Monday, March 29, 2010

Felt the whisper of death on the back of my neck

This week I will be away from blogging. In my stead I have had some wonderful fellow bloggers help out. Today, I bring you Midlife Mama @ Midlife Musings:


Hello! I'm Midlife Mama and I have a blog called Midlife Musings. I am very honored that Ca-Joh asked me to guest post for him while he is away at training. I hope I can fulfill my duties honorably.

I thought long and hard about what I should post about for Christopher. Do I get serious? Funny? Silly? Don't want to offend any of his readers. This is a serious responsibility, and I want to make sure that I do right by him. I turned it over in my mind several times; selected and discarded several subjects. I finally decided to do a post about friendships and relationships, and how to tell if you're being a good friend, and if you are in a healthy relationship. But then on Friday (March 19) something happened on the way home from work, and I decided to write abut that instead.

I believe in God, and I also believe that everyone in this life has a story to tell and a life to live, and people to influence — positively or negatively — while they are here. Sometimes things happen that take our breath away, and cause us to stop taking life for granted, and to really start living. Do we have a specific date that we are scheduled to die? Is it written in the Book of Life somewhere, and when your number is up, poof! you're gone? Do we have any control over when we die?

I don't think any of us have the answer to that. Everyone has an opinion, or a theory, based in fact and/or belief, and I can't believe that someone who commits suicide, for instance, was destined to do so and that was the day they were supposed to die. I can't believe that God does that to us — points to someone and says, "You will kill yourself on May 10th 2010 and that will be the day you die." I think that a person who commits suicide screws up God's schedule. I personally believe that everyone has free choice, and that by giving us free choice, sometimes we do things that can change the direction of our lives. Sometimes others do things TO us that causes the direction of our lives to change. Perhaps a life is abruptly cut short. The tricky part is figuring it all out. Why are some people, bad people, spared and good, kind wonderful people are murdered, or killed by a drunk driver, for instance?

The point of all this rambling is this: Have you ever had an experience where you escape serious injury or death by seconds? Nanoseconds? You feel the hiccup in the universe, where, had things been even slightly different, you might not be alive?

This happened to me on Friday. I was driving home from work, and as per usual the streets were crowded. Everyone seems to be out and about more on Friday afternoons, and this day was no exception. I take a different route home each day, depending on the turn of a traffic signal. I refuse to take the highway home (I live in a relatively small town in northern California, and there is a four-lane highway (two north, two south) that runs through town.) Normally I would hop on the highway and zip on home, but the "rush hour" (you in crowded metropolitan areas would laugh hysterically at our "rush hour") traffic on the freeway makes me nervous so I usually take surface streets home. As I approach East First Avenue each day, if the light is red, I turn right. If the light is green, I go straight and turn down E. 5th Street to get home.

On this particular Friday, the light was red, so I turned right onto E. First Ave. This means that I then have to turn left a few short blocks later onto the street where I live. East First Avenue is usually heavy with traffic that time of day, and turning left across traffic can be a pain, sometimes having to wait through two or three cycles of the light to get enough clearance to turn. (They seriously need to put a left turn light there, but I digress). If the light is green at my street, instead of stopping and waiting to turn left, I usually turn right, make a u-turn and then wait at the red light to go across. I hate turning left and waiting for traffic to clear, so it may not be faster but at least I'm not just sitting there.

So as that was the case on Friday, I turned right, made a u-turn and sat at the red light to go across the intersection to get to my apartment complex. The light turned green, and I accelerated to go across the intersection. As I passed through the intersection, a car on my left ran the red light. In that moment, my brain registered that there was a car coming, and before I could stop to breathe, it passed behind me, missing me by a nanosecond. I swear you couldn't have gotten a piece of paper between my back bumper and that car, it was that close. If I had been even a half a second slower on the accelerator, he would have t-boned me on the driver's side. The car was accelerating, and going fast. It would have seriously injured or killed me if it had hit me.

In that moment, that my brain registered what had happened, and I heard the car slam on their breaks just as they passed me, I felt a chill pass over me, and I knew that I had narrowly escaped a quick exit from this earth. My heart stopped briefly and then began to pound. I felt a cold sweat break out all over. My hands began to shake and my breath came in gasps as my body reacted to the scare. I pulled into my parking space and sat there, white, shaking, willing the adrenaline that had poured into my system to abate.

Why was I spared? I do not yet know this, but it was obviously not my time. I either have something to learn, or something to contribute. I have love to give, and love to receive. I have life to live. Future grandchildren to bounce on my knee. Elderly parents to love and care for as they walk their final years on this earth. As I got out of my car, my legs were shaking so hard I could hardly walk. I plan to embrace life, to take this second chance I was given and live my life to the fullest. I need to do what is best for me and my life, and not let others determine my path, to not let the opinions of others determine the direction of my life. I said a little prayer of thanksgiving to God, and went in the apartment to make a really tough decision that I'd been avoiding — a decision to leave my marriage, and continue on this walk alone but happier, more at peace; not seeking but not closed to the idea of someone in my life at a future time. Life is too short to be unhappy. And simple decisions such as which street to take home from work, can have unexpected consequences.

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