God’s Rubber Duckie

I died about 10 years ago. Not for long, but dead enough.

One night, about 3 days after sinus surgery, I began to hemorrhage. About midnight I let go of my efforts to control the bleeding and left my immediate location. As I lay my head down on the floor of my beautiful-brand-new-white-carpeted-bathroom (if this was a movie, angels would sing about the bathroom here) I was relieved to close my eyes and arrive in the presence of God. It’s so quiet there. There’s no pressure. He merely said: Come with me. Or stay. You can choose.

Clearly, I choose to stay and here’s why: My daughters. They were sleeping in the next room and seemed, almost unbearingly, like they might still need me. They were toddlers. This was a clear and easy choice.

Except that it wasn’t. (It’s peaceful with God. It’s not peaceful with toddlers.)

At this point, my husband sensing something wasn’t right, angrily yelled “Karen! Don’t close your eyes!” Eye closing scared him for some reason. Perhaps, because he’d just opened his eyes from passing out. In his defense, it was now a blood bath.

When I opened my eyes, a tiny yellow rubber duck virtually floated by on the “life” that was gushing out of me. Okay, so, that was clear. God can use a rubber duck to help a girl get some perspective.

I. Am. Staying.

The thing is, the whole year prior to this moment – I hadn’t been all that interested in living. I didn’t want to die exactly – I was just done with living. But seeing that duck made everything clear. My children play with that duck and with me. My husband needs his wife. This is my glimpse into what I would miss. “Please let me stay.” To which my husband replied “You’re not going to die.” As I wasn’t able to speak out loud then, this seemed absolutely divine. I was here for awhile.

In the time that follows such tumultuous events, life is profound. Every single moment of it. Every breath you take, every smile from a stranger, every dust bunny in your home, reveals God by your side. The certainty that you are alive for a definite purpose is clear every single second. Unfortunately, this does not last. The profound life fades to a distant memory no matter how hard to try to hang on.

To keep my faith in present tense is a flippin’ struggle. I know I’m alive for a reason – I just think maybe I did the reason already and now…what? My girls are teen-agers and if there is a demographic that does not need mothers – it’s teen-age girls. I know, I know. I’m being sarcastic. I know they need me. They just don’t know it. There’s probably something important looming on the horizon – a stranger to be smiled at, a child to be taught and dust bunnies don’t just go away on their own.

I’m glad I stayed though. It was the right choice. Very grateful for the glimpse.

God, I hope I get another rubber duck, – maybe a less dramatic one though. Life is simpler with a clear sign in front of you.

Once a Rockette

To dance is to live.” Snoopy

I love to dance more than any other person on earth. I danced from the moment I could walk-all the way to Radio City Music Hall. For a moment, I was a Rockette, for all my life, I’ve been a dancer. But, after dancing long enough to wear out most body parts, I got married, had children and moved to the desert.

I never planned to be a wife. Never planned to be a mother. Was absolutely dead set against ever living in a suburb. I was under the misguided impression that I was special. I mean, dancers are…at least…pretty.

I thought I would make a gigantic difference in this world. Or at least be famous. I thought I would always have somewhere exciting to go.

Chandler, Arizona was not the place that first came to mind, but here I am. A wife. A mother. Living in a Chandler, Arizona suburb.

In church today the pastor asked “What are you doing in your life that you could not do without the help of the Lord?” I thought, “Getting up.”

When does who we thought we were coincide with who we are, who we’ve become? When do we let go of the dreams of youth and fully embrace our present? How old will I be when I finally see the dreams God had for me are being fulfilled, and then be at peace with that knowledge? 82? Ever?

My husband wooed me by doing a pirouette in a parking lot on the night I met him. On the inside of my wedding ring is engraved “Always woo.” Although, he doesn’t pirouette or woo anymore, he does work endless hours in a job he loves and comes home to his family every night. He does love me-almost as much as he loves being married to someone who was once a Rockette.

I made an important decision to leave the comfort of my home town and become a dancer in New York City, to marry my husband, to become a mother. If I hadn’t first made the decision to follow the intense tugging in my soul to dance – I would be a terrible wife and mother and possibly more discontent in the life I now lead. If I had never taken a chance I would never have known…anything. I know very little, but I know I’m lucky or blessed to have heard the music and danced. To have lived a dream. To have searched beyond the dream with someone who loves me no matter who I am or who I will become.