That’s How It Goes

24 Jul

A heads up. This post might just be a deluge of random feelings and events that have occurred recently. Be prepared for major rambling. It’s ok to get bored and read something else. I won’t be offended. I would probably do the same.

Today, I left work to drive to a friend’s house to drop off our lease for next year’s housing. She lives all the way in Kettering, so I left the base on the McClerron Memorial Skyway, took off down I-675, and exited at Dorothy Lane. Dorothy Lane is a pretty busy thoroughfare, but I lucked out and passed through it without difficulty. I got to her house, found she was not home, and turned around to repeat the process in reverse. I’m going into detail because, in reflection, this is exactly how my mind analyzed the events of this evening. I thought about each step in detail, because I need the focus. I find that a great tragedy of life is my tendency to just gloss over the small moments and focus on the big. That’s life. That’s how it goes.

I turned off of her street, back onto Dorothy Lane, and headed west back to 675. I passed California Dr. An ambulance drove by and I pulled over. I passed Purdue Rd. A fire truck drove by and I pulled over. I passed the BMX park. Another ambulance drove by and I pulled over.

As I drove up the massive hill towards the intersection at County Line DR, I noticed something different from when I first drove down Dorothy Lane. There were three fire trucks, three police cars, and two ambulances lined up at the tope of the hill, blocking the over 5 lanes of traffic, all except for mine. Traffic slowed to a crawl as I inched up the hill, and at the summit, a red light caught me at the stop bar.

I saw something that has since turned into one of those moments that won’t be glossed over for me. A black SUV was pulled into an adjacent parking lot. The front end of it was crunched all the way back, but the driver appeared fine. He was talking to a paramedic. I looked to my left anxiously. A beige Oldsmobile was sitting diagonally in the turn lane on the other side of County Line DR. Paramedics were swarming the vehicle. And inside was a feeble old man. His handicapped tag was still hanging from the rearview. His eyes were closed and his head was rolled back against his seat. The left front wheel was lying on the ground, the entire left half of the car punched in and marred with black paint. It looked like the car just started to crumple into the ground and was awkwardly listing to one side.

It was a pretty horrific accident. I was an involuntary witness to the aftermath. The paramedics pulled a white sheet out of the back of the ambulance and draped it over the driver’s side window. Maybe they were just covering him so he wouldn’t get hit with the glass and sparks when they cut his door off. But all I could think is that he was dead. In just a second, an un-glossed over second, that man’s whole existence changed. He didn’t ask for that SUV to maul the side of his Oldsmobile. He was probably going to turn right onto Dorothy Lane – maybe he was going to the grocery, or maybe he was going to drive all the way down to Ackerman DR and go home. Wherever he was going, he never made his destination. In an instant, the plans for the rest of his life, as long or as short as it turned out to be, changed. And it was all in an instant. That’s life. That’s how it goes.

I won’t lie, I teared up a little. I won’t lie. It was actually a lot. I won’t lie. It was actually more like sobbing. This morning, I was speaking with my counselor about my Uncle Dave. He died nine years ago as a result of a car accident. He had muscular dystrophy just like my little bro, and he had a breathing tube because he had respiratory failure. In an instant, in that car accident, his breathing tube was severed. He lost oxygen to his brain, and as a result, he lost all cerebral function. He never woke up. My mom had to turn off his life support. In an instant, on July 4, 2001, everything changed for my family. But that’s life. That’s how it goes.

When I saw that man, all I could think of was my uncle. Did either of these guys ask for that instant that didn’t go according to plan? They didn’t know what was going to happen when they woke up in the morning? Did their families know they might never see them again. My family had no idea. I was ten years old, living in Oakwood, Georgia. I probably went swimming the day Uncle Dave was in that car accident. I probably played cars with Alan, I probably drew some puppies, I probably chased a few butterflies. My mom probably was reading, or painting a picture, or working out with Denise Austin. My grandma, the driver of the car, probably woke up that day to pleasant sunshine. She probably remarked that it would be a nice day to go out to lunch, or sit outside and enjoy their garden. None of us knew.

What I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that, in all honesty, every moment is incredibly precious. God has larger plans than any person around. His plans for us might not always go in accordance with what we are expecting, and in an instant, everything can change.

So live with passion. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Make sure they know it. I have plenty of baggage, but perhaps one of my largest sources of turmoil is the fact that I never told Uncle Dave how much he meant to me, how much he inspired me to change this planet, how much I absolutely loved him. I was ten; I never considered that such tumultuous things could happen in my pleasant, peaceful life. In reality, these things can and do happen. Before they do, never let the people you love slip too far away.

I’m thinking about the effects of rapid, instantaneous change a lot recently. Because, here goes – I’m going to be baptized on July 30. (Annette, does this count if my parents read our blog? haha). I know it’s going to be great. I know it’s going to be the best decision ever. I know all the things I have read over the past few months are certainly legitimate. I know I will stop making all of those horrible life decisions that keep me awake every night with sick feelings of guilt and shame. And I know my life will be BETTER.

But I know what instantaneous change does. It throws you face to face with uncertainty, whether you like it or not. I don’t want to lose my family over this. I don’t want them to resent me or think I’m crazy. And I want to be able to communicate all of this freely and easily. Easy seems to be a rare and elusive creature these days. That’s life. That’s how it goes.

So, in summation, please wish me luck. That is me being a little selfish – I want all of your luck, ALL of it! (I think I need it that badly).

But on another more important note, take a few chances to look at all of the details. Refuse to gloss things over. When the big moments come, the ones that will shake you and leave you wondering what exactly happened, you will regret forgetting all of the minor events subtly shaping your life. Count every single second, and every single person, and every single breath, as the most important one yet. Life is honestly too fragile and too turbulent to do otherwise. That’s how it goes.


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