I woke up on Monday morning, and before I got out of bed, I lay there thinking of all the things on my to- do list. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the only thing I had scheduled was an appointment later in the afternoon.
I had made a conscious decision years ago to think of Monday mornings as wiping my slate clean. A new beginning to get it right this time. And why not? Golfers get a “do-over” and call it a mulligan. Baseball players get three strikes before they are out and tennis players get two serves before their opponents get a point. And for any of you reading this that don’t think you’re in a game… sorry for being the bearer of bad news, but you already are. The name of the game is called Life, and you’re in it whether you like it or not.
Don’t you think I’d have gotten the hang of it, especially after all the Monday Mornings I had in my lifetime? Oh how I wish I had a Mulligan so I could regain all those wasted tears and years figuring it out.
When I was young my grandmother used to say “no news is good news.” I had no idea what she was talking about. Allow me to explain the problem. It’s all about perspective. When you are young, you live in a world that’s restless, looking for excitement and adventure. By the time you get married and have children of your own, there are times when your life resembles a horror show. If this is the stage you are in right now, don’t worry; this too shall pass.And if you’re lucky enough to reach the ripe old age and honor of becoming a senior citizen, routine is very comforting. I now understand the wisdom of those words.
So that Monday morning appeared to be an ordinary day (my favorite kind) that ended up being extraordinary. I had an appointment later in the afternoon and after I arrived, I checked in and was told to take a seat in the waiting room. I had my choice of seats: only one younger girl was seated waiting. Her wavy, blonde hair framed her blue eyes, and even though she was seated, I said good afternoon when I walked by her to take my seat. She returned this greeting with a warm, welcoming smile. Her crystal clear blue eyes sparkled when she turned to face me. I am a big fan of looking people directly in the eyes whenever I am speaking to them. I believe eyes are the windows to the soul.
It was very obvious I was not invading her space and she’d love to talk. Now that’s my swim lane. I’ve never met a stranger, only new friends I have not made yet! I just knew within minutes of speaking with her, if we had met under different circumstances, we would have become good friends. Our friendly banter was wrapped in laughter. Out of nowhere, she told me she had been in a very bad fire when she was five years old. 80% of her body had been burned, and she had spent years in a children’s hospital has a multitude of painful (my words, not hers) surgery to graft skin to the areas on her body that had been burned. She had no visible signs on her face, neck, or hands leaving the telltale signs of the trauma she had endured. I don’t know what shocked me more: what she said or the way she said it. Her words were palatable. I will save you all the gory details, but it suffices to say this story was not for the faint of heart. I had a feeling she was talking about somebody else. Her body language, smile, and cheerful intonations rendered me speechless. Most of us at one point or another have dealt with a burned finger on a hot stove. It’s extremely painful. Can you imagine if it was 80% of your body? Now add to this you were a five-year-old child? I sat there mesmerized, hanging on every word. I was so invested in what she was saying that the rest of the world disappeared. I bet I looked just like my grandchildren with my jaw wide open when I read them a fairy tale. The way she spoke about the nurses and doctors was nothing short of the way most of us talk about our mother and father. Her final sentence reiterated my personal motto in life. –
Every experience good or bad is a gift: finding that gift is up to you. She told me how lucky she knew she had been when she met so many of the other children over the years whose faces had been so badly burned. The scars left on their faces in the wake of this trauma were visual to the whole world. When she was late in the teenage years, she made the decision not to have any more surgeries. Her reason humbled me. She decided the scars left on her body were telltale signs of what had happened to her. They were a reminder every time she saw them of how lucky she had been. Any further surgeries would be strictly for cosmetic reasons, and she knew she never wanted to forget what had happened. She wore those scars as a badge of honor. They were what made her who she was. Wow! Isn’t that amazing?
Here’s my take on this. She had every reason in the entire world to be a victim of what had happened to her. Remember she made this decision as a 17-year-old girl. I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that I was a little narcissistic, especially about the way I looked as a young teenage girl. And most of us, if not all of us, wouldn’t have blamed her. But she decided she was never going to be a victim to any experience that might happen to her in life. Sound familiar? Yes, to me too. We were kindred spirits! We could’ve been twins except for the fact that she was young, blond, tall and thin. I’m short, have dark hair and food has not been my friend.
Actually, now that I think about it, when it comes to food I would describe our relationship as Frenemy! Life is 10% circumstances, 90% your attitude. She was a warrior in her life. And the price she paid to learn the lesson was not cheap, but would serve her well no matter what life had in store for her. I can take this concept one step further. I’m sure you have heard the expression by now “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and this young lady was a strong as they come.