— Could We Have Died Today?June 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Online Ministry | 1 Comment
Yes. Today, with me behind the wheel, Heather and I missed death by a breath, literally.
I find myself wondering now about life and death decisions we all probably make, sometimes being aware of the import of their moments; other times not. The mystery of life breaks through the matrix in those moments, at least it does for me. And today was a doozie.
After four hours on the water exploring coves, bays and inlets along the Atlantic side of Cape Cod, Captain Heather returned us to our harbor. Our next stop to celebrate our 25th anniversary: a mini golf course.
All of a sudden a car pulled out from behind some bushes on a highway and shot out directly in front of us just a few yards ahead. A third car on the other side of the two-lane Highway 28 was just a few yards on the other side of the rocket-like car. In a flash, I had to make a number of decisions to limit the effect of the impact as best I could at 40 mph.
I could’t swerve right because there were several SUV like vehicles parked along the road and Heather would have been hurt badly. If I turned into the oncoming lane, the odds that the third card would hit the rocket car’s driver side dead on were very high. There was a slight berm on the left side and maybe there was a chance I’d make it clearing the rocket and the other car.
The driver of the rocket had seen us and I saw him and I thought he slammed his breaks to slow down.
I was projecting my hopes. For he didn’t until the last second. He had decided to gun it across, miscalculating.
I swerved sharp left and saw he wasn’t breaking. I slammed on the breaks headed directly for his door. OMG, I was about to kill this guy; and I thought the third car would kill us by smashing the rocket into us. My last thought was “brace for impact,” and I held my breath.
And then silence. All three vehicles came to a dead stop. The nose of our car was less than an inch from the rocket. The third car had managed to get off the road about a yard away from the rocket.
Silence. Everything had happened in less than 30 seconds, probably more like 20. The rocket stretched across the two lane highway.
And then we all realized in a blink that if we didn’t get off the road an even bigger accident involving more vehicles would happen within minutes. The rocket reversed as fast as he had advanced back to the hidden driveway.
I couldn’t talk. The 25-30 year old driver got out of his car immediately and headed for us. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he said along with other sentiments I couldn’t hear. Heather rolled down her window and the two assured each other everyone was okay. He was genuinely horrified and had the decency to get out of his car and see if we were okay.
I was grateful for his sincerity, but I wasn’t emotionally okay. The amount of mental energy it took to calculate odds and attempt to lessen serious injury rocked me to my core. The event triggered memories of another potentially fatal incident when I was 19. I had to make choices then in a no-win situation.
I was shaking. I got us back onto the road and drove a few blocks and then pulled over to let Heather take over.
I thought I made the wrong decision. Heather could have been killed. I could have killed Heather!
She assured me over and over that I did the right thing; that she would have handled the car the same way.
And besides, everyone drove away miraculously okay – doubly miraculous that a second more serious incident didn’t happen with tourist traffic coming from both directions.
I couldn’t drive the rest of the day. And I wanted a drink badly. You can’t get a cup of tea in the U.S. worth anything. It’s crap in restaurants. The only other choice to calm me down: booze. So I had three — more than I’ve had in two years. (The entire time I was in Ireland in 2012-13 I had the sum total of one shot-glass size of Guiness).
Over Sangria and Pina Coladas, we later began to relax. I looked at Heather and thought today, the start of what was to be our next 25 years together could have been our last.
The mystery of life, the random luck of it all, didn’t end today. Tomorrow is a new beginning. Happy anniversary, my love, my dove, my sexy cake!