Luck. I spend a lot of time thinking about luck.
If I had to assess my life, I would have to consider myself a lucky person. As much as I would like to win the lottery, hit it big on Keno, or win the World Series of Poker, I do not think huge financial gain determines how lucky I am. (Although, I will keep trying to let Lady Luck bring me prosperity!) Luck, to me, is more about when life seems to take a turn for the worse, someone seems to appear to help give me the confidence to persevere. Luck is about figuring out which moments to seize, which moments to cherish, which moments are the ones that lead to the undeniably positive next.
When I was a teenager, I remember sitting on the picnic table at my parent’s cottage looking out at the lake. It was summer and I had had an undeniably perfect day enjoying my youthful fit body waterskiing and frolicking in the sun. However, as the day came to a close, I was feeling maudlin. I was about to enter my senior year of high school and all of my friends had boyfriends. Everyone had a boyfriend, except me. I was odd man out, and I was feeling sorry for myself. My friends were with their respective “others,” and I was hanging out with my parents and brother. I was filled with the typical teenage angst: What’s wrong with me? Why don’t boys like me? Why don’t they think I am pretty?
The lake looked so calm and peaceful. The setting sun streaked the water with an orange-ish hue. It was a Colin Prior photograph, perfectly balanced and serene. Yet, I felt out of balance and insecure. I sat crying silently.
My dad was suddenly standing next to me. I thought he was inside watching a movie with my mom. I thought I was alone.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” His voice was fervidly concerned. My father was a quiet man, but he cared for me deeply, and although he yelled at me for wearing my heart on my sleeve, when I was alone and sad, he commiserated and wanted to ease my pain.
I wiped my face, blinked hard, and I tried to deny feeling anything. He did not believe me and pressed the topic. So much went on within my family during those years that I always felt that my dad was worried I internalized too much of my personal pain, always trying to be strong for the family. Finally, I let go. I wanted him to know it had nothing to do with him or my mom. It was just me being self-indulgent.
“I don’t know why boys don’t like me. I don’t think I will ever find my husband.” I looked at my father; he looked blurry because of the tears, kind of like the window of the car right before the windshield washer clears off the rain.
I remember his reaction distinctly.
He opened his mouth and laughed out loud. His eyes squinted, he laughed so hard. Tears were streaming down my face and my father was laughing.
He sat down next to me on the table top and put his arm around my shoulder. “Honey, your soul mate is out there. I don’t know when you will find him, but you will. ” He grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him. Tears were still streaming down my face at a pretty consistent pace. “Do you hear me. He is out there somewhere waiting for you. And you know what?” His hand wiped a tear. I shook my head. “He will be the luckiest man alive to have you.”
I was calmed by the sheer confidence with which he spoke. He was my father, and my father did not lie to me. If he was that assured, that sanguine in his beliefs, than I too, had to be optimistic.
My father gave my a dream that day, a dream that I cherished and thought about for years to come. He also gave me a piece of himself.
It took years for Tom and I to meet. I know we were in the same location on a few different occasions during my semester at OU, but the timing wasn’t right. Fate did not put us together. At 26, when our paths crossed again, I knew within two hours that Tom was the one. Was it luck that I found him when I did? Maybe– or maybe it was a moment seized, a moment cherished, a moment that has led undeniably to all of the positive nexts.