I was reading today about an older gentleman who, 35 years ago, was told that he had 6 weeks to live. Then he learned that dodged something serious and got a second chance. And he made the best of it. He lived, and is still living, his life to the fullest, having received the darkest news a person can receive in life and then being granted a gift. A gift from who, I don’t know, but a gift nonetheless. The gift of a second chance.
I think about second chances a lot. Who gets them, who doesn’t, the different kinds of second chances you get in your lifetime, the ones you make the best of, the ones that change you, the ones that change you for only a while…which means that they didn’t really change you at all. And if it didn’t change you, were you worthy of a second chance?
Are warning signs of impending doom a form of second chance? Telling you that you had better make some changes or you’re going to lose everything? Maybe even your life?
Are second chances the result of an act of grace? By a wronged person who forgives you of your failures and agrees to give you a fresh start? Are second chances owed to us by those who practice the basic virtue of compassion…by those who love us? Vice versa?
In my novel, Scout’s Honor, I introduced the reader to a character named Rob Caralessi who was given second chances in some aspects of life. And he was the kind of person who deserved one. I wrote him like that and created him as so. As a writer, it’s nice to be able to play God and give deserving “people” a second chance.
But in real life, that’s not how it works a lot of the time. The young man who tried an overly potent drug for the first time falls asleep and his heart stops. He doesn’t get to wake up in an Emergency Room the next day with “Well, Hell, I’m not trying that again!” and then receive a second chance. The middle aged man, who has never done anything to anyone and who lived his life the best he could, gets to be given the worst cancer diagnosis a person can receive…terminal. He doesn’t get to battle for a chance to live. He doesn’t get to walk around at Relay For Life with a “Survivor” tee shirt. He doesn’t get to use words like “remission.” Another man gets on a motorcycle and drives on a highway. He gets hit head on and dies from internal bleeding on his way to the hospital. He never gets to just be in a coma for a month, heal up and then get a second chance.
Second chances. Some people get them. Others do not. Just like death and tragedy, marriage and children, careers and friendships, second chances are just another crap shoot from life with no solid answers, rhymes or reasons. I’m sure if we all thought about the various second chances we’ve received in our lives, we’d be humbled. But then…what did you do with them? What will you do?
Remember, not everyone gets them. So make the best of yours.