I was heading to the movies, it was a Sunday, it was sunny. My mother was driving, and my brother was in the front seat, because I prefer sitting in the back. The buildings and cars whizzed passed us: the fruit market, the green car at the intersection to our right pulling out behind us, the trees waving at us as we went. We came to a major intersection and stopped at a red light, only one car was in front of us. We were probably chatting about something or another, waiting patiently for the light to change.
Then it hit.
A car rear ended us going at some unlawful speed, my head lashed and hit the seat in front of me, my world shook and stopped for a moment. The first thing I heard was my mother asking if we were ok, a voice I was happy to hear along with my brother’s in response. I checked myself to make sure I wasn’t seriously injured, and then, for some reason, I had an uncontrollable urge to get out of the car, maybe because I was afraid of the car exploding, maybe because I wanted to make sure my legs were working.
Before I knew it, we were standing on the median of the lane we were in, and noticed that, as I turned my aching neck, the car in front of us had also been rear ended by our car from the impact of the first car.
The car that had hit us was in ruins. The large man behind the wheel was obviously not wearing a seat belt, a point given away by the spider web crater of broken glass on the front windshield where his his head had crashed into. Blood was splattered around the driver’s area.
I realized that if I weren’t wearing my seatbelt, I probably would have been seriously injured, and ever since then, I understood why we were constantly lectured on on this matter. No lecture could have ever been as powerful as this experience.
I think it was my brother that pointed out this almost disturbing fact: the car that crashed into us was the green car at the intersection. Nature has a wierd sense of humor.
Looking at our car, it was obvious the Toyota was done for, but we were fortunate: we had a bike rack on the back of our car, no bikes were on it but this large metal pillar probably saved us a ton of damage in terms of absorbing some of the impact.
The lady we crashed into had a small amount of damage done to the rear end of her car, but we were fortunate enough to know her from church, so there was no arguing or anything. The ambulance showed up, and I think some police were there but I can’t quite remember, nor did I care.
I had a movie to get to.
It’s curious how tragic events blossom the richest life experiences one could ask for. My mom asked if I still wanted to go to the movies, and I was certain that I wanted to, despite the aching in my neck and the inability for our car to move. I was lucky enough to get a ride to the theater from the lady we bumped into, and my mother and brother got a ride home.
I was meeting some people to go see Finding Nemo, and I can’t explain in words how happy I was, for everything. My life, my legs, my family, my ability to see a movie… everything was pure joy. I don’t think I ever enjoyed a movie more. I didn’t tell anyone about it for awhile, so my friends must have been wondering why I had a smile plastered on my face while I stood in the lobby waiting for them. It didn’t matter that the car was totaled, or that my neck ached, or that I probably looked like a mess, or that people might have been staring at me. I was alive, and I was happy, and that’s all I knew for a decent portion of time. It was awesome.
I learned that day how fragile our lives were, how at any moment they could be changed, usually for the worse. I realized how thankful I should be for everything I have, and how often I take things for granted.
It was, ironically, a great experience.