Yesterday my eldest son, Levi, got electrocuted at
“Fry’s” Electronics. The irony of that is not wasted on me. It was truly a horrifying event. We sat down in these massage chairs and when they weren’t working, Levi went to check and see if they were plugged in. When he picked up the cord it exploded into flames, knocked him back about three feet and singed his hand badly. It was terrifying. He then became completely hysterical and I tried to comfort him while also barking out orders to nearby nitwit employees who just stood there staring at me.
He is fine, albeit a bit fearful of anything electronic. But the fact remains that this could have been a grave, irreparable tragedy. That’s the part I can’t get beyond. I’m haunted by the “what ifs.” What if the current had been stronger? What if the explosion had caught fire and spread. What if something truly terrible had happened to my son?
It’s funny. When bad things happen, I almost always realize how lucky I am. It’s that Jewish “imagine the worst” thing that guides my thoughts towards the worst possible scenario. Then I’m deeply grateful for whatever minor event has befallen me. But I can’t forget how quickly life can turn — forever. It can leave you shattered, alone, sick, lost, afraid; for no other reason than random chance, and there’s simply nothing you can do to control it.
I stood right next to my son as he innocently picked up a cord, an ordinary event that had an unexpected, extraordinary outcome. A friend of mine told me how her toddler daughter had fallen and broken her arm, twice, as she walked helplessly alongside. I remember countless times when minor accidents occurred under my watch and only through luck and good fortune amounted to only a few cuts and bruises.
It’s all very frightening. I want this realization to make me live more fully, embrace every moment, appreciate all that I have. Instead it makes me want to slip under the covers, barricade my front door, and turn out all the lights in the house like my lame neighbors on Halloween night. I want to keep my family safe, my boys alive and unscathed by life’s darts and daggers.
Today my car was broken into. The window was shattered and an expensive item was stolen. My first reaction? Relief. Thank God no one was in the car. Thank God my husband and kids were safe. Thank God no one was hurt. But maybe I’m too passive. Maybe I ought to be more proactive, see potential bad things around the corners before they appear. Maybe my “thank god it wasn’t worse” attitude is really just a manifestation of fear, helplessness and the reality of how truly ineffective I am in life.
Help, I think I’ve fallen into a philosophical minefield and I can’t get up.