It Comes In Threes

Why do they say that? It comes in threes. The bad things. The things you don’t want to come. Ever.

Some people have this all knowing air about them when they say it, nodding their heads slowly like a well meaning teacher. It’s as if they are just walking around being the clairvoyant to the masses or something.

I’ve always questioned the comes in threes things. Who was it that said if one bad thing happens another two have to follow? It better have been someone really important, otherwise I’m just going to stick my fingers in my ears and do that really annoying thing where people go: I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.

I get the power of the three, I really do. The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. Tom, Dick and Harry. The Three Musketeers. Crosby, Stills and Nash. Bananarama.

But I don’t get three as a portent of doom.

I had three bad things happen this week and after the first one happened several people told me to brace myself for the next two even though they had no idea what the next two would be. They were so convinced of the next two that I began to believe in them myself and the entire week turned into one messy, horrible self-fulfilling prophecy.

I look after baby birds. There are a lot of them around here who fall out of nests, lose their way, become ill or sustain an injury of some kind. For about two weeks I have been looking after a baby pigeon who had injured his wing. I had splinted the wing and he was just learning how to fly. I was really pleased with his progress but on Monday morning as he flew up to the closest branch in the jacaranda two magpies descended from nowhere and viciously attacked him. It was one of the most horrendous things I have ever witnessed because they literally ripped at his poor little body. I was screaming and throwing things but they were a good two metres above me so I couldn’t reach them. My poor little Sore Wing fell to the ground, a bloody mess. They had ripped out his throat. I didn’t know what to do. I rang a couple of vets and they said they would not treat a wild pigeon, that I should just let him die. I wrapped little Sore Wing in a blanket and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. He died an hour later.

That was the first thing.

Lately I have been seeing a little white cat in the laneway behind my house. He is quite young, just out of kitten-hood, and very proud of his handsome white coat. He is a very friendly little guy but was worrying me because he is not road savvy at all. Although the laneway is generally quiet there are a couple of local hoons who drive up there like maniacs. They’ve almost hit me a couple of times and I know a lot of people have complained about them to the police.

On Monday night I got the strangest feeling. I felt cold and shivery and I had this urgent need to go out to the back of the house. I opened the door to the laneway and there he was. The little white cat. He’d been hit by a car. He was dead. I couldn’t believe it because I had seen him two or three hours before and he was completely fine. But he’d been hit. And just left there. He had a name tag – turned out his name was Jimmy – with a phone number. I put him in a cardboard box, dialled the number and took him home.

Jimmy belonged to a lady up the road named Marianne. He was just out of kitten-hood. She was having trouble reining in his wandering ways. She had a photo of him on the cabinet in the kitchen. She was devastated he had been hit by a car and just left there.

Why do people do that? she asked.

Because they are shits, I replied.

That was the second thing.

After a very emotional, weary day I noticed my oldest goldfish, Blue, who I have had for five years, wasn’t looking too good. Red streaks in the fins, listless, having difficulty swimming. Illness in fish can come on very quickly. I changed the water, added some medication and felt that blue would be fine. He’s an old campaigner, tough as they come.

Blue died this morning. I am in shock about it. He was such a dear friend to me. Losing him was the third thing and it has kind of freaked me out. I am shaking slightly because I feel like some invisible force has been unleashed that is challenging me to believe the unbelievable.

It comes in threes. That is a frightening way to live. I am partly hoping that something else happens – please God, not a death- which definitively proves that the number three does not contain the power it seems to.

I can’t live with the threat of the three hanging over me – I am superstitious and anxiety-ridden enough – so I am hoping the three things were just coincidence.

Oh yeah, and denial is also a river in Egypt.

28 thoughts on “It Comes In Threes

  1. Oh My Goodness Selma!!! This is just TERRIBLE news. Three precious animals. Ugh. Im sooo sorry for your losses, and I would have been traumatized if I had to witness such a horrific way for that little birdie to die.

    Why can’t GOOD things come in THREES.


  2. Aw Selma I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a rough week. And I’m glad you wrote about it because now you’re going to get lots more support from all over and hopefully it will help lift you from the funk.

    I believe in magic. I know it exists. But I just can’t wrap my understanding of it around “rules” like “if a black cat crosses your path you’ll have bad luck” or “bad things happen in threes.” Magic is about energies and rhythms and forces. If magic could be applied to rules that dictate when bad and good things happen, then we’d have figured out a way to control it.

    You’ve had a rotten patch Selma. Hang in there. I’m rooting for you. Watch – lots of others will be too – all those good wishes will be rolling along toward you in a big way. xo


  3. Hi MELEAH:
    It was just unbelievable. At first I thought I was dreaming. I agree – only GOOD things should come in threes!

    Aww, thanks hon! You are so right. Rules don’t apply when it comes to those types of things. It’s just not possible – or logical. Hearing you put it like that makes me feel relieved!


  4. Oh dear – not a good week. Those magpies and butcher birds can be a bit much to take (we have to be careful with the finches because they can get there beaks through a normal cage and rip the heads of the finches. But that is what the meat eaters do and that is why it is best not to feed meat eater birds). Hope things are on the up and up soon for you Selma.


  5. Sorry to hear about the bad run.

    I had a stats professor tell me in unscientific terms that stuff(well he used another term) clusters–you then are due some good happenings.


  6. I’ve been wondering how you are Sel, missed a post here yesterday. I am so sorry for all the sadness you experienced in the past few days. When it comes to animals suffering, it doesn’t get much worse in terms of “bad things”. It hurts me so badly to witness or read about any kind of animal cruelty or suffering. I am haunted by it for weeks afterwards, sometimes forever.

    I don’t like the “threes” comments either. Where do these ideas originate? Probably a gazillion or so years ago, someone wrote a story about 3 bad events, and it just stuck.

    I wish you 3 wonderful things/events for the coming week Sel. How’s that for a good wish?

    Many hugs, G


    We all have those weeks from time to time, don’t we? I know the magpies were just doing what they do but it was hard to watch. I’m sure the birds feel the same way about some of the things they see us humans do.

    That is terrible about the little finches. I hope it doesn’t ever happen again to your dear ones.

    I hope so. I need some good stuff to come through.

    We must have had the same stats professor because I remember that too. What intrigues me is why these things happen in clusters. It’s almost as if they are suddenly unleashed. Lookin’ forward to the good cluster!!

    I just can’t cope with animal suffering these days. It bothers me a lot. Thank you for your lovely wish. I hope it comes true for both of us!


  8. I know how much you love animals Sel so I can only imagine how upset you are feeling at the moment.

    Not long ago I found one of those pigeons with the little thing on it’s head (don’t know what they are called) and it appeared to be dead. As I got closer I realised it was either very hurt or extremely sick as it couldn’t move. It was being eaten alive by bull ants so I picked it up gently with a shovel as I didn’t want to hurt it and put it on top of a pile of grass cuttings etc. I knew it would die very soon.

    An hour later I checked on it and it was still alive with more ants on it. I knew I had to try and put it out of it’s misery but God it was hard. I tried to hit it with the shovel but I couldn’t do it and it actually tried to dive under the grass cuttings to get away. In the end I got my husband to do the deed.

    It haunted me for days afterwards. Sometimes even doing the right thing can feel very wrong.

    I hope you now experience many good things in a row. I think you’re due some good luck.


  9. Hmmm. 3’s… A lot can be written on that topic. Sulphur, Salt, and Mercury… Etc…I am truly sorry for the events that have befallen you . But perhaps the universe must have 3 bad things happen in order to maintain the balance . They are required to balance out the one good and great thing that will soon occur in your life : )

    I actually had 3 good things happen to me today , and I would have never thought the day would turn out the way it dd. I was actually in an ambulance on the way to the E-Room…But all is good and well in the world on my side of the pond … … …



  10. Terrible to hear about the animals death. I don’t like it when I even hear about a kitten, cat or pup getting run over. There was this little kitten near my house who used to come and rub his face on my shoe on the streets. I saw him/her for a week and was just about getting attached to it and thinking about taking it home. Then I didn’t see it for a few days and the next thing I know, I see it’s lifeless body lying to the side of the road on the grass.

    Inspite of disturbing events and writing it down on the post, I’m amazed that you can still make me laugh:
    Power of 3, I get all of them but……..friggin Bananarama?????? OMG!

    And denial is also a river in Egypt. LOL, that did bring a smile to my moody & upset face!!


  11. Sorry about your terrible week, Selma. I think it’s a bit of mental contortionism. You must see things differently. I usually have bad things happen in threes but I’m always happy for number 3 since when I am finished, I get a huge patch of good luck. It always works that way. I sort of hold my breath for 2 and 3 and then I get a big exhale. Now comes your exhale, piles of good things on the way.


  12. So sorry to hear about your horrid week. I do some volunteer work for the Bahrain Society for the Protection of Animals and the state some of the animals come in in is just disgusting and inhuman. As you put it, people can be real shits.
    But it’s wonderful for the animals that animal lovers like you exist and try to help wherever you can. You should be proud.
    A photo tag for you over at mine if you are interested.
    Kate x


  13. PS: Thank you SO much for including me in your fav posts of the week list.:) I am honored. What a great idea too. I’m going to check out some of the other posts on your list.

    Hugs and Happy Weekend, G


  14. I don’t believe in threes. It doesn’t happen that way for me. For me it’s twos. It used to be threes, but then I decided a long time ago I could learn the lesson in two. So anytime something is repeated, I go buy the book, or pay attention and think, “Wow – they were connected that way. Well, I’m glad they had a partner….” or whatever, and it seems to have worked. I wish I could get it down to one, but my brain seems to need that extra boost to recognize the clue to whatever it is I’m supposed to learn, or give, or serve, etc.

    Hope you’ve had some great days since this post! 🙂


  15. *Hugs*

    I’m sorry you’ve had these three bad experiences in short succession, but I don’t believe that bad things happen in threes. It’s just the way it happened.


  16. How terrible, Selma. I am so sorry you have had to live through that. The pigeon attack sounds especially horrible and traumatic. Many, many hugs to you.


  17. Sorry to hear about your experience Selma. Sometimes, when events are outside of our control, and bad things happen to the wrong people (or animals), we feel powerless, and impotent. We have difficulty in understanding why things happen the way that they do, and we even see patterns in them, even though they are all random events. They say that the more you care, the more it hurts. I know that you care a lot, and that makes it so much harder when life deals you three consecutive, emotionally draining events.
    I don’t know why things like that happen, and while it would be difficult to see anything positive after so much negative, all I can ask of you is to try. Life is about balance – good and bad. Without one, there is no balance, just nothingness. We go through bad things in life, and because of those, we cherish the good times that much more. When we fall after being in a good place, we feel worse because we know how good things were, and that just makes the bad times that much worse. The only thing that we can do, is to always try and look forward. We learn from our past, we live in the present, and we look to our future. We don’t focus on just one, but adjust our lives to encompass each of them.
    Having said all that, I am hoping that the next post from you will speak of a marvelous event. A breathtaking sunset, the smile on the face of a child, the smell of a bakery when it opens in the morning – something that fills your heart with pleasure, happiness and a sense of peace. It is out there – just waiting for you to experience it Selma – just keep your eyes, ears and nostrils open!!
    Oh, and I loved the way you ended your post – something that made me laugh! In order to reciprocate, and also because I am unbelievably verbose, here is something that I hope will make you smile:

    Two young doctors are trying to chat up the new hospital receptionist. They decide to diagnose the next patient that walks in the door and then asking them to disclose the exact nature of their ailment. So as they watch, a middle aged man walks in, and he seems to be walking a little….funny.
    The first doctor takes a look and says “Oh, look at the way that he walks – it is obvious to a highly trained professional like myself that he is walking funny because he has a hernia!”.
    Hearing this, the second doctor chuckled and said “My friend, I believe you are mistaken – this is obviously a textbook example of a slipped disc – he has come in for traction – that’s what he is walking that way!”
    In order to settle the bet, when the man reaches the admissions desk, the receptionist explains to him that both of the doctors were trying to diagnose him, and wanted to ask if he would tell them which one got the diagnosis right.
    The man looks at the first doctor and says ” So you thought that I had a hernia – you were wrong!”
    He then turns to the smiling second doctor and says “You thought that I had a slipped disc – you were wrong!”
    He looks at all of them and says “I thought hat I was going to fart – I was wrong!”


  18. Hi Selma, I’m sorry to hear of your recent misfortunes and I hope you’re feeling better.

    I’m pretty sure that the idea of bad things happening in threes comes from the Book of Job wherein Job’s faith is tested in three ways:
    1) he loses all his possessions. 2) His children die 3) He is covered in sore and boils from head to toe.



  19. Wow, Manoj Nair what a great comment. I totally agree that we impose patterns on arbitrary events to make meaning when there is none. It is human nature, like seeing pictures in the clouds.


  20. Once again, my apologies for such a late reply to your wonderful comments. I value every one you leave – please don’t ever think I don’t. XXX

    Hi GYPSY:
    Oh, you poor thing. That would have been such a stressful thing to go through. I agree that sometimes trying to help can be an awful experience. The little pidgy would have known you cared, though – they always do.

    Oh my God. I hope you are OK. Emergency room? That is scary. It just shows you that you never know what lies around the corner. Thank goodness you are OK. Whew.

    Hi ROSHAN:
    I’m sorry to hear about the little kitty. Those things are always sad to see.
    But hail to the power of Banarama –
    ‘He used to be a shy boy
    until I made him my boy…’

    Hi LAURI:
    I like how you look at it. When you get to the third thing you know it’s over. Your perspective is always a refreshing one. Thank you.

    My absolute pleasure. That poem was one of your best!

    Hi JASON:
    They don’t write lyrics these anymore –
    ‘Robert De Niro’s waiting
    Talking Italian…’
    Banarama have a power all of their own.

    Hi TEX:
    I appreciate your point of view regarding lessons we can learn even from bad experiences. You may not realise but you have often helped me from being too mad at the world. I am grateful.

    Hi DAOINE:
    Looking back, I think you’re right. I think what unnerved me the most was people saying :’ Bad things happen in threes.’ I didn’t realise people in my neighbourhood were so superstitious.


  21. Hi INGRID:
    I’m OK now but it shook me up at the time and I do acknowledge that in the wild these things happen. It truly is a jungle out there. Thanks for your concern.

    Hi MANOJ:
    You are a wise, wonderful, warm, benevolent person. Yours is one of the best comments I have received. EVER. I can’t thank you enough. I feel quite teary. XXXX

    Hi DAVID:
    Thanks a lot, Job. Way to set a precedent for centuries afterwards. I suspected there might be a biblical reference. You are such a fantastic researcher, David. I always appreciate the effort you go to. Thank you.

    I still can’t get over Manoj’s comment. I am blown away by it. And I agree about the imposition of patterns. Definitely a human trait.


  22. PSS: I forgot to mention, I sent you an email last week, hope it got to you.

    And I hope all is well with you, it’s been a few days since you’ve posted. Miss you! Sending good vibes your way.

    Take care and hugs, G


  23. Selma, hi–I’m “catching up” and going to go back a few months,andread you in “order”.
    I love that you invoked The Trinity, AND Bananarama! Quite clever,my dear!
    I’ve been Facebooking relentlessly,but missed blogging(and reading blogs!) terribly…
    so here I am.
    If you DO Facebook, Selma, do “Friend” me:
    “Lisa Nanette Allender”.
    Peace & Blessings to you.
    Now, back to reading more “Selma in the City”(Congrats on your recent awards, too!)


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