I was traveling down the 57 South and out of the corner of my eye, only about 100 feet ahead of me and two lanes to my left, I see an explosion of glass and metal spray into the air. In an instant I realize it's not two, but three cars that have collided, still spinning and struggling to come to a halt. I hit my brakes and catch my breath just in time to glance at the debris. One car is hit, but I see the driver moving. The second car is facing 180 degrees backwards on the freeway and the entire side of the small vehicle is caved in. But, the third car (Christ have mercy) was upside down on top of the median. This is when my heart sank. I honestly don't know how someone could have survived in that car.
I pulled over, quickly realizing traffic was coming to a stop behind me, but knowing that such a severe accident had to be reported immediately. I was about to exit anyway, so I was able to safely pull to the shoulder and dig for my cell. I have never had to call 911 before. The call got dropped at first (are you kidding me?) and to be honest, as stupid as it sounds, I was so flustered with shock that I was thinking "Do I just dial 911? Does it work that way with a cell phone?" When finally they answered. "911 Emergency, what are you reporting?"
Fortunately, they told me that the police and firetrucks were already on their way. They took my name and hung up. So, that's it? I probably just saw someone's life end and now I have to go home and heat up leftovers and give my toddler a nap? Those people just experienced possibly the worst thing of their lives, and I get to go home and complain about sorting the laundry?
Yes. This is life, people. Every day horrific, unimaginable things happen (accidents, murders, abuse, starvation). Every day amazing, miraculous, lovely things happen (weddings, births, proposals, baptisms). And every day, super normal, mundane, ridiculously boring things happen to the rest of us. Laundry. Leftovers.
But, that's not the whole story...
Of course, after witnessing something like that, I couldn't help but think of the mere moments leading up to such a crash. I don't know what those people in those cars were doing. I don't know and I will never know. But, here's what happened to me...and I'm totally serious.
As I was leaving the parking lot of the church, I happened to look down at my mileage and see the signal that there was a door ajar. I stopped, taking the extra 15 seconds or so, to get out, and re-shut Matilda's and my doors knowing it was one of them. Sure enough - and we are back on our way. I approach the freeway and Daphne has lost her pacifier and starts screaming. I, just this morning, realized if I bent my arm a certain way that I could reach through the top of her car seat and get the paci back into her mouth. It's a little tricky, though, and I didn't really want to do it on the freeway, but I didn't want a screaming baby either. She got the paci, and that was that.
Then, I got this overwhelming sense to pay attention to the road. I thought to myself, Okay, if she loses the darn paci again, I'm not getting it. I'm going to let her cry. But it was more than that. I felt this entire sensation of fear pour down over me. I literally thought Am I going to die today? Is Josh going to die today? Something feels terribly wrong. I actually got these visions of us being in an accident, of being in the emergency room, of Josh getting horrible news and having to raise our daughters alone. It all flashed through my head in a couple seconds before I started to block it all out with prayer.
God, protect us. God, be with Josh if he is on the road. Send your angels to surround our vehicle. Keep us safe, Lord.
I will be completely honest in saying that, even as I was praying it I was realizing how dramatic it all sounded. How I must be crazy to jump to such insane conclusions that are certainly unreasonable.
Then, about 15 seconds later, I decide to take the Imperial Exit. It was a totally flippant decision. Last week I took the Chapman Exit - and I would have been in the left lane if I decided that this week. But, I wasn't. I was in the right lane. In more ways than one. And when those cars hit each other, it literally looked like an explosion. It was loud, and terrifying, and I can not be more thankful that I didn't experience it myself.
When I got off the phone with 911, I burst into tears. My prayers were not silent anymore. THANK YOU, JESUS. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US SAFE! It seems a little funny to me now, but I instantly had that Amy Grant song from my childhood echoing in my ears "Angels watching over me, every move I make..." Such a chipper song for such a serious truth!
But, yes, absolutely Amy Grant, my angels were watching over my every move today, and thank you Jesus for them!
Today, if nothing else, was yet another reminder of how precious and fragile our lives are. How thankful I am for the moments filled with laughter and love...and laundry...and leftovers.