This I Believe

Sue - Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
Entered on August 13, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: carpe diem, death

I learned early that today is all you are given. With that in mind, I strive daily to convey my gratitude to the people who surround me for the bliss they bring to my life.

Late one afternoon fourteen years ago while speaking to my mom on the phone, the unthinkable occurred. My dad, 20 feet up in a tree trimming branches, fell from the ladder and was killed as a result of his extensive injuries. He was 52. The sound of the ladder falling and my mother’s screams will stay with me forever. From this experience I know how short life can be, but I guess sometimes life delivers a little wake up call. I received my reminder a couple of months ago.

It was a Friday evening and I dropped my son off at his bass lesson at a local music store. I parked my jeep commander in the lot facing out along business route 30, a relatively busy road. I then opened a book and settled in for my 30 minute wait while my younger son played in the space behind the back seats. A few minutes into the book I was startled by a thunderous crash and looked up to see a smoking red car careening straight at my front windshield. This automobile was flying, and I mean that literally. All four tires were off the road and debris flew from it like a chase scene in an action movie. With no time to react I think I yelled, “Aahh,” or worse as the soaring auto collided with the car parked to my right. Rebounding off that vehicle it then smashed into the front end of my jeep. Still airborne it tore the bumper from the Toyota to my left, grazed the car next to that, and then finally skidded to a halt at the side of the road.

It’s funny how the mind works in these situations because my very first thought was, Oh man! I just got my car out of the shop. I quickly came to my senses and checked on my screaming son who was thankfully unharmed but very frightened. After reassuring him I climbed out to survey the damage. Total chaos was in full swing in the previously quiet parking lot. People poured from the shops as some sped to the aid of the wrecked car’s driver. The surreal scene seemed to play out in slow motion. The crowd soon discovered that there was another passenger in the car, a 4 year old girl. Swooping down on the car, a swarm of well meaning people whooshed the little girl into a nearby building amid cries of, “Oh, my god, there’s a baby in the car”, and “the car is smoking get them out.” As I stood observing I thought, Wait, why are they moving her, what if she has a neck injury, and where are they taking her? I yelled to the crowd of people, “Did anyone call 911?” After a couple attempts to be heard I was told that no one did, so I dialed 911 on my cell phone thinking I have never had to call 911 before, another strange thought among the craziness.

When you call 911 pertinent information needs to be supplied, such as the address and township from which you are calling. I was unable to come up either of these under the circumstances. I did know the cross streets of the shopping center so luckily they were able to send help quickly. Within 5 minutes flashing fire trucks, wailing police cruisers and a couple ambulances surrounded the parking lot. It wasn’t until later, driving home with my 2 boys that the severity of this event hit me. My hands shook and I started to cry as I thought how close my son and I came to being killed that night. If that car had hit my windshield first, instead of the car next to me, that would have been it, just like that. Game over.

I no longer take for granted the time we are given to live our lives and express to our friends and family how much they mean. Although it’s sometimes a challenge, I continue to strive to live in full knowledge that “someday” is today and tell the people important to me that I am blessed to have them in my life.