The Roller CoasterOctober 7, 2010 at 12:21 am | Posted in Family | 16 Comments
Tags: Challenges, Death, Family, Life, Mortality, Relationships, Roller Coasters
The car looked brand new. Shiny and silver, it sparkled in the morning sun. The interior, too, looked pristine.
Except for the airbags, shriveled like day-old balloons. Except for the pebbles of glass from the shattered back window. Except for the metal ripples cutting through the back driver’s-side door.
The police had closed down two lanes of traffic and were working on a third. It took us two hours to drive the mile and a half through the accident.
When we were clear, we sped on our way, back on track for the busy day we had planned at a nearby amusement park.
At the park, my husband and father-in-law rode roller coasters and chaperoned Lollipop and Giggles on kiddie airplanes. My mother-in-law and I took turns coaxing Bun to sleep amid the din of carnival games, train whistles, and the plunging log ride. We all got free refills in our ridiculously large neon green souvenir cups.
We had a wonderful time.
But all day, in the dark rear corners of my mind, I knew. Someone had died back there. In that car. Just before we passed by.
When we got home, I checked the local paper online and confirmed my fears. It had been a four-car accident, including an 18-wheeler. Three people had been taken to the hospital with minor injuries. One person, a woman, had died on the scene.
She had been a passenger in the silver car. The article didn’t give her name or mention any specifics about her.
Was she a mother, a wife? Surely, she was a daughter, a friend. And in the three seconds it took a series of cars to slam on their breaks, she was gone. Just like that.
Had she been on her way to brunch at her favorite restaurant? To the farmer’s market downtown? To church? Or was she headed home after finishing her Sunday morning errands? Did she wake up with a funny feeling in her stomach, some kind of small warning sign about what was to come?
And did she live those final few hours to the fullest?
I hope so, desperately. Because of her, I am — or I’m trying, at least. I’m trying to enjoy, really enjoy, every moment on my own life’s roller coaster.
Every single moment.
She deserves that. So do I.
Has an event that only peripherally impacted you ever left an indelible mark? How do you remind yourself to enjoy each moment? And why is it so hard?