Save the Best for Last

By Susan Harvey

Save the Best for Last

Life’s a roller coaster. Is the best part the anticipation during the long slow climb, the first heart-stopping drop, the middle twists and turns or the smooth glide into home port? As a child growing up in poverty in rural South Carolina, I dreamed of a day without bill collectors, eviction notices and auto repossessions; a stable and peaceful life without heart-stopping actions and unexpected twists and turns. I kept the faith that one day my roller coaster life would change; the best would come later. 

After I married and had two daughters, my life seemed perfect. Financially secure with no worries of my childhood impediments, I thanked God every day for my blessings of peace and stability. This was the best life. Then came the unexpected third pregnancy. My husband demanded an abortion. Our younger daughter was six, and Hubby didn’t want to start over with another baby. I cried; I prayed; I acquiesced. That night, Christopher Marlow’s Dr. Faustus filled my nightmares. I sold my soul for the security of marriage, but knowledge and power would eventually become my new goals.

My life twisted and turned out of control. Fear kept me in a continuous corkscrew. My worst fear was becoming a bag lady if Hubby left us. He refused to talk about the problem; I feared him too much to force a confrontation. Finally, my internal rage and bitterness destroyed the marriage and me.

Through the eleven years, nine months and two days – but who’s counting? – following the abortion, I plastered a smile on my face and pretended life was great. Everyone, including my friends and family, thought we were the perfect family living the good life: prosperous, stable, loving and happy. The Great Pretender, I despised my deceptive self. How could life get any worse?

Never ask that question; the ride can always worsen. Two things kept me from suicide: my children and my faith in God. Surely, He had something better in store for me, and at age forty-two, I was eager to learn of His plans. What did He want me to do? I needed a sign, damn it! I went to counseling sessions with my pastor, which led to three years of counseling with a clinical psychologist – one year of whining, one year of soul-searching and one year of indecision – before I gained the courage to make a change. Hubby refused to accompany me to the sessions. He told me he was happy. I had a problem, so I had to resolve it.

Resolve it I did! With the resolution came knowledge and power – education and autonomy. I’ve never looked back or wanted to go back. Now, after twenty years, one month, and eleven days – but who’s counting? – I’m happy.

From a distance, a roller coaster seems massive and indestructible. Up close, it’s fragile and vulnerable. A few loose screws or one stressed piece of metal can topple the giant structure, yet we ride anyway. We take the risk that this ride will be better than the previous one. So is life fragile. We’re vulnerable, yet today we risk living to the fullest with no assurance tomorrow will be better.

On my life roller coaster, God saved the best years for the youth of my old age. No matter what comes afterward, I will treasure these early years of retirement as some of the most exciting of my life. Each day I ponder: What can I do today to enhance my wisdom, delight my imagination or help others? Any of these could be another wild ride. Thank God for saving the best until last and for the blessing of exhilarating rides!

About this writer

  • Susan Harvey Susan Harvey is a humor writer who teaches college English. She lives in Murrells Inlet, and in her spare time enjoys cooking and reading mysteries.

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