On the way out to breakfast this morning, I noticed the reflection of my blinker lighting up the street sign in front of me. The lights from cars coming from the opposite directions added flash and color and my mind instantly remembered being on the scene of Dannica’s accident. So many flashing lights; her there, on the stretcher, her left arm falling limply to the side.
One of the first thoughts through my head was that I couldn’t have been more than 20 seconds behind her… if I hadn’t turned on the wrong street… I’d have made up that time easily and she’d be in my arms today.
The light changed to green and I turned. The memory had removed me from my body a little bit and I realized it as I noticed how different the world looks without her in it. I took a deep breath and brought myself back into the moment by giving myself a play by play, “I’m driving a vehicle. It’s foggy. The lanes split into two up ahead. Moving to the right one. The light is green… oh, my God….”
My foot came off the accelerator and time slowed way down as an SUV went straight through the red light and hit the pole below it. No brakes. Didn’t even try to make the turn. “He’s drunk!” my husband said, pulling out his cell phone to call for help. Another car, a little blue one, came around me to my left, slowed down and honked angrily before speeding off into the fog. May that driver never be in need of assistance on the road… and if he is, don’t let me be it.
The man driving the crashed vehicle backed up then drove forward into a parking lot. I was afraid. “What if he’s an angry drunk?” I got out of my van and went to his car, my husband giving directions to the 911 operator. “We have to make sure he’s okay.” His door opened and the first thing I did was to breathe in deeply; not drunk. Something wrong, though. I took his hand in mine and looked into his confused face, “Are you hurt?” He wasn’t.
People who lived in the houses along the road where Dannica’s accident happened, came out right away. One man opened the door of her truck. Later, he told me she looked peaceful, like she’d gone to sleep and that he had cradled her head in his hands until help arrived. She wasn’t alone. She wasn’t conscious. She didn’t feel a thing. She was at peace. Something wrong, though. Something wrong.
Off to breakfast and frozen to the core all I could think about was getting my hands on a hot coffee mug. Then my next thought… 20 seconds. Had I not forgotten to put my wallet back in my purse last night, we’d have been 20 seconds sooner. We could have been T-Boned on our way to breakfast. But we weren’t.