Don’t Give Up On Me Now

I get upset, maybe irrationally so, when things break – which they do at an alarming pace in our house.  It’s difficult to pinpoint which machine failure causes the most angst for me.  I was equally annoyed when the toilet handle broke as when the refrigerator committed premature suicide.  So I wouldn’t claim that the impending death of my car was more dramatic than any other loss, until it threatened to take me, and my daughter, with it.

At eighteen years old, failed breaks in my beloved first car were a great story.  With no proverbial ‘life’ to flash before my eyes, it was just a bit of excitement in the day.   Not so at 43.

I knew something was amiss; three different warning lights on the dashboard told me as much.  What they failed to indicate is when the car would fail and how badly.

In typical triage-style parenting, husband and I deemed a trip to the mechanic a low priority, pushing it out a week while secretly hoping the warning lights would disappear.  You know, the old ‘if I ignore it, it will go away’ trick.  But our over-used SUV wasn’t willing to accommodate our busy schedule and decided to self-destruct mid-week while I – not my risk-taking/thrill-seeking husband – was driving our nine year old to dance class.

Shortly after calling husband to report increasingly squishy brakes and the possibility of visiting the mechanic sooner rather than later, I went careening through a stop sign, avoiding a crash by sheer luck.  Not wanting to panic Peach, I restrained my reaction, opting instead to unleash my fury on husband when I arrived home.  Thankfully, he is a seasoned husband who wasn’t hurt by my insinuation that this was somehow his fault.  (He’s a big fan of the rhetorical question: If a tree falls in the woods and the husband is nowhere near it, is it still his fault?)   Of course it is!

I awoke the next morning with virtual whiplash from my virtual accident.  Ah, the power of stress.  In retrospect, I should have had the car towed to the shop.  But I opted to drive it, sans passengers, tempting fate once more and nearly killing myself and the car in the process.  (I’m pretty sure the mechanic would wag a finger at me for driving my automatic transmission like a stick shift in lieu of brakes to slow down.)

Regular readers may notice a trend.   I prefer barreling through life at full speed, trying to squeeze 30 hours into every 24-hour day, foregoing common sense and self-care.  (You might recall me ignoring a warning last year that my online calendar was going to explode from all the conflicts.)  I recognize this self-destructive pattern, and yet I persist.

I envision a guardian angel assigned to me at birth, rolling its eyes and grumbling about a future of futile attempts at keeping me safe from myself.  In my dream, he is chasing after me, barely able to keep up until, at last, I pause just shy of running into traffic like an oblivious toddler.  The sight of my breathless angel fuels the game of cat and mouse and I take off once again, confident he will follow.

Last night my dream took on a more serious note in one of those vivid, sweat-inducing dreams that stays with you long after waking.  I was driving distractedly when the road spontaneously disappeared.  My car launched into the air and landed in a river.  After escaping the car, I had an emotionless thought that the car could be replaced, but I was hysterical about the loss of my smart phone – my second brain that contains all my contacts and appointments.

I woke with the feeling that perhaps it’s time to turn over a new leaf.  No more ignoring of warning signals that are trying to protect me.  No more getting irritated at policemen that pull me over for speeding.  I will ‘hear God on the whisper’ so He doesn’t have to yell.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll slow my life down enough so my guardian angel can catch a break.

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