It was an orange spider; one of those light, feathery, hard to see dust spiders that collect in the corners of ceilings and floors and the bottom of unused antique bureau drawers.
It was dead.
There really was no reason to evict it from the corner of the staircase niche where it chose to make it’s final resting place. No one goes up the stairs in our house. And even if by some small chance someone did, would they notice a dead orange feathery spider?
But it bothered me.
I go up and down the stairs at least once or twice a day. Tabby’s litter box is in my unused second floor office and surely she appreciates that I clean it. I know if I happen to need the printer or a book or a catalog (ha! like I need a catalog!) from the room that was supposed to inspire marvelously creative spaces I appreciate the litter box clean.
So I stared at it. I knew if I didn’t handle this little situation right away I would forget and when the time came for actual human life to ascend or descend our staircase they might see the fruit of my laziness gathered in the corner of a niche.
I contemplated it’s demise.
I considered the spider, my fear of heights, of stairs and of falling hard on solid oak treads. The mere contemplation sent a shiver down my well-acquainted-with-pain spine.
Staircases and I have never had a good relationship. Well, at least my side of the relationship experiences pain, I’m not sure how the stairs feel. I’ve fallen more times than I care to remember; although each week at the chiropractor I am fortunate enough to be reminded.
The first out of seven broken bones in my foot happened on a staircase; so did my bruised tailbone.
Lost count of how many times that happened.
I work hard to avoid staircases. If given the choice of stairs or elevator, third century technology wins. When I don’t have the pleasure of a choice, I approach the first step with fear and trepidation. I pause, assess potential body damage (ie are the stairs carpeted or not), and set foot downward only after securely fastening my hand to the rail.
While considering a home for purchase a Master Bedroom on the first floor was a must. I’m getting older. And if I am going to traverse the house in the middle of the night on cold dark floors looking for a glass of water or a Tylenol or a heating pad I don’t want to take the chance of another painful encounter with stairs.
What if there were a burglar?
We know Bob isn’t going to wake up at the sound of pipes tapping or the guard cat meowing. Y’all know I would be nominated as lead investigator for the job. And it’s impossible to pursue a serial killer in the dark while cautiously descending a staircase.
I carefully weighed my options.
Should I continue (46 years later) to hold on to my hyper, type A, queen-of-cleanliness (second only to the lil General) personality or blow contamination to the wind and leave all God’s creatures alone in their pathetic subjection to futility.
It was then I realized I’d have to set something down, get a ladder, and …..swipe the bugger with my hand.
I was carrying several small items; a phone, a knit-wit, and the afore mentioned result of cleaning the litter box. Not one to waste a trip upstairs, not me, nope nope nope. But in that brief moment I thought, “Hey! It’s just a feathery spider! I surely don’t need to go to such trouble.” I personally have been granted ALL things which pertain to life and spiderlessness.
So I blew.
If there is anything more certain (as evidenced by the mere fact that I am blogging about this) it is that I am full of hot air.
Why not use it?
In my, hands-are-too-full and I-don’t-want-to-waste-another-trip-up-and-down-the-steps mind, I figured I could simply exhale enough air to dislodge the feathery spider from it’s nest and be done with it. “Carry on!” I say.
The orange feathery spider floated up; the orange feathery spider cascaded down. The orange feathery spider lodged back into its original position.
“Well this creature ain’t payin rent,” I’m thinkin, so now it HAS to go. However I still refuse to set any of my trinkets down or make an ‘unnecessary’ trip.
I blow harder
In one surreal moment, the orange feathery spider floated over the stairs, above the banister and downward toward the first floor. I found myself thinking, “this would make a great short film.” I could even hear music in the background as the spider floated and swayed-floated and swayed on the big screen behind me as I accepted my Oscar. Perhaps I would display it in the niche.
That’s when it happened.
My eyes followed the orange feathery spider as it descended
My hand reached for the bannister
My foot felt for the step
My elbow hit first.
It’s amazing the things one thinks of in a moment of extraordinary trauma. In that transition of time people refer to as ‘everything moved in slow motion’ I thought “OW!” How did my elbow hit where my foot was supposed to step?
My tailbone took the next hit.
In my mind I screamed again, “OW!” And in a weird progression of contemplation for what was happening I thought back to my elbow and realized, “it isn’t broken, thank you Jesus for protecting my elbow.”
That actually happens.
You hear about people in dire situations offering up hail Mary’s and begging God, “If you spare me this time, Lord, I swear I’ll become a missionary to China.”
Note: I did not say that.
But AS I WAS FALLING I found myself praying. “Thank you Jesus, my head wasn’t the first body part to meet this particular staircase.”
My ribs joined the action.
I have dreams, or shall we say nightmares, when this very thing happens. Bob at work, no one in my neighborhood home (hello?) and me lying unconscious on the floor for hours until someone comes home or rings the doorbell or peeps through my windows.
I guess at some point during my expedition of barreling down the first five steps my hand found the handrail and, far from acting as a flotation device designed to save me from bodily harm, it instead threatened additional and more substantial damage.
I felt myself swing.
Either my arm would proceed on a path that evicted itself from my shoulder or I would have to tough it up and take the last five stairs like a trooper, come what may.
I let go, closed my eyes, and slid downward toward the floor.
“Thank you Jesus,” I heard myself utter, not so much with conviction but rather resigned recognition that ALL things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.
I was just so grateful to be conscious.
I ran for the freezer, again with gratitude that I could run! As I ransacked through chicken and fish and corn and ice cream, “where’s the ice pack!!??” my pain turned to panic, my thankfulness to fear for what MIGHT have happened.
Not so much from physical pain, although I knew that was yet to come; no, my quick, short, inadequate breath came because of emotional trauma. Yes, if you have heard my teaching on emotions, my MIND was telling my BODY to FLEE! from my body. But since we know that can’t happen if you are still drawing breath, somewhere deep inside I must have decided to quit breathing.
“Breathe!” I called Bob. If you’re going to careen down a flight of wood stairs you might as well let someone know there is a distinct possibility you may pass out. “Breathe,” he said.
I am such a baby. Ask Bob (he agrees); off to the Emergency Room we went.
It’s weird when you actually wish you have a broken bone. But when you are sitting in a Trauma Center, eliciting the undivided attention of men and women who spent MANY years in school and residencies and rotations and sleepless nights and heart wrenching injuries and severed limbs and DEATH, the last thing you want to hear from the nurse is “oh, your fingers got skinned….”
So all (ALL) of this is to say, God is good. God is good all the time or God is not good. And even though I had to turn around and spend the following three days SITTING at a conference on a goose egg bum, and even though I still can’t park myself and even though it will be forever before I go up those stairs again, I still believe ALL things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.
I’m just sayin.