I prayed thanks for us and I prayed for strength for the people involved, because I didn't want to be vain and greedy and take all the praying for myself, I didn't want to be selfish and just glad it wasn't us and not stop to admit the horrible truth that the unlucky will live with. The people in those trucks and their families, there is a ripple effect to tragedy that none of us even stop to think about until it happens to us. I thought about the phone calls that were made and the unknowning people on the other end who innocently answered hello? like we all do a million times in our life, but this time the voice on the other end isn't calling to just say "hi" or sell us something and a heart skips a beat while the throat tightens.
I thought about how life changes on a dime. In a second. In a beat of a heart. A flash of the eyes.
From the vantage point of the passenger seat of our big red van I saw more people driving and texting than I ever thought possible. The slow lane doing under the speed limit, the fast lane going over the speed limit, young, old, man, woman...it didn't matter - they texted...and it was unsafe, and unfair to everyone else, and dangerous, and stupid and selfish...and frankly - it makes you an asshole.
Miles later a semi truck almost swerves into a car, later another car attempts its own pass into an unclear lane. Man, the road is dangerous today.
There's a car I mumbled out. In hindsight it was the most useless of words that I could have ever mustered out of my mouth. Of course there was a car....we were, afterall, on a freeway, there were lots and lots of cars. But what my eyes saw and my mind could not make any sense of and relay to the driver was that there was a car that had just entered the freeway via the offramp and was now driving, head on, into traffic, towards us.
Stop. Stop. I said, pointing, bracing myself, knowing that there wasn't the seconds or the road space needed to ever stop in time. Knowing that to our right was a semi truck and just ahead to our left the car in front of us veered off to the shoulder. We were boxed in. There was no place to go. No room to stop. There were only the seconds that ticked off like slow, painful minutes between us and that little red car, and it had just centered itself straight down the middle line towards us and headed forward.
My life didn't flash in front of me like other people say it does in situations like that. There really was nothing but the waiting for impact. A complete sense of helplessness, powerlessness and disbelief that what is happening is actually taking place is what took over me. And we were feet, feet, from making that impact when David swerved right, semi truck or not, and then.....there was nothing. The trucker hit his breaks, pulled off onto the shoulder enough to allow space....I have idea. I didn't look back. I looked forward, straight out the window like I had been, but there was just the freeway and all the miles before us like nothing had ever even happened. And just as shocked to see a car driving head-on into traffic, my mind was just as shocked that we were still driving, that there was no impact. The tears came before my breath and once I had a thought it was:
I'm so happy to be alive.
It was one of those series of seconds that makes a person, again, realize how little anything in this world really matters. How being alive, while imperfect, often really is enough when we strip away all the bullshit and get right down to it, or it should be, or could be - if we would let it.