The car was silent except for the low hum of the motor, the stillness of our western, suburban neighborhood enveloping our little family on a warmer than usual Sunday afternoon. Lawson and I shared a pinkie grasp, talking quietly to one another and sharing gazes that only a Mother and son can do that makes all the world feel right. Daddy’s up front, staring softly into the intersection, humming along to the latest pop song that sang lightly out of the 4Runner’s speakers up front. It was the kind of Sunday you dreamed of – full of nature’s finest moments, a romp in the park with the family and just the right amount of time in the fresh air that made one feel like his/her authentic self again.
Sharing a loving glance with Mike in the rearview, we spoke to each other through our eyes, the sides crinkling and marveling at our amazing son, the stillness of the day and relishing in the moment. Our moment was shattered when the ear-piercing screech of tires, metal scraping along cement and hard crashes filled with just the right amount of white space to indicate a rollover crash flooded our once peaceful environment. Cursing, I watched as Mike’s knuckles turned paler, his face soon to follow as it drained from the reality of what was happening right in front of us. There, in the middle of what most days felt like nowhere, a car-on-car massacre was occurring, a large SUV rolling and tumbling like a piece of trash tossed into the highway wind. Unable to peel our eyes from the emotion and impact of what was happening, our mouths hung open in horror, our hearts leaping out of our chest and our call to a higher power overwhelming taking over. Moments passed, 911 was dialed, bodies streamed out of cars rushing to assist as airbags deployed, glass falling like confetti among the broken metal and shrouds of grass kicked up by the crash. It was unreal. Surreal. A matter of moments. Going no more than 10 miles per hour.
As the shriek of sirens filled the intersection and thumbs up signs were given by strangers who had leaped out to lend a hand, check on the driver and do the right thing, I finally began to feel air fill my lungs again. Though my heart never caught up until late that evening, I paused to recognize my basic bodily functions begin flowing as they were intended to do. And with this came the tears – the tears that indicated life is short. Tears that reminded me that every moment is precious, and the next filled with so many “I don’t knows.” Tears that very quickly identified what was important to me in life and brought to existence the reality of someday I may have to cope without them. Tears that meant every moment should feel this way – that it’s sickening to have to witness such a tragic event to break into the walls and monotony of life to remind us that today, right now, we are really living. This is it. Today. This moment. Love it. Live it. Cherish it. Nothing else matters. Red light or green light – count life’s blessings tonight.
Embrace life. Always wear your seat belt. And by the way – consider taking Oprah’s no phone zone challenge too. It just might help you at your next red light, green light awakening.