I just finished my annual watching of Felicity (get on it. Totally worth breaking down and doing the Hulu subscription), and after a near-death experience, Noel ponders those moments when people are supposed to die, but they don’t. They’re tying their shoe when a bullet flies over their head or take a wrong turn and end up avoiding a fatal car crash. Which made me think–what about the people who aren’t supposed to be somewhere and then get caught in the crossfire?
You never hear those stories, probably because the victims aren’t there to tell them and those they leave behind are too heartbroken to do so.
I’ll spare you the photos that were snapped as my beloved car was scraped off the street and onto a flatbed two weeks ago. They’re not pretty, and they tend to remind me that a tenth of a second could have made all the difference. A tenth of a second either way–if I’d sat at my green light a tenth of a second longer before accelerating, the whole thing would have been brushed off as a close call. If I’d rolled forward a tenth of a second earlier, as the police were so kind to point out, the woman who blasted through a red light at fifty miles an hour could very well be charged with manslaughter (comforting, guys) (I shouldn’t be so mean; they were very nice).
I totaled a car last year, too–that one was my fault. I sneezed at a red light, my foot hit the gas, and I rear-ended the woman in front of me. The guilt was debilitating, for months, and I’m grateful daily that no one was hurt. There were buckets of tears and a lot of stress, but apparently I learned from it, because I handled this like a pro. I talked to the police, my family, the tow company, and the insurance agent within an hour. I lined up a rental car and got everything under control. It was methodical. I shut down and switched on at the same time, a special talent that I’ve always reserved for finals week and deadlines at work. So I suppose it makes sense that it took awhile for the whole thing to hit me.
I don’t know if it was the hug that my mom gave me that lasted a little too long, the extra-tight squeezes from my boyfriend, or the concern on my childhood best friend’s face when she saw me the next day, appearing, as she could only explain, “even smaller.” I don’t know if it’s that sleep has been rare since or the bleary-eyed evenings of looking for used cars online. Maybe it’s all of it added together.
But as I walked home from work on Monday, over a week post-accident, flakes from the first real Minnesota snowfall mixed with the salty tears gathering in my eyes. I started to feel it just a little bit.