Anything can happen.

I remember my daughter telling me this. It was after the apartment next to hers in Palm Springs blew up in the middle of the night. She’d been in her new place just a few days, unwittingly moving next door to a meth lab. So it blew up and there was fire and fire trucks and her escape from harm and her call from a phone booth across the street from her apartment.

It was three in the morning when the phone rang. It rang and rang out in the hallway of our old beach house on Lake Superior. It was a phone that sat on a tiny table, the way phones used to do when they functioned as family anchors. I got out of bed, searching for a light I didn’t need, wasting time. Stalling. No one calls at three in the morning to sell you cookies. Someone had probably died. The only question was who. I was shivering with fear and not wanting to know.

After she finished telling me the story of the explosion and fire was the first time I heard her say “Anything can happen.”

We knew that, of course. Who doesn’t know that things happen to people that they don’t expect? Still, it came as a revelation. It wasn’t “Anything can happen,” the way people shrug and smile at flat tires or winning playing the lottery. It was “Anything can happen,” as in her apartment could have blown up along with the neighbors’ and someone else wearing a uniform and many belts would be calling. They’d be reading my phone number from the information in my daughter’s purse, holding her wallet like a piece of evidence.

This past week, two of my friends, a mother and a grandmother, lost their beloved son and grandson. His death was not expected and is tragic beyond description. He was smiling and handsome one day and gone the next.

In Brussels, dozens of people lost their lives and more were terribly injured while they waited around unsuspecting in an airport. Tonight’s news showed film of a toddler sitting on the floor amidst blown-up airport chairs crying for her mother who, the newscaster said, was presumed dead.

Anything can happen.

I think living is dangerous. That there can be such random harm done to people, that survivors can face such calamitous loss, that life is such a minefield that we all try to pick our way through as if where we put our thin sneakers next will protect us from blowing up, is fearsome and wilting.

All of this doesn’t make me feel lucky for not having been hit yet. It doesn’t tell me that life is precious and I need to live every day to the fullest. It simply tells me that life is untrustworthy and the tally of my good intentions and sometimes good deeds will not put me in the safe column. Nothing I do or say or believe will help me relax into life as if it will hold me afloat across a raging river.

To be alive at all is to live dangerously every single minute.

Anything can happen.