You know the ones, they range in the realm between the physical and visceral emotional moments of life. As I rushed out the door recently, I in a fit of brief success, loaded the porch items I had gathered for our local thrift shop. I was struck by the unfortunate but familiar smell of cat urine. As I shoved the mismatched bags and boxes into the back of my car, I noticed something had leaked on my left leg. Before I knew what had happened, I had touched the spot with my right index finger and swiftly brought it to my nose. Ahhh, a lapse in judgement. Now running late to speech therapy, I got in the car and headed to the destination just a couple miles away from our home. My gravest mistake was the swig of coffee I allowed before jumping into the cold air. The whiff of cat pee was so horrifying and all from a worthwhile task. The nearness of my to hand as I brought the coffee to my mouth was life altering.
I gagged as I got out of the car, heaved as I opened Amos' door and then moved back quickly before the vomit splattered in the hospital parking lot. Like all humbled people, I glanced around to ensure I was safe from spectators but no, there was a whole gaggle of them, a bit elderly, four in number, male and female. To say they looked horrified and disgusted it an understatement. I smiled miserably and pretended to be struggling with the car seat buckle that I have now done and undone well over 10,000 times in the last ten years, four children later. Their slowness was too much and I found a bottle of water, swished and waited for them to pass before I politely spit on the marked moment. I poured the remaining bit of clear liquid to hide the evidence and with a smile, headed into the hospital for our morning therapy. Of course I had recovered by then and shared my story with our morning therapist, who stunned and secretly horrified, encouraged me to wash my hands. I declined, pondering my moment of humbling clarity.
I realize the details of this account are incredibly gross and vibrant but I was struck in realizing that the greatest lessons in life always are skewed in one direction or another, the moment my husband proposed, so excited he had yet to get the stone placed in the ring. Yes, he asked me to marry him with a handful of "parts" as my dad laughingly said. No, the man that wanted to claim me as his own had swallowed his pride out of incredible love. Humbling clarity and still the best decision I have ever made for myself.
A far cry from the parking lot incident but along the same line of defining how the extreme breeds loveliness or if that is too much of a stretch, at least humbling truth. As Amos and I made our way from the sodden parking lot incident, he approached the curb, and as usual analyzed the 3-4 inch step. Instead of taking my hand or crawling up the curb, he lifted his right foot and took the great leap. Up he went, a perfect first step and I clapped and cheered and those witnesses to my vomiting, just in front of us, offered kind looks and even a few sheepish smiles themselves. My own turn for humbling clarity.