Just Shelley

The Odds

He was born with the odds against him and the miracle of his birth was accompanied by the miracle of his life. Arms too short and body so weak, they said he would never make it through high school, but he did. And like a weakling at the beach, he kicked sand into the face of his own mortality.

Must not run hard, they would say, and he’d grab tennis racquet, holding it close to his chest because he could hold it no other way and he ran and he hit and he lived. Every time the odds would try to hold him back, he’d look right through them and just continue on.

He’d sneak out at night to join his friends, getting into the mild trouble all teens get into, drinking a bit too much, partying a little too hard. His parents were aghast and scolded him and said to stay away from his Bad Friends. But they weren’t bad — they just saw within him the spirit, the normalness of him.

He grew from a frail kid into an adult, spending too many days looking at white walls. Getting too many cards along the way. Against the odds, in spite of the odds, he thrived. “How are you feeling?”, you’d ask and he’d say, “Heck with that, let’s go ride a horse.”

I remember once when he helped us move, watching him haul boxes into a moving truck, shoving them in so hard I thought something would break and I’d say “Take it easy”, and he just laughed.

The spirit, even the strong spirit can’t work around a leaky heart and he had surgery yet again. And once more, he beat the odds, turning around at the door when he walked out, saluting the hospital good-bye.

But then, a few weeks later, he went for a walk and when he returned he said he felt tired. Wanted a nap. When he didn’t show for dinner, they went to check and found he had died in his sleep.

He was 48, and the odds had finally caught up.

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