“Everyone I know is okay,” he says with strange emphasis, “But there’s been an accident. John hit someone head-on and the person died.”
John (not his real name) is someone Ben works with. I know without asking that he must have been driving a very big truck.
I sit down on the steps and Ben tells me a few more details. Then he goes to the back yard to chop wood and collect himself. I head inside.
As the door closes behind me I hear Nora calling, “It’s time to WIPE!” She’s been pooping while we talked.
“Okay, I’m coming!”
“Mommy, are you home?”
“Yes, I am,” I call back in a sing-song voice as I kick off my shoes. I have never been happier to be around to wipe my daughter’s bottom.
It could have been Ben driving a big truck and unable to stop in time as an oncoming car crossed the center line.
It could have been me speeding toward a dump truck. It could have been my fatal lapse in judgment, trying to sneak a quick look at my phone.
What a great gift it is when danger gets just close enough to wake us up, but not fuck us up.
I tear some paper from the roll and bend over my daughter and let myself be grateful. Grateful to be momentarily safe and warm, grateful for a husband who shakes in empathy for a friend and a stranger.
I remind myself never to fall into the trap of thinking that my family has been spared for some special purpose. It hasn’t.
We’ve just been lucky so far.
Lucky, lucky, lucky.
Thanks, thanks, thanks.
May luck and gratitude be with you in the season to come.