“I think you’re right,” I said and began slowing down. I was amazed and relieved to note that my trusty Highlander could decelerate from 75 to 0 miles per hour so quickly. Stopping inches shy of the car in front of us, I remember thinking that I sure hoped the cars behind me would be able to do the same thing.
That’s when I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw it: a big black truck barreling right towards the back of my car. I KNEW he couldn’t stop the truck in time, and without consciously thinking about it, I quickly swerved the car off of the highway and onto the side of the road at the exact moment that the black truck flew into the space I had vacated. Drivers in the right lane had seen him flying down the highway and had managed to leave a small free area that allowed him to maneuver into the right lane before slamming to a halt.
Seconds later, I was back on the highway in a spot left by a considerate driver. Elizabeth and I were both quiet as we considered what had happened so quickly and what could have happened IF…IF she had not noticed the non-moving cars and alerted me in time and IF I hadn’t quickly left the highway.
I looked at my lovely daughter and said, “You’re alive, Girl! And you know why? It’s because you noticed that no cars were moving.”
“But you’re the one who moved over just as the black truck moved into where we’d been sitting!”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. There’s something to be said for quick reflexes.”
Shaken, we sat in silence for the remaining time, both of us pondering the close call. After several minutes, we began inching forward in a stop-and-go progression for several miles.
At one point, we were beside with the driver of the black truck, and naturally we exchanged glances, looks that communicated relief and wonder. He went on ahead, and I noticed his Texas tags. The Texan and I took turns passing each other until somewhere between Augusta and Columbia, and I hope he safely made it to his destination.
“He’d be dead too if you hadn’t moved over,” Elizabeth said.
“And so might several people in the cars ahead of mine.” I replied.
Except for a lousy experience at the Cracker Barrel at Sandhills, Elizabeth and I made it back to my house without further mishap.This morning it hit me: Elizabeth and I almost died! Instead of briskly walking around the neighborhood enjoying the early morning air, I could be lying on a slab at Kornegay’s.
But we’re not.
We’re alive. And we’re both extremely aware of the difference two seconds can make. We both feel that we’ve been given second chances. After my epiphany, I hurried home and walked straight to the room where Elizabeth was reading and again asked, “Do you really understand how lucky we are to be alive this morning?”
“Yes Ma’am, I do,” she relied.
“Okay, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to ask yourself if there is anything you’d regret not doing if your life had ended yesterday. You don’t have to share it with me; I just want you to think about it.”
“I’ve already been doing that,” she said.
“What I’ve been thinking. No. What I KNOW is that God gave us another chance, Sweetheart. Yesterday was a wake-up call to the fragility and fleeting nature of life.” (Yes, I really do talk to my children like this.)
“I think so too,” Elizabeth replied, probably hoping that I’d leave her alone so that she could finish reading her book.
But I wasn’t finished with my “Momtalk” yet, and she knew it.
I continued, “Some people might say ‘Whew, lucky break,’ but we know it was more than that. Let’s give some thought to what we’re going to do with our lives. It’s clear to me that God isn’t ready for us yet.”
“Okay,” she agreed.
Some people reading this might think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill or that I’m reading too much into a near miss, but Elizabeth and I know better. We were there when the Texan in the black Chevrolet truck moved into our space the very moment I pulled off the highway. You weren’t.
Because of him, I’m going to start checking some more things off my list, beginning with an adventure that involves the boats above. What would you regret not doing if your life ended today? And why is it that it takes something like a speeding Texan to wake us up?