This morning, a dear friend sent a link to this blog post http://earthchicknits.wordpress.com/2007/07/16/the-worst-five-minutes-of-my-life/ and I have sat for a few hours feeling those very uncomfortable feelings that well up when I remember how many times life has nearly been stolen around me. I wonder why the urge to record it and share the story is so strong , at least for a little while, then it wanes off. Is it better to forget and go on living? You know how it feels when you have just finished a book or viewed a movie that affects you in ways that surprise even you. How the colors around you look different. How the possibilities seem different. How each interaction is somehow tied to that story plot.
Near misses are in the natural order of things. I can’t seem to wrap my head around an event as ‘meant to be’. It only takes a person dropping a coin and stopping to pick it up to change the path and avoid being hit by a car. And then, there’s no way to know what event was averted.
Life today really is what you know it to be. If it was to be different, it would be what you see in front of you. I’ve learned to be comfortable with the rule that no one can go back in time and change anything, so it’s useless to pour over dates and interactions in the hope of coming up with a new whatif or coulda or mighta. I think about the differences that might have come to be were it not for a turning point, but really then, I am just grieving for a ghost life that never existed. And that’s like trying to garden without soil.
So, maybe you already know that I was adopted to an American Serviceman and his Japanese wife. Unbeknownst to anyone, so was my brother, born 2 years before me. He was named Yoshimi and he was adopted by nearly the same cutout couple. His adoptive mom and my adoptive mom have the same name. I met them on the Labor Day weekend in 2009. They drove to California from Minnesota. His dad’s first words to me were, “So, you’re the one causing all the trouble.” Yeah, I guess so. We spent the day looking at a few photos and introducing family members that traveled with us. We talked about life growing up in CA and MN on a farm. We laughed in amazement at the idea that the moment I found a tangible clue to my brother’s whereabouts came from an address. I had so little information to go on to find my brothers. This one was almost impossible. His name had been changed from Yoshimi to an All American name. His birthdate was incorrect. His surname was phonetically spelled from Japanese to an indistinguishable jumble of sounds in English. A search angel in GA figured his name would be changed. And she must have known enough to assume his birthdate might be off by a digit or two. She emailed me with an address. It was the address used when his adoptive dad applied for a social security card. It was next door to the house my husband grew up in…..in Aroostick County, Maine. No kidding. His mom would tell me about how she heard that there was another baby born and how she thought it would be nice to raise her son with a sibling, especially if it was a genetic sibling. She went to the house and I was already gone. There I stood smashed between this lovely little Japanese woman, so much like the mom I grew up with. She, hungry for a ghost daughter, me still reeling from my mom’s death a few years before. I couldn’t have missed my mom’s life and death. I was there, really there. I saw it with my own eyes. I fulfilled my duties as daughter and cared for her in her dying time. I bathed her body. I dressed her corpse. I didn’t look away. I can’t go back and be my brother’s sister for all those years and I can’t be her new daughter. It’s hard to look into her eyes and see the wish she had is still there. I think I owe her a least some kind of gesture to thank her for mothering my brother. Neither of us are grieving, life is going on around us and that is interesting enough. Occasionally, there will be a rough memory and the nicest thing is when we agree that if we had been together, it would have been better. Good enough.
The world tried to steal my children from me a few times. There are details in each event that are unforgettable. The smells, the fear, the place, the time. When something happens and you KNOW you just escaped the worst possible scenario (the really can’t have a do over,because someone has died) , suddenly the world around you is different. My oldest was overtaken by a rogue wave at Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey. We were walking on the beach, way far from where the waves were washing up and out of nowhere came a wave and took my 3 yr old son out to sea. Strangers came from out of the dark and dove into the ocean and pulled him out. We thanked them and they went on their way. His younger brother by 14 months was diagnosed with cancer in his teens. We spent 2 and a half years in and out of hopsitals for meds, chemo, transfusions, plasma, scans. I experienced that brief moment of deep fright like every 10 days. I’m not sure what happens to the mind when it has to drag itself away from so many close calls.
I feel like I have had an inordinate number of fatal accidents occur very near me. Once on a highway in Northern Virginia, a bus skidded across the lanes of traffic in front of me, pushing and demolishing the car in front of me. Recently, on a commute locally, I was a few cars behind a fatal head on collision in the intersection.
And life goes on anyway. Colors dull after the brightness fades. I don’t think it’s good to think a whole lot about near misses, but I do think it’s important to see where you have been and realize the near occasion of chance and what it means to your life today.
I don’t think you need near misses to appreciate what you have, though. What I love about reading blogs is that a well written report like the sand incident above gives me the opportunity to have that near miss and let the colors brighten up around me for a bit.