Before you read this, please know that I know that people have gone through horrible things in their lives. They have been sick, they have lost loved ones, they have suffered. I know all of these things.
For the past 4 + years, I have been writing a humor column; for three months, I’ve been writing it for this paper. This will be the first non-humorous but reflective column I’ve written. Because life isn’t always funny.
We use humor to deflect the sadness and the pain. I know that I do. Heck, my column has been a source of therapy for me, and I certainly hope that by making others laugh, it has been helpful for them as well. (Unless, of course, you do not think that I am funny. Then feel free to disregard everything that I have said. And, I apologize for not making you laugh.)
Life is filled with what ifs. On the lighter side, you have the “What if I didn’t eat that plate of spaghetti?” Chances are, you probably would feel lighter. “What if I didn’t break up with that guy?” Hmm, maybe you would be living in a bigger house? A smaller one? You would have more kids? Fewer kids? Who knows? “What if I went to a different college?” I would have a better job? No job? I would be homeless? Not a clue. We have all of these detours that we choose to take, roads untaken. It’s just like the famous poem, where the roads diverge in the woods and you choose to take the path less traveled. Has it made all the difference? You will never know, because you didn’t take the other road. What happens on that other road? Better vacations? Time in jail? You just can’t think about it, because there is nothing you can do about it now.
When a study came out a couple of weeks ago saying that diet soda was a contributing factor to Alzheimers, my mother insisted that we all stop drinking diet soda. I still drink my beloved Tab, because I feel that the damage has been done already. When they do my autopsy, they will find actual packets of Splenda in my veins. That is just the way it is. There are people who smoke their whole lives and live well into their 80s and 90s and then there are people who look like they are in perfect shape and drop dead while exercising in their 50s. Not in our control. Because, really, very few things are in our control.
Which brings us to today.
It could be the day that I am writing this, or any day at all, this just happened to have happened today. Some of you maybe were driving on Route 4 by the Teaneck Road exit, and maybe you noticed an accident. An older model Buick was totaled. There were no other cars involved, but when you saw this car, you thought, “Oh God, I hope that everyone is ok. That looks really bad.”
And it did look bad. It looked so bad that when I saw it, I almost threw up on the side of the road. My boy had been in that car. That car was Clunky. And though Clunky is no longer with us, son #1 is. Thank God. It is a miracle. It is an “I don’t even want to think about the what if,” because that “what if” takes me to a really dark place. Husband #1 showed up at the scene because son #1 couldn’t find his phone in the mess that was Clunky, and some nice woman waiting for the jitney called 911 and let son #1 use her phone. And then husband #1 called me.
When I got there, son #1 was in the back of an ambulance with blood all over his face and his shirt, because the air bag deployed and smacked him in the face. What if there was no air bag? Don’t even want to go there. This was a miracle on so many levels. How were no other cars involved? How did the car look like that and he was ok? What if? I don’t even want to know.
But when the shock wore off, and the tears dried, the humor could start again. Poor Clunky, he survived the drive from Florida, but he couldn’t make it to Teaneck Hot Bagels on a steamy Monday morning. How will son #3 get to school next year? How will son #1 get to work for the rest of the summer? What if? Who cares….
Someone was in control today, and I am grateful for that.
Banji Ganchrow is pleased to report that husband #1 did like his Father’s Day present. You can find him sitting on it every Shabbos afternoon in his backyard. (It’s a lounge chair…just to be clear.)