I peek in the room, and she is propped up on pillows, reading by light of lamp left on from the evening before. She likes light through the night, to chase away boogie men and other creatures of the dark. Content with her books, now with the light of day coming through a crack in the blind covering the windows, she meets my eye and gives me a smile. I come in, bend low to her head and kiss her. It is 7:00 a.m.
We have a busy day ahead. I have two presentations before lunch, and my mind is on the ideas I am to present. I feel mentally unprepared, as I do for most things in my life these days. Life rushes, as if on continual fast-forward play. We drive, husband and I, the forty-five minute commute to work. I know the children are in good hands, and I hardly give a backward glance to life back at Grammie’s house, where breakfast is probably in full swing, by now.
The morning passes, and presentations are a carried out successfully. I spend the afternoon in sessions. At 2:45 p.m., I meet my husband in the parking lot. We have ten minutes to make it to the designated pick-up spot, where we will meet up with my Mom and Dad and our four children.
We pull out from the parking lot, and faintly in the distance, on the road directly behind us, I hear an ambulance siren. “Should we pull over now?” I ask. The wail gets louder. In one minute, it is upon us. We pull over to let the vehicle go by, and then drive on.
I must pause here for a moment, because we were, at this moment oblivious. Ignorant of what was to come. It is a strange state of reality, of which I have since given a great deal of thought to it. In essence, it is a state of being in which one’s life is changing, usually for the worse, even whilst one is completely, blissfully unaware. I still find it hard to believe that the ambulance emergency technicians knew first, and crossed our path, even while we were still unaware. Coincidence? I think not.
We are coming up to a stop sign, and my cell phone is ringing. I can’t find it, as per usual. It continues to ring, and I locate it at the bottom of my purse. It is my father. He is saying words that do not make sense. They have been in an accident. With our four children on board.
WITH OUR FOUR CHILDREN ON BOARD?
I hear him say the words, but I am now thinking about the ambulance that just screamed passed, connecting the dots. My husband is driving, but his eyes are on me. He is forcefully demanding I tell him what is going on. I am not feeling anything right now, because this is a dream. It is a dream, right?
We hang up and drive toward the area where my father directed us to come. I see the ambulance speed by again, this time it goes through an intersection that we are now approaching in our own car. I am starting to come out of my reverie. This same ambulance just passed us moments ago. I am dumb-founded. But I must still be dreaming this. It feels surreal.
We come upon a traffic jam, and it is suddenly all too real. There are flashing lights and police cars. The ambulance has arrived. We cannot get to the scene fast enough. Husband drives on the shoulder of the road until we find a dirt path by which we can cut across all this pile-up of cars. We are now driving across a potato field. We come to a quick stop, and I open the door. It occurs to me I am wearing 2 inch heels. I am sprinting through a ditch full of ragweed and vines, and I run as if my life depends on it.
And there they sit. Our van, loaded with precious cargo, jack-knifed in the middle of the road, the front end crumpled and bent. My mother, crying over the steering wheel. My father still dazed, talking to a kindly gentleman on the right. My daughters, whimpering in the back. My son, tears in his eyes. My youngest, who has just woken up with the impact of the collision, unharmed and seemingly, unfazed. I plow into the van and I cannot touch them all fast enough. I cradle their heads, and I move in a frenzy, between the two sitting in the front, to the two sitting in the rear. As they cry, I hold them. Life, a fragile thread that joins the present with the past and future. Questions of what could have been, replaced by truth of what is not, because of the grace of God.
Because of the grace of God, we are all here, tonight. Our children, and their grandparents, were completely unharmed, a miracle in light of the fact that our vehicle went through a front-end collision. No words can express gratitude in eloquence as befits such a miracle. We are so blessed. God’s hand, the hand that giveth as well as taketh, has seen fit to allow us the gift of another day. And it is only because of the Lord’s mercies we are given another day. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 22, 23, NIV)