It sounds goofy to say out loud or in print. But there's really nothing funny about it.
I almost died last night.
Sometimes people say that to be dramatic. As an exaggeration. But I say it only to be accurate.
We spent a fun day yesterday at the local theme park with Bryan's family. They're out here dropping off his little sister who's starting school out here at the end of the month. We stayed up at the park all day and, despite only getting one 45 minute nap, Olivia was so good. She was happy and laughing and chill the entire time. Bryan's dad doesn't do rides anymore, so he volunteered to watch Olivia while Bryan and I enjoyed some. By the end of the day Olivia had Bryan's dad just wrapped around her little finger. (Not to mention her Nana and the doting line of aunties and uncles there to entertain her every whim.) When we were getting ready to go Olivia was starting to get a little fussy, so we stopped passing her around between aunts and uncles and grandparents and I was just holding her. But for the first time that Bryan or I can remember she didn't want me. Nope, she just wanted her grandpa. We don't think he fully appreciates the high compliment he received.
Well, Olivia had been amazingly good all day, but her regular bed time is at 8:30pm and around 8:00pm she finally started to lose it. So we said goodbye to the gang and headed back home. The sun was just setting as we headed out. It was a beautiful, memorable sunset. It looked like something fake you'd see in the movies; you could actually see rays of sun bursting out. Olivia cried for a little bit, and then fell asleep. Bryan and I were just talking, heading home.
Then, all of a sudden, Bryan started to slow down as quickly and carefully as he could. The cars ahead of him were significantly slowing down for traffic. NO. They weren't slowing down. It wasn't traffic. Those cars were SWERVING. Everywhere. All at once. That was when we saw it. A white car. No headlights. Coming right at us.
It's hard to explain, but everything sort of stopped for a moment. My mind froze. Perhaps it was preparing for the worst. It had seen what was coming and knew it would be shutting down soon. Fading out. If I had been driving I don't think I would have had the sense to do what Bryan did. I think I would have just stayed frozen. I'm so, so glad Bryan was driving.
Things didn't stop in his brain. First he swerved hard and fast to the left, felt that he was starting to lose control of the car, and then corrected it by swerving just as hard and fast to the right.
Then it was over. The car had passed. We were all okay.
Olivia woke up in the back seat and started crying. We told her it was all okay now. I kept looking in the rear view mirror, trying to see what was going on behind us. Hoping and praying with all my heart that we wouldn't see signs of a huge accident. But the night was black and I couldn't see anything except a sea of headlights. I called 911 right away, but when I told them where we were the dispatcher asked if I was calling to report a car driving the wrong way. I said, "Yes," and she quickly ended the conversation, telling me it had already been reported and they had already sent help.
A moment later we saw cop cars. At least half a dozen cop cars spaced a few minutes apart, lights and sirens on, driving on the other side of the freeway toward that car. I kept hoping and praying there wasn't a fatality behind us. But with that many cop cars passing us that soon it seemed almost certain there had to have been an accident.
We spent the rest of the drive home afraid another car was going to come at us at any moment. I can only compare that feeling of helpless panic to the way I felt on and just after September 11, 2001. This terrible, horrible, deathly frightening thing just happened. And it could happen again. And I won't know when and I won't know where. God, protect me.
I felt a great sense of relief when we finally got off the freeway. When we got home we checked the news right away. In the traffic section there was a note of the fact that an accident had occurred, but no information about it. It was just in the list of traffic delays for others to avoid. It seemed so cold to see it that way. To us, it could have been our lives. But to the news at that moment and to others it was nothing but a traffic delay. Bryan and I were in a car accident last year. It wasn't serious and nobody was hurt, but it still ruined the vacation we were headed out on and cost us a lot of money. Every time since then that we've seen or heard of an accident we've felt differently about it. We both think, "Somebody is having a terrible day." And I always say a little prayer in my heart that nobody was hurt and that it will be okay. It seems like the traffic updates ought to at least report it a little differently. "Someone is having a terrible day at such and such a place. So it means you might be late to your job interview, but you can at least be glad you're all right." Or, "Somebody just died here. Now a lot of people are having an unimaginably hard day. And while the slow traffic you'll experience will soon be a thing of the past, their families will never forget what happened today."
This morning when I checked the news again it had a five minute blurb on what happened. Apparently the person driving the wrong way was a woman who they think was under the influence of prescription medication. And we were right that there was an accident, but I was relieved to find out that all she had hit was a highway patrol car and that the officer driving it seems to be okay. The bit on the news said that the officer was able to walk onto the ambulance himself and seems to be all right. And that the woman was treated for a few bumps and bruises and was then taken into custody. (I do like to give credit to my sources, so if you're interested you can watch the clip and/or read the article HERE.)
A little while after we got home last night, just before we went to bed, I finally cried about it. In fact, I sobbed. You try not to, but you really can't help thinking of all the terrible things that could have happened. Especially, I kept thinking that I could have died or that Bryan and I both could have died. We were sitting in the front seats. It would have hit us head-on, and at the high, freeway speeds we were going, we really both could have died. Olivia could have been orphaned last night. That thought kept rolling over and over in my head until finally it all came out in sobs.
Bryan told me that he knew it wasn't just him driving our car. I knew what he meant. He had had divine help. So I know it's true when I say that I could have died last night. But I also know that Heavenly Father didn't want for that to happen. He still wants me here. He still wants us together here. And when I know that, then I know that Heavenly Father still has work for me to do here. Maybe not anything big by the world's standards. Perhaps its just doing what I've already been doing. Taking care of my family. Spending time with them. Loving them and being loved by them. Spending my days with Bryan and Olivia. Serving in my calling at church. Getting to know my neighbors. Taking care of my body. Studying the scriptures every morning so I can try and know better what He wants me to do. Just one of these things might be little. But all of these things together is what I know I've been sent here to do.
I feel so blessed to be here. And to keep on doing just that.