I saw the movie Fantastic Beasts not long ago. My favorite quote from the film was “My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.”
I confess I’m bit of a worrywart. If I have something on my mind, I tend to fret and plan and try to eliminate any uncertainty till the event comes up. I’m a mess in the days leading up to a vacation. But the reality is that the things I stress over are seldom the things that actually go wrong. Most of the time I don’t “suffer twice.” I just suffer once needlessly. How much better it would be, instead of fretting over events that never happen, to spend that time savoring life as it happens. But sometimes life is just scary.
Way back when, we were a childless couple with a devoted black lab and a colorful Eastern Rosella parrot we could never tame. He whistled at us and flitted from the top of his cage to the door and back. He seemed content.
I was pregnant with our first child, planning my six-week maternity leave. The first contraction woke me about 5AM. It wasn’t a work day, so I let my husband sleep for a while. I went in the other room and averaged grades and wrote my sub a final note, before the real pain started. By the time my husband got up about six, I was timing contractions and resting. I remember feeling such excitement, relief, and nervousness too, that pregnancy was almost over and I’d finally get to meet my baby.
Around 10AM labor seemed to stop and severe back pain started. With nausea starting too, I went back to bed, fearful that something was wrong. Who knows what my black lab thought was happening, but she stayed close by my side. The bird sat on top of his cage looking down at me.
While my husband called the doctor and I threw up into a trash can, the parrot chose that moment to fly around the room. When he unexpectedly landed on the floor, my retriever chose that moment to pounce. With the phone still in his hand, my husband leaped for the dog.
This moment is frozen in my mind. I see the look in my young husband’s eye as he stood over the dog, who ducked her head with the bird in her mouth. I remember the fear I felt for all of us in that moment.
“Drop it!” he commanded.
But she held onto her prize.
“Drop it!” He smacked her rump.
Finally, she let go. The parrot dropped limply to the floor, before flapping the dog drool off his wings. My husband held the dog by her collar and put the birdcage on the floor. The bird climbed up the side and in, miraculously unscathed.
Seven hours later at the hospital, with my husband at my side and two animals safely separated at home, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and the world returned to joy.
There were so many things to worry about that day and it was just Luck that not one of them came true. Thank goodness.