It was almost a year ago that I took a medical leave from my job. I expected to return to work in a month. Then the month became two months. Then three.

At that point, I didn’t know if I was physically capable of returning to work. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine not working. Age 57 is not exactly an ideal time to drop out of the workforce. And retirement wasn’t on my horizon yet.

Yet a nagging question bubbled at the edge of my consciousness: Do I really have the drive or the desire to go back to the rat race?

Just before my three month mark – the twelve weeks that my company was obligated to hold my position – I had an appointment with my surgeon. I decided that if he said I was well enough to go back to work, I would.

Doctor D. examined me in the undignified position to which I was accustomed. Then I got dressed and he returned to talk. He explained that there was a new development, a new malfunction. I wasn’t familiar with its long name. He said that it wasn’t serious yet, but if it was neglected, in several years it would become a dangerous condition. He named it. Whoa. That I had heard of. I was shocked. I thought I might cry.

At that moment, the decision was made. I had to get better. There was no way I could return to work.


I got dressed and checked out in a haze. It seemed surreal. It was not my body that walked out on the tiled hospital floors, not me who stood facing the elevator doors.

When I hit the lobby, I put on my sunglasses to avoid eye-contact. I pushed through the double glass doors, dodging the red-vested valet parking crew. I stepped out into the parking lot and the brilliant September sun.

And here’s where it got weird. But good.

Without any conscious effort to change my thinking, without having fully processed what happened in the exam room, two thoughts exploded in my head:

“I am going to have such a great life.”

“Michael and I are going to have such a great life.”

One minute I was numb, then next minute, Bam!  Like neon lights in my brain. And in that Bam!  instant, I knew the prophecy was true.

Until I wrote this, I never realized how I have a pattern of prophetic thoughts that come to me in parking lots. I wrote about another one here. It’s hard to ignore profundity when it’s revealed amidst potholes and speed bumps. If my brained was zinged in church, on a beach at sunset, or in a moment of prayer, it would almost be too made-for-movie sappy. But a parking lot? It’s gotta be real.

Right there on the asphalt, I broke out in a huge smile. I was giddy, my heart pounding. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband Michael.

Yay! I have a really bad new problem and I’ll have to quit my job, but we’re going to have a great life!

Nine months later, I can confirm that we have had a great life. The thing is, our life already was pretty awesome. But it’s nice to know that even when well-laid plans go awry, there can be gifts waiting to flash and pound within you and make you smile.

I wish I could say that I always appreciate my parking lot prophesies, but it would be a lie.  Some days I lose sight of that September sun, and metaphorically put on my sunglasses. But I don’t need to go anywhere special to get a refresher.

I just have to find a patch of blacktop and expect the unexpected.

Resilient Decisions When The Chips Are Down was last modified: by

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