Life is About Luck

By Leslie Gattmann

One needs only to look at the families lost in the Holocaust to recognize how luck is paramount. My mother’s family escaped Germany on the last ship — as she describes it - before Kristallnacht. Cousins, aunts, and uncles were lost, all of them kind and observant Jews. It was luck and foresight that saved my mother and her immediate family.

Some families carry tragedies heavily on their backs, some families less so. My first husband was plagued by health problems. In the midst of preparing our daughter for her bat mitzvah — after spending six months reading Torah with her and chanting blessings — he collapsed and died in front of her and our 7-year-old son. He was such a loving, attentive father, passing on Jewish traditions. I was left without any explanation to give my children as to why such a righteous person would die. At 45 years old, his luck ran out; he certainly did not merit this end.

We can always find those we believe to be luckier than ourselves, and those less fortunate. I believe life is totally about luck, and the great creative challenge is how to turn away from bitterness in the face of loss, how to create a life that is meaningful and affirming.

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