Friday, December 14, 2012

What's Your Miracle?

When my family gets together for major holidays, everyone brings food and wine and my octogenarian mother brings a theme.  We go around the table and speak to the theme.  This year she asked us to talk about miracles in our lives.  Here's my miracle story:

On November 26, 1989, I fled a relationship and my house and went with my pre-schooler to stay at my mother's until she came back from an overseas trip.  My then husband had an impressive collection of garbage in the yard and shed.  This included pieces of wood, construction scraps, old sinks, creepy mannequins, broken glass, broken toys, broken everything that he called "art supplies."  The night I left, he dragged all these things into the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Holes were punched in every wall, and while being a wall in this house was risky, being a door was suicide. The items of daily life - pots, dishes, towels, books - joined the general diaspora.  He trashed the small two-story  house so badly that after a couple of weeks, he could no longer live there.

Meanwhile, I continued to pay the mortgage, taxes, and utilities.  My daughter was in daycare, and I was pretending to be a normal, if somewhat homeless, college teacher.

My mom and step-father were on their way back at the end of January.  I knew I had to face my house.  I couldn’t afford to not live there.  Even harder, I had to face my life and the terrible decisions that led me into an unsustainable relationship.  There was evidence of violence and instability from the beginning, evidence I chose to ignore.

One of my students from the previous semester had a van, and offered to help me move back.  He brought a couple of friends from the first-year electrical engineering class.

After the move, the guys left.  I put my daughter to bed and tried to prepare classes, but I couldn’t work.  For several hours, I wandered through the house.  What would I do next.  Was moving back the right thing?  How would we get through the rest of the winter in this house?  Would we be safe? 

The ringing phone interrupted my gloom.  It was one of the young men.

"I dropped out of school,” he said.  “I haven't told my parents.  They paid my rent in a small off-campus apartment until the end of April, but I just got a puppy and the landlord won't let me keep it.  Can my puppy and I stay at your house?  I can fix all the walls and doors and clean up the house in exchange for room and board.  I'm pretty handy.  I worked construction the last two summers."

Yes, yes, oh yes!!

Then came his money statement: "And if you're worried about your ex coming around, I have a black belt in karate."

He was 19 years old.  His name was Chris, but back then, I called him the puppy with the puppy.  Here they are 23 years ago.

Bottom Line:  When you take steps to change your life, miraculously, the universe rushes in to help.  What's your miracle?


  1. It always amazes me the story that all of us carry around. Yes, miracles happen every day and some (maybe most?) simply do not recognize them. Of course at the time they are usually obscured by the drama and carnage that surrounds us.

    Thank you for sharing your miracle.

    As for me, life is my miracle. Losing the sight of an eye, albeit not permanent, this past summer was one of my miracles. It has enabled me to see much more clearly and to recognize the endless opportunities we have to "do good" in this world of ours.

  2. I finally had time and space to read your “Miracle Story” blog – it is true miracle, and I like the bottom line – when you make the choice to turn your life around, the universe rushes in to help – miraculously.
    Whatever happened to Chris and his puppy?

    1. One spring day four years later, my doorbell rang. A tall young man, in a suit and tie, was standing outside. He looked familiar, but it took me a moment to see that it was Chris. He said, “I want you to know, the puppy has become a dog.”

      - true. He met someone who helped him turn his life around. The man had told him to say this rhyme:
      "If it's going to be
      It's up to me."

  3. You were also a miracle for Chris at the time he needed some help -- he dropped out of school, couldn't tell his parents, had a new puppy and no where to go -- had taken steps to change his life -- and you were there for him, just as he was for you. And so it goes....