Baby Girl and I were heading home this afternoon from routine errands. A trip to Tar.get, another to the grocery store. She was happily playing with a teething ring. The radio was on. We came around the corner, a green light at the intersection ahead.
And then there were sirens. And a squeal of tires. And a white truck, coming straight at us, head-on, in the wrong lane.
There were less than 2 seconds to react. I swerved to the right. The truck, going at least 70 miles an hour in a 35mph zone, sped through the space we had just occupied, as if the ghost of my car was still there. Three police cars flew past us in hot pursuit.
There was one second of silence in my car while I realized what had very nearly happened.
In an instant, my mind began to play out the terrible what could have been. A head-on collision with a much larger vehicle going 70 miles an hour would not have turned out well for us. There was a second of silence, and then I began to panic. I gasped for air as if I had been pulled, drowning, out of the sea. I pulled into the parking lot next to us, unlocked the door, shaking, and stood next to my driver's door, sobbing and panting and looking at my slightly surprised child in the back seat and shut my eyes and saw the white truck, again, coming straight at us. Two seconds.
If I had been looking down, changing the radio station. If I had been reaching into the back seat to retrieve her teething ring. If I had taken the moment to glance at my phone. If, if, if....
But, fortunately, and all-praises-be, "if" was "not." There was time. There was space in the right lane. Barely, for both, but enough.
I cried all the way home. She slept. When we got safely in the house, she awoke. I took her out of her carseat and held onto her as if...if...if...
It can all change in an instant. In Japan. In Libya. In Egypt. In Wisconsin.
And when it doesn't, when you squeak through by the skin of your nose and the grace of God, you ought to take the time to say it: