Life: A Game of Chance

Author: Michele Hiester Marcum

When I was a kid, I loved to play dice games.  I loved to toss the cubes into the little cup and then shake them until the rattle annoyed everyone in the room so much that they yelled "stop" in unison.  And then I'd do it again.  I loved the rush that came from never knowing what I'd roll.  Doubles? Full house? Snake eyes?  It was all a game of chance, and I loved the excitement, and I hated losing.  With every loss came a renewed vigor for upping the ante.  I liked knowing luck was on my side more often than not.  I played to win, and risk was everything. 


I was cleaning out the game cabinet the other day, and I found an old Yahtzee game like the one I used to play with my brother.  It reminded me of all those family nights, huddled around the dining room table, playing games, munching on popcorn, and creating memories.  It reminded me of whom I used to be.  And it got me thinking about how much my life mirrors that game.  I would be interested to know how many of you are playing this "game" I'm living, too. 

So before I elaborate on that concept, let me say this: I hate March.  March begins with my brothers birthday. . . and ends with the anniversary of his death.  As any bereaved individual would most likely agree, anniversaries are tough.  Even if there is joy to be found in a specific date, there is sorrow as well.  For me, even after 8 years, it is hard to fully celebrate his birthday because I know the sad reminder of his death follows just 19 days later.  Remember the Shakespeare homework in high school where you were asked to consider the foreboding warning, "Beware the ides of March"?  It was the message that warned Julius Caesar something bad was about to happen.  That's kind of what March feels like to me: oppressive, dismal, and final, which is not like me at all. 

And that's what I mean about the Yahtzee game.  Using the most overused word in the English language, I say I am "fine" nearly every other day of the year, but when March 1 rolls around, I feel like every emotion within my being has been placed in a cup and shaken with an enthusiasm I no longer possess.  And when they, these emotions, are spilled out, I am just as surprised as the next person to find out what lands in front of me.  Am I going to be sad?  Happy? Irritated?  Grateful?  Annoyed?  Maybe I'll experience some of that childhood luck and roll doubles to find myself doubly happy for an entire day.  Maybe.  Probably not. 

For just this short period of time each year, I find myself more cautious.  More guarded.  I don't play to win anymore, and my risks are less than they once were.  I don't enjoy games of chance, and I know that luck isn't always a good thing.  There's no enjoyment in seeing my gloomy emotions dumped out for others to scrutinize. 

I am genuinely happy most the time.  There are just certain times of the year that grief sort of catches up with me and knocks me down for a bit.  It scatters my thoughts and makes me wish for a life that once was.  March is one of those times, I suppose, but then I find reassurance because April is coming!  Longer days, warmer temperatures, greener grass, and sunshine that hangs around all day long!  Spring holds so many surprises that it somehow makes March a little more tolerable if I let it.  I love that first spring day just after the snow has melted and spring jackets make their debut, when I go for a walk with the family and see the neighbors we've not seen since winter's hibernation.  It is, quite possibly, the luckiest day of the year!