Sunday, while being one of the best holidays ever, was also a sobering one for me. I have no doubt in my mind that I was about a second away from having myself, my wife, and both of our kids absolutely devastated in a car crash. One of those moments where you realize that if you’d acted just a slight bit differently, everything would have changed.
I’ve been tinkering lately with how I drive. I have a car (Mazda RX-8) that has some decent pep and when I use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel I’m capable of some delightful acceleration. My daughter and I have had some fun Sunday drives with these tools. Not breaking the speed limit, because there are more cops than citizens in Alpharetta… but in getting TO the speed limit as quickly as possible and enjoying the winding roads and beautiful scenery as it blurs by.
If I’d had done that this past Sunday there would be no me to speak of. No beautiful little girl and boy. No successful nurse practitioner in the ear, nose, and throat industry. I’d have been married in steel and matter with my loved ones and I’d never had been able to see my little gentleman give me the first legit Star Wars related joy in my life in decades that evening:
The scene: We were at a red light after having just spent a nice afternoon walking around and looking at shops and getting birthday ideas for my daughter as she nears the two week mark for her seventh. We were at the intersection of Azalea Drive and Roswell Road. A busy intersection and an old one that has never been granted the kind of upgrades mankind typically amends to accommodate for growth. We were turning left. It’s a blind turn. And it’s already a weird road because there are two lanes where giant X’s that alternate during the day to tell rush hour patrons what lanes are ‘safe’. We are turning left.
The light turns green. For the first time in days I don’t have a little fun with my little rice rocket. I hesitate…
…and I’m I lucky I did because… running the red light with no concern for anyone, a BMW comes speeding ass from the blind spot to left going 80mph.
For some reason I didn’t go and because of that I’m alive. Surprisingly, no one was making a right turn either or they’d have been pulverized to mist. It was one of those near-death experiences except it’s not like I dodged to save our lives. I just didn’t start driving when the light turned green. It’s a blind road. I didn’t see the BMW coming and stop. I just didn’t drive.
And it passed. Hopefully past a policeman who busted the ever-living daylights out of him, but that would require a Georgia cop to actually do something valuable.
I was shaken. More than I realized. We went at got some lunch at The Salt Factory in historic Roswell and it kept flashing through my head. What seemed on the books to happen. It wasn’t quite a Final Destination moment, but it wasn’t far off. Now, I am not a God fearing person. I also don’t fear Darth Vader, MechaGodzilla, or the Overfiend for the same reason.
But there was something sorta ‘spiritual’ to the whole thing.
Luckily, I ordered a big glass of bourbon and got distracted by my daughter and the Rubik’s Cube we’d brought along. Halloween happened and we had a great time, but I have to admit that the thought did cross my mind a few dozen times over the course of Trick ‘r Treating.
The kids were circling the drain and my wife and I had taken separate cars so I carefully and slowly drove my daughter home and we were at the house first. We won the ‘race’, which was the slowest race ever and we had a really nice conversation as we did and as we pulled up it just really hit home how much I had to lose in that car. Lucky man.
We’re carrying her stuff up the steps and we hear it.
A sickening crunch. Close. Probably within a quarter of a mile. No brakes. Just the horrible impact of metal and metal. That was rough. It sounded like an explosion. What was rougher was what followed.
A long steady car horn that went on for over ten minutes. Like perhaps a head pressed against a wheel. A horrific car crash, especially considering how many sirens I heard shortly after.
This time I couldn’t hide it. The combination of the wreck that almost happened and that one that did was too much. I called my wife to make sure she was safe and when she pulled into the driveway and I told her about it, my daughter heard the concern in my voice. It was the way that the crash punctuated the day and the was the sound seemed to speak directly to me, it just got to me.
I was lucky. Someone wasn’t. That’s all it was and I don’t deign to invoke a higher power at play because it doesn’t compute. But it is interesting and it does make one think.
I lay awake for a long time at night and there was one though I couldn’t shake:
Do I put the baby’s car seat on my side or the other? If he’s behind me, whatever happens to me happens to me first, theoretically. If it’s head-on I can hopefully absorb the worst of it. If it’s from the side… well I wouldn’t be around to deal with the aftermath. If he’s behind the passenger seat I have to consider the possibility that he could be injured and not me, and that’s something I can’t handle.
Many hours have passed and I still cannot get this shit out of my mind.
Speaking of near fatalities… please enjoy the last few Nightsticks albums for free.