I almost didn't live past the age of four.
One sunny day I was coloring pictures at the kitchen table with my twin sister. I am not sure if I had learned to stay in the lines yet, but I am sure of what happened next. The lollipop popped right off the stick and lodged itself squarely in my throat.
Somehow I got to the living room where my mother was. She was a registered nurse who was highly overworked and severely underpaid. Her job was to keep five children alive in the midst of hayloft stunts and large rusty equipment with jagged blades and tall silos and a mean guard dog. And yes, choking on a lollipop that a nice neighbor gave to small children not knowing how dangerous it could be.
My think-quick-under-life-threatening-pressure mom began with an array of trusted techniques to attempt to dislodge the foreign object from me. Each failed to the point where I was turning blue. My older siblings ran out to the barn yelling 'Abby's dying!!'
But I didn't die.
Yet, I wonder, as I write this at 40 years old, if I have lived much more in these years since in the fear of the possibility of dying, rather than in the truth of living.
Defying the odds began for both my twin sister and I before we were born. The hope of life held fragile in the clasped hands of a praying mother who had suffered three miscarriages. My father and she sat in a doctor's office with the sharp opinion-shared-as-fact that it was now unlikely she could carry another child full-term. God smiled upon that scene with a very different story in mind.
It was short months later my mother found herself pregnant. At six months in-utero she would find out we were twins. And three months later we came into the world entirely healthy and weighing 14 pounds together.
And I wonder again, do I really believe I can add a single hour to my life by worrying about keeping it close and safe?
When I was blue on that day in 1978, my mother remembered. She had read in a nursing journal about a new method to expel lodged objects from the windpipe called the Heimlich Manuever. So with arms wrapped around me she pressed tight into my little body.
Fragile hope. Fierce mother love. And the kindness of a nursing journal at the right time. The miracle that a mother of five and a farm wife found time to read.
All pieces of a puzzle that shape one place on a 40 year-old woman's life mosaic.
Its hue somehow reflects that other one when my car missed a tractor trailer and multiple lanes of I-95 traffic as it did a 180 degree turn outside of Boston. Somehow? I landed on the shoulder of that highway strip. A few feet of safety between a 75mph multi-tiered head-on onslaught and a steep bank where my car would surely have rolled. The off-duty police officer who followed me to the side of the road marveled at how my car remained unscathed, and all the others for that matter, as he watched the scene from behind.
From these mirroring pieces irradescent light spreads over tiles of miles in tens of thousands over oceans and through blizzards.
I am here. Alive. Today. By an All-loving hand who numbers my days, writes them in a book, even as he remembers how many hairs I lost in my brush this morning.
There's an intimacy that I cannot escape.
It compels me into life in all of its frailty. It calls for the surrender of control over three little ones and my husband. It speaks of gifts that I do not deserve. And challenges with the eternal purposes of a life that yet breathes. It beckons me further to an all-of-life why? that compels me toward an all-of-life answer.
I am here. Not by chance nor circumstance. Not even by the action of a remarkable mother. But to live well the story of my one little life with each of its days written to somehow reveal...Glory.
Sharing with Kelli @ Unforced Rhythms, Jen & SoliDeoGloriaSisterhood.com , Playdates with God @ www.lauraboggess.com &; #TellHisStory @ www.jenniferdukeslee.com