As I waited for my fellow employees to finish tasks and clock out, I stood by the back door of our beautiful new bank building chatting with our guard. He was an older man, husband of a lovely woman who worked at our main office and like a grandfather to those of us in our early twenties. It had been a long day for him too and the weight of the gun at his side was wearing. He decided to take it off and place it on a side table nearby. This was a man who knew guns. After serving in the U.S. Army for 30 years, he was well aware of how to safely handle a weapon but, like all of us who are human, he made a mistake – a mistake that in a split second would forever change all of our lives. Instead of removing the entire belt and holster, he removed only the gun and as he reached to place it on the table he fumbled it. You can probably guess what happened next and you would be right.
While the situation was deadly serious, it wasn’t totally without humor. As a young male nurse earnestly scrubbed my chest with antiseptic I smiled sweetly at him and said, “It’s a boob, not a washboard! Do you think you could ease up a bit?” They were still laughing over that one in the ER months later.
Finally, about six hours after I arrived at the hospital, I was deemed stable enough to move to a room on a patient floor. My hardworking angel was still on the job. You see, the bullet had entered my back below my right shoulder, bounced around, cracking some ribs, then ripped through my right lung, exiting just above my right breast. I was so, so lucky. That bullet could have taken much more dangerous paths. My lung should have collapsed but didn’t. Other internal organs could have been damaged but weren’t. March 5, 1976 could have easily been the last day of my life…but it wasn’t. At the young age of twenty-four, I had learned just how precious, and precarious, life is and I had been given a second chance to live it. I vowed that I would make the most of that gift and never take it for granted.
Later that night, as I lay unmoving in a bed in a darkened hospital room, breathless with pain but so grateful to still be here to feel that pain, a nurse came into the room, gently smoothed the hair back from my forehead and said, “Can I get you anything, dear?” “Yes,” I replied with profound relief, “would you please take off these damn pantyhose?!?”
Has life ever given you, or someone close to you, a second chance? How did it change you? Has it made you more daring? More cautious? More giving? More selfish? More appreciative of family and friends? Let’s dish about life’s second chances. Two of you who leave a comment will be randomly chosen to win a book from my prize stash.