Two days ago, my husband and I came within inches of being broadsided by a car who ran a red light. It happened just down the street, at the intersection of Northwest 8th and Walker, within easy walking distance of our house. It’s ironic that I’m always more alert for driving mishaps on the freeway; but when I let down my protective guard so close to home, we almost get nailed in the crossroads of a sleepy intersection.
I never saw the car coming until it zoomed in front of the nose of our car. Had we been a second earlier, had the other driver been a second later, had my husband not seen the car coming, had my husband not had such quick reflexes, had our car’s brakes not been so darn good, had the other car not been flying through the intersection so fast, well…. life would be very different. How different I do not know. But this I do know: I never saw the car coming until our car had screeched to a complete stop and the red car blurred across my vision. It was over in seconds. I didn’t even have time to be scared. The driver of the other car didn’t slow until half way up the next block.
Coming into the intersection, I had been chattering about something I can longer remember. Leaving the intersection, I had no more words. My husband and I didn’t bother to replay the scene on the way home, or anytime before bed or even yesterday or today; we had no desire to dissect it in post-mortem; instead, my husband voiced his thanks for good brakes, while I voiced thanks for a good driver.
Words become inconsequential when encountering eternity. Maybe this is why we stumble for words when we visit family or friends who have recently lost a loved one; or why earlier this year, I just kept silent when viewing the Grand Canyon; I wrote then to utter words would merely have been profane. Driving away unscathed from the intersection Sunday night was something akin to being around death or gazing upon natural wonders. Both rob you of words.
What else can I tell about this? To write anymore will shrink the experience. Words fail me mightily.
“It was over in seconds… I didn’t even have time to be scared…”
Isn’t that just the way? I’ve had a couple of those myself. Both were years ago – 20 and 25 respectively – and now they’re stories to be told, with ruffles and flourishes and amazed laughter. But then…? Not so much.
Glad you’re here to tell us you’re here.
Yes. And thank you. It’s good to be here.
But isn’t it a wonder that we fret and worry about what never happens. Then when something happens we don’t have time to fret or worry. It’s life in a nutshell.
And I’m glad – Mightty glad to tell the story in my own words.
I was so taken with your lastest essay that I am now a new subscriber to The New Yorker. Thank you very much.
Laure McCoy-Redd said:
Hugs to you, my friend, so glad that the 2 of you emerged from that event physically unscathed. I thought of your close call this morning as I sent my 2 sons out into the world to start their day. My oldest, who was on his way to his college classes, drove my youngest to his Italian class which is on the way to the college. This is the first time since we moved here that I have felt comfortable letting the eldest drive the youngest. Back in LJ ds1 drove ds2 to various places on a regular basis. Here, due to ds1’s injury and his months of physical therapy, he was not able to resume driving until about 8 months ago. It has taken me 8 months to feel secure with letting him drive ds2 anywhere, even though ds1 is a very cautious driver and even though he has been driving solo for several months since his physical therapist released him to drive again. Anyhow, you have been on my mind this morning because of your close call and I wanted to let you know.
Thank you Laure. I have felt hugged all week and not just by people — there’s nature, my dogs and of course God is in there too. Sometimes God is even at the top of my list.
Yes, seeing a son off is never easy. I watch Kyle get in his pickup and my eyes never leave him until I’ve lost sight of the pickup. I drink in his presence in case the unthinkable happens. We once had this tradition where I sent him off by blowing a kiss; Kyle would glance back just in time to catch my always misthrown kiss — as if he were a football receiver, Kyle would run like crazy, never letting his eye off my imaginary kiss until he would leap high in the air to make a fantastic Hail Mary catch. No matter what comes, this picutre of Kyle will forever live in my memory.
So what happened to son #1 that he was in rehab for 8 months? I’ve not heard, but am glad that he’s now well enough to drive.