When I was six years old, I had a brush with death. It began with a clumsy careering into sharp wooden armchair corners that split my head open.
There was a rush, hurry and flurry to get this child to hospital and stem the flow.
The chair came off better than me. I still have the scars to prove it.
Then, in the somnolent heat of summer, I blithely stepped out from the side of an ice-cream van parked just across the road from my home, my mouth watering in anticipation of the cool treat now starting to melt slow in my hot little hand, and I paused..
I’d been schooled in the Green Cross Code of ‘Look left, look right, look left again’ and if all was clear it was safe to cross the road. This time, with other things on my mind, I neglected the final glance left.
A speeding car caught me on its bumper and tossed me into the gutter like a discarded rag doll.
My father heard a squeal of brakes and crunch of tires that sang out louder than the motor-racing he was viewing on the TV. He had some premonition of danger, so he hurtled from his armchair and out of the house.
He found me scrunched and curled like a foetal-curved comma, motionless, lips blue, body still and bloodied. Feared I was dead.
With his heart in his mouth and tears in his eyes, he gently scooped me up and held me close. Someone else must have rung for an ambulance, because he held fast as its siren rent the air, while the silent passers-by watched the scene unfold.
Thankfully, the outcome was much better than anticipated. My ability to flop sack-heavy onto a lap with limbs loose may have caused a parent to grumble, but it was what saved me from greater injury.
I sustained concussion, hypoxia, and a bad case of ‘gravel rash‘ caused by being scraped along the road, with skin shredded raw as grated cheese threads. These wounds would require frequent dressings over the months ahead, but that was all.
Miraculously, there were no broken bones either.
I was lucky.. or was it luck? With the hindsight of years and further experiences I see it differently.
My sixth year was also when my grandma died. We were considered too young to go to the funeral, but I had a savour of grown-up grief and solemnity, cushioned by plenty of tea, sandwiches and sympathy. A foretaste of funerals to come.
And as I grew older, I discovered how brief candle-like this life can be. Realised how we have a gift of time and years to use wisely.
When I was six life felt timeless, days were long and there was much still to discover.
And it does indeed stretch into an endless, eternal future with God by virtue of faith in Christ and His gift of new life.
‘Now we are six’ by A.A Milne
“When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new
When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more
When I was five I was barely alive
Now I am six I am clever as clever;
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever”
Now, I am no longer the little six year old girl whose body fell carelessly into sharp corners, crumpled death-like on impact, and whose favourite dress got ruined one warm and sunny Saturday afternoon.
Now, I am 60. Life has unfolded slow before my eyes yet with an alarming tendency to shorten as each year follows another. Who knew?
My limbs are stiff and ungainly from years of arthritis and M.E, unable to curl swift into a ball. These days I cannot run, hop, skip, jump or dance as I once did. Though my girl-child heart still longs to do so.
But I can sit and meditate. Reflect on how goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of this challenging life, even in the dark, hidden places where I thought I was alone.
My mind aware of the gift of new life Christ gave me when I was 17, and His hands extending through many a long year since as He pours out daily manna and grace for my soul.
I can pray; I can read God’s word, absorb its truth now lived out in experience.
I can write, bless and encourage others with the gift of words He gives me.
Have I become “clever as clever”? Probably not, though some see me as wise. But I think they simply see and hear the words of Jesus Himself as He speaks through me, sharing Friend to friend.
As One who has companioned all my dying-living moments here and who will see me through to this world’s end and into the beginning of the eternally new, Jesus has become everything to me.
And I see the years ahead (however long or short they may be) as further opportunity to get to know Him better, to love Him more and speak out His worth.
One day soon I may write about the celebrations I have had, decide on a bucket/’Wish List’ for the days to come, a year of yearnings, hopes and desires and dreams still dancing in my soul.
For now, I need a bit of time to think about being 60 and all it may mean to me, to be grateful for this gift of time, even as age and infirmity kicks brutal in my body.
Because I just might not have been so ‘lucky’ all those years ago… and these words may never have got written, nor this life lived out with my family and friends.
Neither would I have had all the experience of God’s goodness and grace as the grown-up woman I am now. And that doesn’t bear thinking about, somehow.
**How do you feel as you reflect back on your life? Can you see God’s hand at work in everything? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.**