At approximately 12:30a.m., Christmas Eve, Kwabs and I finished wrapping the last of our gifts.
He went to the basement to retrieve the stocking stuffers and I went upstairs to complete last minute chores.
Suddenly a loud crash reverberated through the house. Kwabs and I screamed. We ran to the first floor of the house, looked at one another, and shouted, “WHAT HAPPENED?!”
Kwabs looked out the front door and loudly exclaimed there had been a car accident. I followed his gaze and there, in the center of the street, in the midst of a sea of shattered glass, was a car lying on its roof. I started screaming again. We both ran to get our shoes. Kwabs ran to the car and I, in my stockinged feet (I forgot to put on my shoes), ran to a little girl who was sitting on the curb crying hysterically. Her small frame shook as she wept…she couldn’t have been older than five. I frantically asked her if she was okay; fortunately, she had no obvious bruises. As I attempted to console her, the driver (her dad) ran over, picked her up and tightly hugged her, while profusely apologizing. She was inconsolable.
Tears came to my eyes as I watched the scene unfold. I asked the little girl’s father if he was okay. Through alcohol infused breath he replied, “Yes.” I then assured him that I was calling the police for help. He followed me to the porch of my home and said, “No, please don’t call them.” It was too late; I was already on the phone with the dispatcher. My heart ached for both of them. I imagined the guilt and fear that was going through his mind and the fear and confusion she felt. Within minutes our neighbors began coming out of their homes; five or six police cars arrived followed by a fire truck, and an ambulance.
The entire incident made me feel anxious and helpless. Hours later, like a broken record, the scene kept replaying in my mind. However, what stayed with me longer than the memory of the scene was that within hours there was no evidence that the accident occurred. The ambulance and firetruck left. The victims left. The police cars left. The car and its mangled parts were towed away. The bystanders returned to their homes. The street returned to its normal calm. People drove down our street a few hours later oblivious to the chaos that had just ensued and the lives that had been impacted.
The incident caused me to reflect on the value many of us place on our lives. We think we are important. We think if anything were to happen to us time would stand still. And yet the reality is…it doesn’t and it won’t. Sure there will be those who will mourn with or for us but-by and large-the world will continue the same as it did in the seconds, minutes and hours before any tragedy we experience.
This year, as I contemplate what 2016 will bring, I am vowing to make my life count. I vow to be a better me and to make a positive contribution to my community. I want to leave an indelible mark on the world…a mark that can’t be towed away in a few hours. What are your plans for 2016?