Second Chances

Here we are at the beginning of another new year.  Mind boggling really.  I’m sure 2018 was a typical year.  Some highs.  Some lows. But I’ll be darned if I can remember most of it.  At this point, I feel like my life is passing by at warp speed. Summers jump to fall as swiftly as they both blur into single digit winters with the hope of spring a blink away.  My birthdays are no longer just a number but a reminder of years passing more quickly than I’d like and the realization that life is short and moments are precious.

We said goodbye to 2018 and welcomed 2019 with our youngest daughter’s wedding in Los Angeles. A date choice I balked at for months and then in reality it was a wonderful way to ring in the new year. A new marriage.  New beginnings for our family with another “plus one” welcomed with open arms. More people to love. More joy to share.

Less than a week after the wedding, my husband had hip replacement surgery. (Talk about warp speed.) My son came to the  waiting room to help me pass the hours until we knew all was well.  And we passed those hours talking about one of his favorite subjects.  Movies.

He loves movies. Loves movies of all kinds, shapes and forms. From sappy chick flicks to heroic acts of undaunting courage.  Mary Poppins to Braveheart. He watches trailers like others check the weather.  He quotes movies, and his movie heroes, to answer conversational questions.

Me: Staunton, can you take that trash out?

Staunton: I’m your huckleberry. (Doc Holliday, Tombstone)

Out of the blue, he will send me a text of a movie clip that will lift my spirits or cause me to pause for it’s simple poignance.  I’ll look at my phone and there is Patrick Swayze taking “Baby” out of the corner and jumping off stage to carry her into a new life. Or Nicolas Cage having coffee at the airport with Tea Leoni at the end of  The Family Man, a perennial Christmas favorite for both of us.

On his short list of best movies would be the aforementioned with Shawshank Redemption, It’s a Wonderful Life, Schindler’s List, Lonesome Dove, Pretty Woman, Ghost— just to name a few.

I was thinking as we sat in that crowded hospital waiting room, like all those around us, worried about a loved one and wondering if our news would be good. I thought of all of his favorite films and what they had in common.  Was there a central theme?  Was there a lesson to be learned, a life vision to be gained? And then it came to me.

Second chances.

His heroes and heroines get second chances.  Mary Poppins saves a father and reconnects a family, Nicolas Cage sees his life as it could be, and not as he is living it, and chooses a new start. Andy Dufresne spends 20 years in Shawshank and holds tight to a second chance and through sheer will, ingenuity and against all odds, gets it. George Bailey wants to end his life before his angel Clarence offers him a glimpse of the world without him.  And Bedford Falls looks like home again.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.  I think they are a little silly actually and history would prove most often impossible to keep. But this new year, I like the idea of second chances.  For ourselves, for others.  Think of an old friend you have let drift away and call him/her. Forgive someone you thought was unforgivable.  Give yourself a break for a failure or an opportunity that slipped away and go for it again.  Rethink a hard-held belief or opinion, a stereotype or a prejudice and challenge it.  Truth test it again and see if it still holds water.

Everyone deserves a second chance.  Especially ourselves who we seem to be the hardest on. Maybe we were too young or too foolish or too self-absorbed to see a first chance, so why not give it another whirl?

As my son might quote William Wallace towards the end of Braveheart. Fighting for Scotland. His co-patriots all but given up.

William: We’ve got to try. We can’t do this alone. Joining the nobles is the only hope for our people. You know what happens if we don’t take that chance?
Hamish: What?
William: Nothing.

Here’s to a 2019 filled with somethings.

And second chances.