shattered

March 2, 2006

What is one supposed to make of two intense and markedly near-death experiences within the span of the same number of weeks? Who knows what one is supposed to make of it . . . but I can tell you what I make of it. I think I can, at least.
Perhaps before I do so, however, I should tell you the second of the experiences [the first having been relayed quite recently already on this blog]:
This week I had the privilege of representing my school, and county, for the Annual Library Legislative Day, held in the state capitol. It was a wonderful whirlwind of a couple of days, filled with inspirational moments, inspired brainstorming, and spirited conversations. While driving back home, contentedly peaceful in my Barbara Kingsolver book-on-tape reverie, my world was suddenly shattered. Or at least, my windshield was.
I watched the scene unfold in slow motion before me, as the 18-wheeler met with the 2 x 4, which cracked in half. One half of the wooden beam careened in, hitting my windshield squarely in the center and shattering it in what I later discovered to be a lovely pattern of ripples-in-water-like concentric circles.
As I do when instantly terrified, I began to hyperventilate. And my heart quickened till my ears rang with the clanging of my internal beat. But I stayed squarely on the road, made it the rest of the way home with only the delay of a state trooper report, and the only casualty was one windshield.
I still have to catch my breath when I replay the scene in my mind. But moving past the fear, I realize what I know to be true . . .
I know that I am loved by a silver-haired and golden-hearted couple. When my grandmother offered to bring me dinner upon my arrival, I accepted, knowing I would not have time to cook before class started that night. This rapidly-moving woman who is always quick to declare herself “unsentimental,” delivered my meal in a carefully packaged box of individual containers enough for a week of dinners. On the top she had placed 2 brilliant Camelia blooms, clipped from her bush and carefully tied together. She did this not out of any aesthetic inclinations of her own, I know—it was simply a gesture of love. She knows me well enough to know the great pleasure that simple blooms can bring.

I also know that, for whatever reason, my time here on earth is not yet done. It was of course the sort of freak accident that happens every day. And we all could die, at any given moment. But I cannot let slide the tangible closeness of death that this, and last week’s incident, have given me a taste of. I cannot not be more mindful of this precarious life that only I can claim as my own. I do choose to own it. Whatever it is that I am meant to do yet on this earth, I choose to do it well. I choose to live intentionally.

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