, but not to describe my entire life. I am not entitled to what I have and I know it can go away tomorrow. I know what it means to have nothing at all and to have to start over from the beginning. Yet therein lies the beauty of a well worn life – there is always a beginning. When you’ve seen the bottom and looked up to the top the last thing you count on getting you there is luck.

Mother to Son 

By Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

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