There is a phrase, “When your life passes before your eyes”, used to explain the near death experience. Usually that phenomenon occurs during a serious illness or accident. It is said to be like a recording of your life on hyperspeed fast forward, when the fear that the breath you are then taking might be your last. I have not had this mental manuever. But there is something that happened that needs sharing.
It was a Saturday, Hallowe’en day, raining. Raining so much that the regularly scheduled earliest possible Saturday morning golf round at the club where the Financier plays might be cancelled. The saying “It never rains on the golf course” applies to the Financier. He would play if the course would allow it, no matter the weather. Our normal weekend routine is to make the forty-five minute drive up the interstate in the morning while it is still dark, to allow time for me to be dropped off at daughter Semi’s house near the course before the league play begins. It is the time for me to enjoy chatting and shopping with Semi and having quality one on one time with our youngest grandson, four year old LTB. We all look forward to this togetherness. He dropped me off at Semi’s and went on to the club, prepared to play just in case.
At Semi’s pumpkins were carved for the trick or treaters to be faux frightened by the scary faces that night, lit from within. The seeds were scooped, separated from the pulp, washed and saved to be salted and roasted later. I was dressed all in black, with striped socks and pointy toed shoes, sporting black lipstick and a pumpkin headband. Semi donned a Morticia Addams black gown, pulled back her dark tresses and applied black lipstick and eyeliner. LTB was Buzz Lightyear in the special costume brought back by his daddy from a recent trip to Chicago. We went shopping. A toy and groceries were purchased, snacks for the Penn State football game watching later that afternoon for the Financier and me and the food needs for the week for Semi. The toy, a Ben Ten brain guy was a gift for LTB.
When we returned to the house we saw the Financier was there. His golf had been called off and he had spent some quality time at his favorite spot, Best Buy, scoping out electronic goodies for himself and the family. He had not bought anything though, just browsing. Since there was no golf outing, we decided to go on home and prepare for the college football game watching. My groceries were transferred to his car and we were homeward bound. The closest exit/entrance to the interstate from Semi’s house is a very high traffic area with several truck stops located near the ramps. It is not a problem on arrival, but on departure trying to merge into the steady stream of tractor trailer vehicles can be stressful. We usually take a leisurely drive down the state road that passes in front of the golf course and housing subdivision to get on the big highway in a less traveled area.
We had passed the club entrance and were chatting about LTB and his hijinks. Being grandparents is a great joy and we love being able to spend time with all the family. The sky was giving out a light drizzle, it was grey but not dreary. We finally came to the stop light at the intersection where we would be turning left to travel the short distance to the on ramp to go home. Our light was red. I was talking, as usual, about who knows what. The Financier was half listening, his normal attention level to a non stop motormouth. The arrow signal became green for us to turn. The Financier eased the car forward slowly. Suddenly, in a split microsecond of time, the shortest instant that can be imagined, he hit the brakes hard. At the exact same moment a white car traveling at a very high rate of speed rushed past the nose of our car, coming closer than the breadth of a hair. It had run the red light, not even slowing down a little, and did not slow down after the near miss. There were cars at all four sides of the criss crossing roads, all waiting their turns to go, that witnessed this. After a moment the Financier moved ahead, made his turn and continued the drive home.
This event cannot be erased from my mind. There was no time for a life to be replayed during this almost catastrophic scene. What does keep replaying is the vision of impact that did not happen. Glass breaking, blood splattering, violence beyond measure. It would have squarely hit the driver’s side of our vehicle, which is equipped with only front airbags. There is nothing that would have saved my dear Financier, my beloved husband of more than thirty-five years, from the force of the impact with the high rate of speed with which the driver of the light ignoring car was zooming. It plays over and over in my brain. Yet here we are, unhurt, living continues.
After losing all of my family members, with each loss, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunt, mother, father and brother, the very precious existence of life’s essence, awareness, consciousness, the miracle of it all has been felt in our very fiber. What a gift, and the truth of my mother’s favorite saying, “Life is too short”, is felt constantly. I am now in the limbo of watching life go by, like a spectator. Movement, forward progession, onward, never stopping, whether you are there to participate or not, life continues. The world turns. I am bogged down in analysis of each moment, each tick of the clock. Time itself will sand the memory, smooth the sharp edges, let us get on with it. Yet it, this brush with our own mortality, and more importantly the mortality of the Financier shouldn’t be forgotten.
The Financier was and still is an athlete. He played college baseball at Penn State, was the team captain. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school, back when it was possible to play more than one sport well. All of that was before I met him. He has quick reflexes, faster than anyone I have ever known. If you were at a ballgame, he would be able to reach over and catch the ball, preventing you from getting hit in the face with it. If you fell, he could catch you. He once fell off the ladder at our present house while doing some painting, his foot slipped off the rung because he was wearing inappropriate footwear. Instead of hitting the deck and breaking an arm or worse, he did a back flip to land on his feet, kicking off said footwear midair. Age is slowing him down only slightly, it has already slowed me to a snail’s pace, but he saved us both that day. I asked him how he could see that the white car was not slowing down, was going to run the light and manage to stop in time. It happened so fast. He replied that he always looks both ways before proceeding. I pray, dear readers, that you always do the same. And don’t forget to savour each moment to the fullest. Life’s too short.