Saturday morning about a week ago, I started thinking about it and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d given Michelle a card or flowers. Realizing this, I started to worry that my “good husband” standing might have slipped a notch or two–not a good place to be. So, I told her I wanted to run out to McDonalds for an egg McMuffin and a diet coke–which I did. But on the way home, I also stopped at Central Market (our local version of Whole Foods) and picked out a card and a bouquet for her: daisies, lilies–happy springtime flowers.
On the way home, I congratulated myself on my soon-to-be improved husband status while I listened to the radio, waiting to turn left onto the small street that leads up the hill to our house.
The light turned green. I glanced left and right – clear both ways. No one was behind me, so I took a moment and set my McDonalds large diet coke into the vans drink holder. I looked up and just as I started to press the gas pedal, a 5000-pound Buick missile shot past from left to right. One second, it hadn’t been there. A half-a-beat later, there it was, hurdling downhill through the intersection at 45 miles an hour.
I can distinctly picture the older woman driving. She wasn’t looking at the road–her head was turned to her right and she was completely absorbed in a conversation with her husband (in the passenger seat). She was totally oblivious to the fact that she’d just blown the red light.
I stopped quickly–I really hadn’t even started moving yet. I didn’t have time to honk. She thundered past–never did see me. I probably took a deep breath, then I made the turn and the rest of the trip home (about 45 seconds) was thankfully uneventful.
Inside, I gave Michelle her flowers. Then, sort of “oh-by-the-way-listen-to-this”, I told her about the Buick. “Guess what? Just down at the bottom of the hill, I was about a half-second away from getting t-boned by some idiot.”
Up to that point, she’d been delighted by the flowers and the card (mission accomplished!) but when I told her what had happened, suddenly, her smile vanished. Then she started crying. Then it hit me and I probably started crying, too.
If I’d have been in my normal hurry and have pulled into the intersection when the light turned green a half-second earlier, the Buick would have broadsided me and, moving as fast as it was, the impact would have been devastating. The van would have simply disintegrated and there’s no way I’d have survived. I hadn’t done anything brilliant–I wasn’t even aware. The simple act of setting my diet coke into the van’s drink holder had probably saved my life. I was literally a half-second away from eternity.
This realization hit both of us hard–all our plans, all our dreams-everything would have spun around in an instant. The very idea was overwhelming. But it had almost just happened. Believe me, it took a few minutes to get back to normal.
There are three lessons I want to share from this. First, take nothing for granted–not your life, not your friends, certainly not your family. Life holds very few guarantees so best to make sure you carry no unfinished business. Don’t let your “good husband” or “good wife” or “good son or daughter” status slip. You might not have the opportunity to set things straight.
Second, don’t forget: somewhere out there, there’s a 5,000 pound Buick with your name on it. Your job is to make sure you find it before it finds you. Always be on the lookout!