Last Friday night, for a minute, i died.
When my husband cautioned me against driving in “the weather” (in P.E.I., that means snow, and in this case, 2-4 cm), i scoffed. i told him he worried too much, and that he should live a little. I rolled my eyes.
“I’ve been driving for six years, babe,” i added (i didn’t get my license until i was 28). Like in an instant on an icy road, that would have mattered. It’s you versus the elements. And the elements don’t exactly care about your driving record.
Grammie’s house was only an hour away and Lei was pumped for her sleepover. After a cup of tea with Mum, she cautioned me to go super slowly on my way back to town. The blustering snow was coming down a little harder now and the roads were covered. It was starting to drift. No problem, i said. I laced up my boots and kissed my six year old goodbye. I didn’t even think twice.
Little did i know that only moments later and probably not four kilometres away, i would catch my tire, and spinning out of control, nosedive into the ditch, and flip my truck; seconds later i would crawl out the driver’s side window upside down and to the icy ground beneath.
I passed a school bus once, because it was foggy and I didn’t see its lights were on. That was traumatic.
This was something else. This was divine intervention.
I assessed my condition as soon as i left the x-trail, upside down, tires spinning and the headlights still on. I didn’t have a scratch. I wasn’t broken, i wasn’t in pain, i could see; i was intact, though i looked down at my body to be sure. I was ALIVE.
When I was calling the tow truck, i saw another car go into the ditch on the opposite side of the road. I cursed. I was ALIVE.
When the policeman invited me into his car to get my statement, he ran my plates and was kind enough to remind that that my truck was no longer registered. You’re two months overdue, he said. Yes i was; and I was ALIVE.
When Mitch’s sister and husband came to my rescue, i was in a state of shock. I just kept repeating, “I’m ALIVE! I’m ALIVE!” I kept thinking that there must have been a reason that i crashed, like to prevent an even greater catastrophe down the road, maybe one where i wouldn’t have been so lucky.
But unfortunately for my glorious x-trail (“exy” to those who knew and loved her), she left this world a brave soldier: windshield shattered, windows blown, airbags deployed. We collected the scattered items that Exy had carried, and before i left, my brother in law handed me a crumpled up parking ticket, half frozen and covered in snow.
Needless to say, the experience has left me thankful not only for my life,
but for every precious moment in it.
When Mitch and I were traveling through Vietnam, we met an elderly French-speaking gentleman who drew calligraphy on scrolls. We sat in his small shop and had tea and oranges with him for a whole afternoon, listening to his stories about the French occupation of Ho Chi Minh. Before he left, he gave us a gift: a beautiful scroll which read, “Live for this moment. This moment is your life.”
And I thought about him on the road that night, as i watched them tow my crushed truck out of the ditch.
And I thought about Mitchell waking up on a Saturday morning and not having a wife anymore, and I thought about Leila not having a mother. And I cried my eyes out. And I thought that I must not be finished here – that I must have been saved because i have work to do yet in this life. How crazy does that sound, now, only one week later.
The next day I had tea with my dear friend, and when she handed me a cup of licorice tea that said, “you are unlimited,” i burst into tears again. It reminded me of the time just after we lost our babe little t, gone to the ether. A friend asked me to select a card from her oracle deck, claiming that they were always poignant. The card I chose read, “Acceptance”. And that was the day i started to let go.
By Monday the physical manifestations of stress had set in: the pounding headache, unphased by the ibuprofen, the walloping head cold, which came out of nowhere, and not one, not two, but three cold sores, which violently attacked my upper lip and put me in the grouchiest of moods. By Tuesday, I was bed-stricken and couldn’t work. yikes.
So it’s been a week of crying thorough car promo videos (who does that?) and regrouping, in a desperate attempt to move along to the next chapter. Yesterday Mitch and I went to see the Exy one last time to “collect our personal belongings”, as instructed by the insurance company, and i admit, the experience was therapeutic. (If you can call bawling – into a six foot tall man’s open arms beside a crashed car – therapeutic. Thanks honey, you were great about that.)
And life goes on. The moral?
Live for this moment. This moment is your life.