“Accidents happen,” everyone says, but that saying has a slightly different meaning when you are the accident.
There are many people on this planet who have come into the world by the sheer force of genetic will. A random sperm and a ready-to-drop egg timed with a act of love or lust or stupidity (or all of the above) has produced many of us. For every woman out there who struggles with trying to conceive there are many others who wake up one morning, feel a bit queesy, and are like, “Oh, shit…Now what?”
And thus begins a new life.
I was born in 1974, one year after Roe versus Wade was passed.
I was born to an 18 year old girl who had just graduated from high school and who was on her way to college. She was a good girl who went through a bad girl phase in the fall of her senior year, hooked up with a high school dropout who looked like he should be in Fleetwood Mac, had sex one time (the first time) and BAM!
That BAM! was me.
My mom who adopted and raised me is a rabid pro-lifer. For as long as I can remember she told me that I could have been aborted. In her “God has a plan for you” mantra about everything, she neglected to realize that talking about my life as if it could have been erased as easily as written was a bit insensitive. Regardless, this became of narrative of who I am.
Maybe it’s because of my accidental start and this running narrative of potentially not being, but I have always been acutely aware that every day, month, year of my life was the result of many choices made by an 18 year old girl. From the moment I was conceived, this life of mine was an accident. Not intended. I should not be here, but I am because of her.
As I get older, I see that this same story of accidents, intentions, and choices applies to all of us. Accidents result in the adding or taking away of life. Unintentional illnesses have caused my friends and family and their kids to get sick, survive, or die. Choices begin and end so many elements of our daily existence. What a slippery grip we all have on this experience, and we all hold on to each day as tightly as possible.
Today, as I turn 40, I think of my four decades of life:
the belly-aching laughs,
my most wonderful and supportive friends,
my crazy dysfunctional family that raised me,
my still new-ish but oh-so grounding biological mom and sister,
the heartaches that still ache,
the love so deep it feels it could swallow you whole,
the unbearable yet bearable losses,
the many small and large celebrations of anything,
the travels that give me new eyes,
my hundreds of students who teach me,
my chest-cavity aching deep appreciation for humanity,
the immense joy of the quotidian–
and I am just so, so thankful to the accident, the intention, and the choices that brought me all the way to this point.