Let me set the stage: It's Joe, my youngest son's, first basketball game as the starting point guard for his junior high team. He's just played a great game--seventeen points including 9 out of 10 free throws. As usual, I sat on the top row of the bleachers. I like having the wall as a backrest and it's a good view of the court.
The game ended, the team went into the locker room, and parents stood around talking--a few up in the bleachers, more on the floor at the bottom of the bleachers.
Across the gymnasium, I saw Joe come out of the locker room. I picked up my purse and phone and started down the stairs to meet him.
The bleachers are the pull-out kind and for some reason, the second to the top step wasn't fully extended. I hadn't noticed that when I went up, nor did I notice it when I started down. My foot landed on the shorter step, and since only a tiny bit of my heel had anything to gain traction on, my foot folded over the edge of the step.
What happened next was spectacular. As my foot folded, my body twisted. I'm not sure if I was trying to reach for something or if the momentum of my twisted foot just worked it's way through my entire body, but somehow I did a half-twist that threw me onto my back, on the steps of the bleachers. I reached for something to stop me, but came up empty-handed as I slid/bounced from the top of the bleachers to the bottom.
When I finally came to a rest, amid shrieks from all sides, my head was on the basketball floor while my body and legs were up the bleachers. Yes, they were still attached, but just barely.
In a panic, my husband and two sons came running over. "Karey, are you okay?" "Mom, mom, what happened? Are you all right?" Travis (husband) and Bruce (oldest son) took my hands and tried to pull me up, but have you ever tried to get up when the lower half of your body is at a much higher elevation than the upper half? It's nearly impossible. It goes against the laws of nature or physics or decency. Feel free to try it if you don't believe me.
The solution: Pull mom down the rest of the way to the floor and then help her up. And do this in front of most of the parents and now several of the boys on the team.
I used to think I wanted my superpower to be teleporting, but at that moment, I wanted the power of invisibility.
Somehow they managed to get me upright and sitting on the bottom row of the bleachers. Concerned faces were all around me asking about my condition. In truth, I was in excruciating pain, but I smiled and joked that only my pride was hurt. A few tried to ease my embarrassment with jokes. I reached over to pick up my purse that had landed on the bottom step, but unfortunately, I hadn't zipped it up and so the contents spilled all over the bottom step of the bleachers and the floor.
In just a few short moments, I became the object of concern and pity and probably humor, although everyone did a remarkable job of not laughing hysterically. Thankfully, everyone was kind and the boys even had a string of text messages asking about what had happened to Joe's mom and about my well-being.
Let me interrupt this moment of mortification with a question. Why couldn't someone have captured this on their phone? I promise you, it would have gone viral. It was a fall worthy of repeated viewing and sharing all over social media. It would have been shared on Buzzfeed and Huffington Post. It could have made someone rich.
Anyway, it's been two days now and yes, I can laugh about it, but I feel like I lost a cage fight. I've had a little time to think and have recognized two tender mercies. When I think of a tender mercy, I usually think of a small good thing that happens in the midst of a big bad thing, but these two things seem pretty big to me.
Tender Mercy 1: No one was standing on the bleachers in front of me. At the most, I could have killed someone. At the least, I would have maimed someone pretty badly.
Tender Mercy 2: I almost wore a dress that day, but at the last minute, opted for jeans and a sweater. A dress twisted around my waist would have upped the humiliation factor ten-fold. Dodged the bullet there.
I have just one question for you. If anyone has an answer, please feel free to share it. Why do some people get to go through life with grace, composure, dignity, and beauty? They glide through life, never getting ruffled, always looking prim and put-together. I, on the other hand, get to barrel through life, lumbering, careening, tumbling and splatting.
Right now I'm moving slowly and carefully. Now if I can just make myself do the same when the aches and pains are gone.