Today I have a special guest for you. Please meet and welcome Peggy Duffy. Besides being my awesome sister-in-law, Peggy is a yoga instructor and the founder of Miss Fit Girls—a wonderful yoga-based mentoring program for girls aged 10-16. I encourage you to check out Miss Fit Girls, either at their website or their Facebook page.
I said Peg is a “special” guest, and she certainly is. She’s special in a lot of ways, but once you read this post, you will undoubtedly be surprised by one of those ways—she’s not a writer. (Well, not yet. She’s certainly a natural storyteller, so she’s more than halfway to being one of us. 😉 )
From the moment I read this wise essay, I knew I needed to share it with my writer friends. After all, we are the ultimate askers of “What if,” aren’t we? Enjoy!
We all do it. What if it works? What if it doesn’t?! What if I don’t pass this test? What if I can’t get out? What if I can’t find a job? A partner? What if I fail? What if…what if I don’t?!
May 10th, 2010 – She just came home from her first year of college. The next day was starting her internship at a swanky ad company. It was a beautiful May day. She was shining too. She had so much energy that a quick bike ride would help dispense it.
I answered and heard: She’s going to be fine.
It’s funny how time blurs, instructions are not ‘heard’ but understood. I was one mile from the accident. I pulled up wherever. And I saw… I saw a car, and the back tire of a bike sticking out from under it and the ambulance. It’s true when they say all sounds disappear. I heard nothing. I only wanted to see… her.
I stepped into the ambulance. There she was, head brace, strapped down, bloody. As I stared at her head, she rolled her eyes back to see me.
“I’m fine. I’m fine.” Oh, she’s always trying to protect me. I looked down at my girl. I looked her up & down, watching the EMT’s prepare her arms for IV’s.
“No. I’M FINE. YOU just got run over by a car.” She gave me a look of “Really? Sarcasm now?” It’s my go-to.
“So, you’re ‘fine’, right? Have you seen who is working on you?” I was referring to the fine looking EMT boys saving my girl’s life.
She smiled and raised her eyebrows. She’s fine.
“Fine” can be defined in many many ways. She was driven to the hospital in an ambulance, her clothes cut off in front of 27 nurses and doctors, cone of shame, iv’s, X-rays, poking, pinching, blinding flashlights to the eyes. All for good reason: what they found… road rash, tire skid mark on her back, a small crack in the transverse process, and a bunch of pulled muscles. They left us alone. She was fine… then the shock wore off. It was like the blanket that had covered and protected her was now of no need and slowly pulled down off her body. Her face changed, she looked at me wide eyed and became a very scared, very young child. She wailed. And so did I. What if her head had hit the cement, the bumper, what if her back was crushed by the tire? What if…yes.. what if I had lost my girl that day? We both LOST it. Deep deep belly cries that filled the room. It filled the halls all the way to the nurses’ station. I knew our cries were heard because a few minutes into our bawl-out, a little nurse slid in like Joel in Risky Business with her finger raised and a loud “HEY!”
“STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW!” She was pissed? Sort of.. but more than that, she had a message. Mid-bawl we both stopped.
“SHE is fine. She’s alive and not broken, not dying. She’s here … Now.” (… and this next line changed our lives).
“Those ‘what if’s’… those ‘what ifs’ will only steal from you!! What ifs will kill you.” and she left us. *perfect entrance, perfect exit.
I looked at Meg. Laying in her hospital bed, scraped, bruised, sore. She was here. I would get to see her grow more into the beautiful girl she already is.
The next few weeks were rough. A frustrating recovery and a joyous journey to full-on enjoying life and all it has to offer. No accident, illness, disease leaves you the same as you were before. It changes you, challenges you. What are your ‘what if’s’? WHAT IF… you lived it without the fear of losing it, rather living it with the love of having it. That is my only ‘what if’ question. I don’t even ask it anymore, I know the answer so well.
What are your “what ifs”? Do they ever get in the way? Please share.
About Miss Fit Girls:
Connecting, Encouraging, Strengthening, Accepting, Celebrating
Miss Fit Girls is a unique yoga-based program for girls ages 10-16 years old. With fast and intense changes going on in their bodies and minds, Miss Fit Girls, gives them the time they need to slow down and enjoy. At MFG, they learn to trust and listen to their own thoughts and emotions, embrace the movement of change and learn to respond rather than react. They come to the mat to practice so they are prepared for the ups & downs in their daily lives.
What a powerful story — and what a wonderful reminder to focus on the here and now.
I agree, Liz. Powerful is a perfect word. Peg’s a natural. Thanks!
This is an amazing story on so many levels, and I love that it was written not by a self defined writer, but by the power of story itself, and resilience, and the great question “what if.” A powerful lesson for mother and daughter and who knows how it changed their lives. How great to have a mentoring program to help girls be in the moment and accept themselves as perfect and whole.
It’s such a pure lesson, isn’t it, Sheila? Thanks so much for sharing!
LOVED the line toward the end, “What if…you lived it without the fear of losing it, rather living it with the love of having it.” I think that is the ultimate gift we can teach our children. Which means WE have to live the life we want our kids to live. Great story and lesson. Thanks for sharing Peggy and Vaughn!
I think that line, about the fear involved in so many of our ‘what ifs,’ resonated best for me, too. I know it’s natural for us to ask them, and ‘what if’ can lead to great stories. But when they are provoked by fear, it’s time to take a second look. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to nearly lose a daughter (let alone a favorite niece). But the lesson is still a powerful one for me. I’ve been asking too many of late: “What if I can’t find a publisher? What if I have to rewrite it… Again? What if readers don’t ‘get it’?” I know I should be grateful for every wonderful thing writing has already given me.
Thanks for reading and for commenting, Hallie!
What if… A powerful essay changed your outlook of the day? This one changed mine. Thank you.
🙂 Mine, too! Thanks, B!
I am so thankful your niece made it through, coming out joyous and brave on the other side. I want to high five her mother, for the strong example and philosophy of her life. Many thanks to you and to Peggy for sharing.
Yes, the fear. So many questions, so many doubts can tumble over us, drowning us in the power we give them.
I have five younger sisters. The next in line, three years younger than me, is in a wheel chair. And as hard as it is when she wants to join us in dancing, or the constant pain she has to endure, we are so grateful she’s alive and all her compassion and smarmy jokes get to be a part of our lives. Her heart stopped beating seven times after her car accident. Two years later, she almost lost her husband during what was supposed to be a routine operation. His heart stopped beating three times. To see those two together is to see love and hope personified. Needless to say, they are my heroes.
When those what ifs grab my ankle and threaten to pull me under, I remember all those looming what ifs in hospital rooms and middle of the night calls. How can I do anything but be brave when I almost lost one of my best friends more than once (no one knows me like this girl) and she’s only a phone call away?
To keep writing is a small gift I can give my sister when she’s always given me the gift of faith. She’s the one who read my stories and poems when we were kids and told me I had something good. To this day, she reads my stories and comments on my blog posts. When I almost lost her, I understood what value life has.
Goodness, I’m lucky. So lucky.
” What if…you lived it without the fear of losing it, rather living it with the love of having it.”
Oh, yes. Doing that.
Oh Tonia, now you’ve gone and gotten ole’ Major Weeper misty again. Thank you for sharing your sister with us today. It’s a good day for sister gratitude, isn’t it? What a powerful perspective we’ve been offered by them. What a wonderful addition to the conversation! I’m certainly feeling braver now. 🙂
What if you spent more time thinking about the Truth of this than you spent actually living it? That’s what looked back at me “from the mirror” when I read this.
Ah, here’s another sister. 🙂 Such a “wake up and smell the coffee” message, isn’t it, Lisa? Thanks for sharing the clarity of your reflection on it!
This truly hit home. Thank you so much for sharing. I had lunch with my youngest today who celebrates her birthday in less than two weeks, but when she was six I came within a whisper of losing her and it changed me forever. I might as well have been yesterday. Still, that lesson was ultimately “living it with the love of having it.” Four years ago she and her sister raced me to the ER in the nick of time. I cherish days now, not for the what ifs, but for the living.
Happy birthday to the baby of the family (being one myself, I can call her that 😉 )! Good for you, for recognizing the lessons and the blessings you cherish. You are an inspiration, Christina!
Thank you, Vaughn. Yeah, I was the baby, too. 🙂
Beautiful and to the point. It’s always good to be reminded to stay focused. And I’m so glad there was a happy ending. 🙂
We all need occasional reminders of the gift of life, don’t we? Thanks, Valerie!
Moving. Gripping. Horrifying. So beautifully expressed–I can’t say how very relieved I am this story ended well (holy cow, how do get a tire tread on your back and be okay?) This is a story of how miracles still happen; it’s so uplifting. I love the message. It fits in well with our writerly motto for ‘being brave’ this year.
The Miss Fit program sounds amazing! Kudos to Peggy for reaching out to young girls, and perpetuating an environment of reaching out and touching lives with positivity.
I know, re: the tread mark!! When we first heard, we were stunned and horrified… Until the better news started funneling in. Talk about gratitude!
Miss Fit is as amazing as its founder. 🙂 Thanks so much, D!
Wow. The post touched me, the comments made me cry (especially Tonia’s). And perfectly timed – I’ve been battling a lot of what if’s lately. Thank you for sharing this!!
Hi Orly! Such an incredible post AND comments, aren’t they? Tonia’s got me, too. Glad it was timely for you! Thanks for stopping by, and please come again! 🙂
Wow, just wow! Thank you for sharing this horrifying and beautiful story. I’m in tears of joy for you and Meg.
It grabbed me and shook me the first time I read it. Glad you were wowed too, Heather. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
First of all, I’m so glad Meg is okay! Second, this is such a moving story and am important reminder to enjoy each moment. I can’t even imagine being in Peggy’s place. Wow. Thanks for sharing Peggy, Meg, and Vaughn.
Hi Nicole! Peg paints her angst and relief so beautifully, doesn’t she? I felt it all again in reading. I keep telling her, she’s got a future in this! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!
I am a chronic what-if-er, so this post resonated with me in so many ways, what a powerful story. Thank you.
Howdy stranger. Feels like we’ve all been hibernating, doesn’t it? So glad the post resonated, Lisa. Thanks for letting us know. 🙂