Sometimes as I’m going about my business, I suddenly get this eerie feeling . . . it’s hard to describe in words, but if I had to try, I would say it’s a “what if?” feeling. Morbid images flit through my mind for a few seconds of the freak, random things that can happen to anybody, changing everything in an instant. We’ve all, no doubt, experienced these very events. Something happens – unexpected bad news, an accident, even harsh words spoken that leave an indelible imprint on a relationship – and you suddenly wish for a redo; you replay the events in your mind, picturing yourself getting out of bed that very morning, blissfully ignorant of what was to come later in the day.
As I was driving Finn and Lilah to a doctor appointment for Finn this morning, I witnessed just such an event. I pulled up to an intersection near my house. There was one car ahead of me, so I didn’t have a completely unobstructed view of the intersection. I was lost in my own thoughts and suddenly I heard the squeal of brakes and that heavy yet surprisingly hollow sound of one car crashing into another. I looked up a fraction of a second after impact, so I didn’t see exactly what happened, but from the angles of the two cars involved, it looked like one of them ran a red light. It looked pretty bad; one of the cars – a minivan – looked totaled – the entire front end was smashed in. A young asian woman jumped out of the minivan and proceeded to freak out, crying and jumping up and down in semi-hysteria. There appeared to be at least two people in the other car, and neither were emerging. The intersection is right in front of the community college, and within seconds, college students flocked to the scene, checking on the passengers of the vehicles, trying to calm the hysterical woman, and calling for help on their cell phones. Police and an ambulance were there so quickly, it was almost as if they had been waiting around the corner for this to happen.
The light turned green and we proceeded carefully around the wreckage and through the intersection. I rolled my window down and asked one of the college students if everyone was okay, and he said he thought so, yes. I was so shaken by the whole thing that my hands were shaking.
In an instant, those people’s lives have changed. Even if they are okay, there are obvious aftereffects. And they had no idea when they got up this morning that later in the day, that was going to happen.
Makes you think.