Late Friday afternoon, Brian and I were heading home on an eastbound Indiana highway. The sun shined brightly from the pretty blue sky, and our thoughts and small talk were on what to fix for supper, when to go grocery shopping on Saturday -- just regular-life stuff.
Suddenly, after rounding a curve, there it was. A two-vehicle wreck appeared in front of us, spilling out of our lane into the ditch, both cars smoking heavily. Emergency personnel hadn’t yet arrived, but it appeared an off-duty police officer was on the scene, having exited an unmarked car with flashers. A driver in a pickup, the only vehicle in front of us, had pulled over and was also out checking out the scene.
We waited in our car, watching for signs of life in the wreckage, for someone to emerge. Meanwhile, the vehicles were stacking in lines on both sides of the highway. It felt like forever, but wasn’t, before the welcome sound of sirens flooded the air, officers, firefighters and EMTs arriving to fill every inch in and around us.
Suddenly, hectic movement from those hovering around the vehicles, and the female front-seat passenger in the eastbound wrecked car was removed to the ground. Frantic CPR took place before our eyes.
I silently prayed for the woman and the unknown people inside the vehicles. Sitting there with this incredibly odd perspective of a front-row seat to sudden tragedy, so many things filled my mind.
I thought of the difference three minutes makes. When we stood to leave our friend’s home earlier, Brian made the uncharacteristic announcement that he wasn’t sure if he should visit the bathroom or if he could “make it” home first. I said, “Why don’t you just go now to be sure?”
Did that three minutes mean it wasn’t us in the accident? That instead of the front-seat passenger on the ground in that moment, it would be me since I was in her place in our car?
It is the oddest mix of feelings: guilt that it was her and not me, thankfulness for my own life, the somber evidence in front of us of how life can change or be gone in a split second, that there are no guarantees about our number of days, or the way they will end. Someone can live a hundred years or be gone in an instant decades earlier.
We saw a news report that the woman didn’t survive. Neither did the driver of the other car. The news reported that he had had crossed into the eastbound lane, our lane, and hit the couple’s vehicle head on. The husband of the woman was hospitalized.
My thoughts and prayers continue with the two devastated families. I’m left to apply the lesson in the only way I know how:
Be ready and right with God and people.
Be grateful for His grace and mercy right this minute.
Treasure life. It is fleeting.
Job 14:5: You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. (New Living Translation)
3/4/2017 09:16:18 am
Donna, Just reading your article gave me chills. We all need to think about that a little more often. Good bible verse at the end.
3/6/2017 02:32:37 pm
There was a lot to think about as we thought about what we saw. Thanks, Marilyn.
3/4/2017 01:31:21 pm
What a chilling and dramatic scene you found yourselves in. Life can change so rapidly right before our eyes. We are relieved dear friend that it wasn't you and Brian and pray for the families involved. God Bless.
3/6/2017 02:33:13 pm
Aww... thank you, Pat.
3/6/2017 02:34:00 pm
After that, being petty about things seems so, well, petty!
Donna, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of life for the families involved in the car crash and the close call for you and Brian. I believe that God "saves us" more times than we ever realize. We don't always know how close we were to danger. However, we can always know how close we are to God.
3/6/2017 02:35:37 pm
Debbie, I believe that you are correct. We have no idea how many times we are saved from tragedy. We never know when it is our time to go.
3/5/2017 05:30:58 pm
Donna- a man in church ask for prayers for his coworker who came upon this same accident and had given CPR to the woman until help arrived. Very tragic and as you point out, a reminder that each day is a gift.
3/6/2017 02:36:13 pm
That's amazing to hear, Cate. What a small world.
3/13/2017 01:04:13 pm
This is a heartbreaking story, and you told it so beautifully.
3/13/2017 01:21:42 pm
We learned that the female victim was a math teacher in Crawfordsville, the mother of 2, age 47. The driver of the other car was 23, and he also died.
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