How do we know if we are lucky? What is the measure of fortune? I met my husband when I was 23 years old. I had just graduated with a degree in finance and peacefully separated from my boyfriend of five years with a thank you for the easy terms of this first love. If you believe in providence he was the door gently closing as the window flew open on the rest of my life. I was ready when it happened.
Did this make me lucky? The confluence of finishing university and heading toward a man I knew I was going to marry within 1 week of our introduction? I met my adulthood at precisely the expected time. I was engaged within a year, married within three, and Sam was born a decent 13 months after. You make it look so easy, people said. You are so lucky my single girlfriends agreed. I was at the centre of the happiest circumstances for those early years, from my graduation to our engagement, to the wedding, and the christening of the child we made.
I was lucky on anniversaries and each New Years Eve, and when we moved from his small apartment to the house on the harbour. They came and came, the blessings. I was loved, secure and successful, and I turned out to be a good mother too. Fair and disciplined like my own had been, and able to keep up with my boys, which gave me a great sense of pride. I was never political about it. But I did want to raise a good boy.
But is this fortune? Is this luck in the end? Did my richness of blessings simply mean I had more to lose when the time came? Are we ever supposed to have it so easy? Does God have certain lessons for women like me? A sermon would say there is no such thing as luck, that this discounts the providence of God, of his divine plan for each of us. God is in the detail, it would say, and everything that is happening has been planned for you, it is unfolding exactly as it should. There is no luck where there is belief.
But still I have wondered. How do I measure what I was given? Can it only be understood in light of all I have lost? My faith in God teeters at the edge of something I cannot fathom when I come to this place. Was I merely lucky and the underside of this indiscriminate application was the way luck runs out, or has its fill of you and turns its charms to another, some other who may or may not take a little of what you had left when the time comes to collect on theirs?
My husband began his affair not long after my 30th birthday. Four years after our wedding and seven years before the police knocked at my door. Seven years. For as long as I had known and loved him. Seven. The number of the unlucky. The number of smashed mirrors and distorted images. The Romans believed in seven years of bad luck specifically, they thought that the body needed this amount of time to renew, to complete the shedding and changing of life’s seasons. But could seven years ever be long enough for you to completely shake off what has settled on the skin?
My Priest does not condone my superstitions. I have admitted to them in private, the rituals I’ve followed when no one is looking. There is God’s will, and my own he reminds me, but my bones know something different. I try even harder to put my faith in God, to trust his plan. But I remember the mirror I smashed on my 30th birthday, the crack of my engagement ring against the glass and the way the surface shattered outwards, like a quiet explosion. Perfectly intact, but ruined just the same.
Because you cannot see yourself clearly in fractured glass. It will only reflect your image in fragments. The cracks separate you into pieces. This is what happened to my life when she entered. Nothing ever looked the same, it was a reflection altered forever. And though I tried to bury the pieces of glass, the way they said that you could repair such things, they were just too sharp to smooth over.
Seven years of bad luck. And then the day they knocked on the door to tell me he was dead. The body renewing itself, shedding and changing, trying to shake off what had settled on the skin. And all the while new life taking hold, the cells he and I put together to create something new and strong like this. When he died I was three months pregnant. They still say I am the lucky one. But what is the measure of fortune now? Are we all counting something different in the end?
Time for a new voice. I am now examining the other side of the coin …