My pops used to always say, “If God spare our lives” at the end of any late night conversation we shared where one of us was heading to bed. It would be preempted by a mention of something either one of us wanted to do the next day. He would say this religiously, no pun intended, almost every night since I became old enough to remember. If God Spare became his goodnight to me, whether it was over the phone or in person.
I used to question why he uttered a phrase that seemed so inadequate to our present situation. Of course God would spare our lives. Why would he not? We hadn’t done anything evil and although there was a period of time where we didn’t take the best care of ourselves, we had functioning lungs and hearts and other insides that almost guaranteed the next morning’s rise and shine. God didn’t even need to worry about sparring us.
Pops always knew things I didn’t. He was born and bred in the back country of Jamaica. Knowing how to herd farm animals and fend for himself at an age where I was just learning how to walk home from school on my own. When I reluctantly sat by myself at the dinner table, visibly frustrated with having to finish my plate of well done pork chops and green beans, he told me about his childhood, growing alongside twelve brothers and sisters, where “anything tan too long, serve nedda master.” When I later asked my aunt what the heck that meant, she told me to finish my food regardless of how it tasted. I wondered how she innately knew that I wasn’t particularly fond of green beans.
God did spare us for a long enough time. Long enough that I started to understand why he asked Him to do so every single night. So many things happened in between my disdain for bowling and my distaste for certain vegetables and my father and my functioning lungs and hearts and insides that I wished I started asking Him earlier to spare us. And asking Him more seriously. I understand that the next morning’s rise and shine isn’t completely guaranteed.
Pops taught me so many lessons. He did so opaquely. Through stories. And for the longest time I assumed that I got all my writerly sense from my proof reading book reading mother. I know different now. Pops learned me through grande stories and short sentences. Words that took you underneath deep deep waters. Understanding that you could only fully realize after you went to sleep and woke up and repeated that rhythm many many times over without giving thanks. I know now. I’m thankful now. I hope God spare my life too.