In addition to walking to and from the store several times, I have been taking walks with my fellow MTM Walkers for Knockers teammate and neighbor, Debbie.
Yesterday we went for a walk just before dinner. Since our walk would coincide with what Charlie and I have dubbed "Witching Hour" at our house, I thought it might make things easier for my husband if I took a few of the children with me. And seeing as Henry and Elizabeth were causing the most trouble at that very moment in time, I loaded the two of them in to our beloved double BOB stroller and we set off.
For the next hour, all was calm. The children slept, Debbie and I got in a rigorous walk, and we traded stories along the way.
Immediately after Debbie and I said our goodbyes, I began walking back to our house. To get home, I needed to push my double stroller across one of the busiest streets in our neighborhood. Because it was early evening, the road was especially busy. There were several soccer games going on in a nearby park and people were hustling home from work.
I eased the stroller off the sidewalk and stood between two parallel parked cars, waiting for an opportunity to cross the street. Slowly, I began to step out in to the road, while leaning over the top of the stroller, so I could have a better view of the oncoming traffic. Just then, a silver car that I had seen approaching, zoomed past at approximately 40 miles per hour. The front tire of the BOB was probably five feet from the car when it went by, but the speed of it's passing shook the whole stroller.
Although the kids were unscathed, I was overcome with the most sickening feeling I have ever experienced. Or at least, the most sickening feeling I can recall.
In my mind, I could vividly see that the car clipped the front of the stroller. I could feel the handlebar get pulled from my grip as it catapulted through the air. My breath was sucked out of my body and my stomach fell to my feet. I looked up to see Debbie walking home, a solid 100 feet away, and I imagined that if the car had struck the stroller, it would have sent it flying at least that far.
I imagined the wreckage.
I imagined myself screaming.
All day today, I have been haunted by the grisly "what-if" image. All day today, I have grabbed my children and hugged them. They don't understand why I am covering them in kisses and uttering thoughts about never leaving the house, again. They don't understand why I sat looking at them during breakfast, with tears in my eyes.
The truth is: we weren't hit.
But the mind can play some cruel tricks.
Like on Sunday when we went to church, and two men who were covered in tattoos and looked like they belonged in a gang, sat in our row. Now before the hate mail begins, I must say that I do my absolute best to not categorize any one based solely on their appearance. On more than one occasion, I have met people who dress the part of upstanding citizen - only to discover they are the biggest jerks around. Likewise, people who look ferocious, with body piercings and tattoos, come to find out, are the gentlest souls on earth.
But when the two men walked past me in church, and I could smell the alcohol on their breaths, and noticed that they wouldn't make eye contact, I felt a tinge of fear. Throughout the service, I kept trying to convince myself that after a long night of partying, these men had been led to church by a higher power and their spirits were receiving the nourishment they needed.
At the conclusion of the service, when it was obvious they weren't intending to take the whole congregation hostage, I felt even more convinced that God had guided them there.
Later, when Charlie and I were talking about the service, he confided in me that he was concerned the men had come to church as part of a gang initiation. Maybe they needed to shoot up a congregation of Christians? Or perhaps they were taking part in some terrorist plot?
What I hadn't realized, up until that point, was that while I sat in church - slightly concerned that the men might have ulterior motives - my husband was on the same wavelength. He had pegged them as bad and had already formulated how he would respond if they suddenly pulled out guns.
He would start yelling, "HIT THE DECK! HIT THE DECK!" and throw me to the ground on his left. Then he would launch off the chair next to him, and hit the first gunman. By then, the four strong-looking men that he had identified sitting behind us - and three additional men sitting in front of us - would hopefully be aware of what was going on and be in the process of mobilizing to take out the second guy.
Charlie looks like such a gentle man.
I'll bet no one would ever suspect he could kill a thug with his thumb.
Today, William has been under the weather. He hasn't eaten very much and is complaining that his tummy hurts. Charlie thinks that he looks ashen. I think that he probably picked up a bug somewhere and it's nothing serious. But once again, my mind plays cruel tricks.
What if it IS something serious?
Just the thought that my son's temporary loss of appetite might signal something more severe, causes my breath to be sucked out of my body and my stomach to fall to my feet. Now, I don't mean for my mind to be filled with dark imaginings. But after having lost so many good people to cancer over the past few years, the fears find a way.
I try to trust and have faith. I try to imagine good health and happiness. I try to imagine that Charlie and I will live to a ripe old age and our children will, too. But I know, all too well, that sometimes life doesn't work out the way you want it to. I know that people are hit by cars - gunmen appear in the most unlikely places - and illnesses strike without warning.
I know that the future is uncertain. I know that thinking about the worst thing that can happen and adjusting your behavior accordingly, is your best bet for staying safe. I know that advances are being made, every day, to combat many of the diseases that plague humanity.
And however small my contribution, I am so proud to be part of that effort.
Over the past week, my teammates have raised almost $4,000.00 for breast cancer research, education and treatment. And Debbie, who in addition to spearheading the idea of lemonade stands around San Diego County (which will debut next weekend), has just launched the Pink Lemonade Project.
It's been several months since I've exercised consistently. But over the past week, I feel like I'm finding my rhythm again. And although I know that I won't always feel like I'm on top of my game, I feel empowered this week in both body and spirit.
What about you?
******And also, which stroller do you think would generate more interest for a giveaway?
Or this one?