The Lottery Of LifeWalking to the mailbox one last time, Sophie, a charismatic and compassionate mother, inhaled the sweet air and remembered the charming weather she and Jackson had experienced on their wedding day. Today, Sophie wasn’t giddy or excited, but anxious and disheartened; today was the day of the move.
Ever since Jackson died, Sophie had struggled to provide for her daughter and son while keeping up with the financing of a large house. By no means was her family poor, but it was struggling. Such a large house in an affluent town meant high taxes, and as a widowed mother Sophie could no longer pay the bills with ease as the family had when Jackson was around. She realized that the plans she and Jackson had of filling the house with children were long behind them. It was finally necessary to downsize and move to a less expensive area.
Sophie was upset at the idea of selling the house; it was only six years ago, but it seemed like an eternity had past since Sophie and her husband had bought it. A hard working surgeon, Jackson was the kind of guy every woman dreamt of marrying. He was devoted, sensitive, intelligent, and funny. He was the type who would discreetly and without judgment drop money on the ground when he was at the supermarket if he saw someone struggling to pay and insist that the person short of money had dropped it. Sophie just could not get enough of him and he could not get enough of her. For the first two years of their marriage, Sophie and Jackson lived together in their dream house. Sophie, pregnant with their second child, was visiting her family with her son when the incident happened.
Jackson had four scheduled surgeries, so he did not accompany his family on the trip. The night before his final surgery, Jackson was in a head-on car accident and was killed instantly.
Beyond devastated, Sophie could not take her mind off her late husband. She felt guilty if she enjoyed herself, and questioned her ability to parent. She regretted all the mean things she had said to him and all the opportunities he had missed out on, but most importantly, she regretted not having the chance to say good-bye.
Surrounded by boxes placed on the thinning mats, Sophie, her daughter April, and son Michael sat in the old station wagon. Sophie looked up at her fondest memory of Jackson, a tall, yellow house with a white wrap around porch held up around the second floor with Roman style pillars. Flowers were blooming in the window boxes, but the grass that had at one time been perfectly manicured, was now overgrown and dry.
To avoid upsetting April and Michael, Sophie quickly wiped the tears from her evenly powdered face and sifted through the mail, putting aside all the overdue bills, one from the credit card company, another from the electric company, and a third from the oil company. Under all the bills was an advertisement from a pool maintenance company and an unfamiliar envelope addressed to Sophie from the Connecticut State Lottery.
Sophie was curious about what the envelope contained; she vaguely remembered purchasing a lottery ticket while she was in college, but that was 9 years ago. Sophie casually opened the envelope with no expectations. To her delight and confusion, Sophie pulled out a letter reading:
Congratulations! Mrs. Sophie Hothman,
The lottery ticket purchased for you by Jackson Hothman,
Matched the lottery numbers pulled this week.
Your total winnings are $900,000.
Please claim your money by calling 1 800 CT LOTO.
Still confused about when she received a lottery ticket and more confused as to how she could have forgotten about it, Sophie pulled out the tattered box containing all the cards from preceding special occasions. Searching through all her anniversary cards, she finally came across the ticket. Sure enough Jackson had purchased Sophie a five year lottery ticket four years ago on their second wedding anniversary. She opened the unfamiliar white card with a red rose on the front. Inside Jackson had written a short note:
The past year has been the best year of my life. We have experienced so much together and I feel like meeting you has completed my life. I know we would do anything for each other and I love you unconditionally. I know you will be an amazing mother.
Thanks for being you, the woman I’m crazy about!
Sophie burst into tears after reading this, except this time she didn’t try to hide it from April and Michael; she embraced the moment, let her tears run freely, and held the card next to her heart. Sophie felt new warmth surrounding her and her children. Smelling the long-desired fragrance of Jackson, she knew he was with them sharing this moment. And she knew he would always be with her, helping her parent April and Michael.
Sophie kissed April on the cheek and then turned to kiss Michael on the forehead. She looked down at his aquiline nose and rosy cheeks; Jackson’s features were more evident in Michael then ever before.
Sophie gently tucked the letter back into the envelope and placed it in the worn-out box. She sat back in the driver’s seat, adjusted the rear-view mirror to ensure that April and Michael were buckled in and smiled when she caught their eyes. Sophie knew they always had a special angel watching over them, they would never have to say good-bye.
Sophie put the car in reverse and headed down the long driveway. Just when she reached the end, Sophie stopped, gathered all the mail, rolled down her window and placed it into the garbage can. As she lost sight of the house she whispered:
“Everyone gets their fair chance at life’s lottery, I have already won the lottery of life in meeting Jackson, and I need not win again.”