Died From Not Forwarding That Email

I just read on the internet that opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck on ALL the people in the building.  What?  That’s not what I was taught.  I was told that misfortune would rain on me. No one mentioned that I would also bring a life of hellish misery upon an entire building full of people.  Sorry, world, if my obsession with umbrella mechanisms ruined your life forever.

My superstitious portfolio knows the drill:  always pick up a penny on the ground, say “God Bless You” when someone sneezes, and bad luck comes in threes.  Friday the 13th is probably the event that still give me a little of the heebie-jeebies, as it’s that fateful day in the third grade when I broke my arm.  My mom, always the realist, had a different spin on the story.  She said I broke my arm because I shoved a boy twice my size and it had nothing to do with the number 13.  Doug had bullied me long enough.  That day I did have my magic shield to protect me, so shoving the giant was not unreasonable.  My ‘magic shield’ was the round melamine plate on which cupcakes were served to the class-by-day and but transformed into a Spartan Warrior shield-by-afternoon.  But as luck would have it, my mom was firmly planted in our front yard watching me come home from school and witnessed her 5′ tall middle child push a 200 lb. 6′ fourth grader.  The sheer power of my Superwoman shove did cause Doug to shift from foot to foot, but then he sent me flying, palms down, into the neighbor’s yard.  Oh, the sound of breaking bones.

By the time I got to the front yard, Mom was livid.    Girls don’t push boys.  And girls don’t push boys twice their size. I’m sure “Act like a lady” spewed into the conversation…well, not really a conversation when Mom is doing all the talking.

Sweet Jesus…not such a lucky day for me.

I’m not the only one that shudders a little at 13.  The blog “Itty Bitty Witty” informs us that Mayo Clinic, In Rochester, Minnesota has no 13th floor.  Blog author Dan writes:

This is not unique to the Mayo Clinic.  Right you are, and therein lies one of the most ridiculous things one could ever imagine.  Because some of us humans are just gullible enough to believe in superstitions, NONE of us gets a 13th floor in the building.

Fast forward to 2004.  My daughter was diagnosed with adrenal cancer, the chances of which are one-in-a-million.  That’s like the “Hunger Games” of cancer where Megan’s number was drawn as Tribute and we all watched her fight for her life on the big screen.  We needed the odds ‘ever in our favor.’

And then the emails would roll in.

If you forward this to 10 people in 6 minutes, your prayers will be answered tomorrow.

In fleeting seconds I would think,

What if this would work?  Do I have 10 friends I can bombard?  I’d try anything to save my girl.  I only get six minutes to respond to receive the blessing?  But I need to go with Megan down to radiology, and I won’t be back for 30 minutes…so I should have read that email 10 minutes sooner.

And then I would stop myself, realizing that these messages played into my deepest fears.  Regarding superstition, Web MD writes:

Wanting more control or certainty is the driving force behind most superstitions. We tend to look for some kind of a rule, or an explanation for why things happen.

When your loved one has cancer, more than anything you want an explanation, a rule, or a law that will automatically fix it.  To date, I don’t believe chain-mail has cured cancer.  My broken wrist was not at the hands of Friday the 13th, nor was Megan’s future in the hands of Yahoo’s email forwarding capabilities.  If you have a friend that is pressed on every side, remember chain-mail eats up valuable caregiver time.  “Let’s grab something to eat” and one-to-one human contact may be the real miracle their day needs.

Key Notes:

  • Megan’s food was provided by the hospital.  Mine was not.  When my friends said, “What can we do to help?” I should have said, “Can we grab lunch in the cafeteria?”  I ate alone too often.
  • Most chain letters put responsibility on the recipient.  “If you send,” “If you forward,” then this will happen.  I didn’t need to be told one more thing to do.
  • By forwarding emails, you risk exposing email IDs of your friends and relatives to third parties.

On A Lighter Note:

  • Your odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 175 million.
  • Leave the superstition to Stevie Wonder.









An umbrella, according to popular superstition, should never be open indoors or you will bring bad luck on all the people residing in the building. It is thought that this superstition originates back when the purpose of the umbrella was to act as a sunshade. If opened indoors the action may be construed as a direct insult to the sun, which was revered in many societies.

Umbrellas also have other superstitions attached to them, most often those that bring bad luck.

  • It is bad luck to give an umbrella as a gift.
  • If you drop an umbrella, do not pick it up. Instead, have someone else do it for you, or you will be the recipient of bad luck.
  • If a single woman drops an umbrella, she will never marry.
  • If an umbrella is opened outside when it is not needed, rain, and other bad weather, will follow.

Another variation on the superstition is that if rain is predicted on a given day, take an umbrella with you and it will not rain.  And if you leave the umbrella behind, it will definitely rain.

On a lighter note

I pick up a penny when I see it.  “See a pin, pick it up/ and all day long you’ll have good luck/ See a pin, let it lay/ and your luck will pass away.”

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  1. Val – great blog! FYI – I NEVER forward anything that comes to me with a threat just out of principal. Guess I like to live life dangerously 🙂

    Thanks for all you do to help others get through it.

    1. That is a really great point…don’t forward anything that comes with a threat! 🙂

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain

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