I really enjoy watching athletes compete, like in the Olympics, but I can’t help speculating about the ones who don’t win a medal. They generally lose by such a small margin I wonder if any of them have a hard time getting over it by thinking they almost won.
This had me remembering a time when my son and I watched a taxi just miss hitting my husband while crossing a busy New York City street. Nolan had looked up at me with big eyes and said, “Daddy almost got hit by a car!”
“I know,” I said, feeling shaken and angry. “He shouldn’t have been looking down at his phone.” Obviously, texting and walking could be as dangerous as texting and driving, and I wanted Nolan to know that.
Hours later, long after the incident, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant that served Nolan’s favorite drink. He was happily sucking the last of his Shirley Temple from a straw when he blurted, “I can’t believe Dad almost got hit by a car today!”
“Yes, that was scary, wasn’t it?” I mindlessly responded.
Nolan looked thoughtful for a moment, then asked for another Shirley Temple, with extra cherries this time.
Back at the hotel that night I was tucking a sleepy Nolan into bed. “Did you have a good day?” I asked, covering him with the blanket. Instead of shaking his little head like he usually does he asked, “Why did Daddy almost get hit by a car?”
I realized then that something big was going on here. Obviously Nolan was having a hard time processing what had happened. He was storing this experience away, and I didn’t like where it was going. Would he be afraid to cross a street from now on? Would he worry that something bad was going to happen to one of his parents?
I will forever be grateful to the universe for quickly supplying me with just the right response. I said, “Nolan, there is no such thing as almost.”
He looked confused. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Daddy did almost get hit by a car!”
I said, “I understand that. Dad getting hit by a car was a possibility. It could have happened but the truth is, he did not get hit by a car. Almost is not real. He either did or he didn’t. And he didn’t.”
Nolan contemplated that for a moment, then shook his head and said “okay”. I wasn’t sure if that did the trick, but I left him with it, not knowing what else to do. But he never brought it up again, not even when we went back to NYC the next year.
“There is no such thing as almost” is my favorite saying now. I say it all the time, especially to myself. Whenever I feel scared about something that could have happened, I remind myself that it didn’t happen. It calms me down and prevents me from dwelling on thoughts that suck the life right out of me.
Is there something in your life you’re carrying that almost happened but didn’t? Let. It. Go.