Last month, I was hit by a car while crossing in the crosswalk. It was my turn to walk, and while I'm usually alert when crossing, that morning I was preoccupied with the errand at hand and the fact I'd be late for a phone appointment. I was making for the "walk" signal, while the little red car was making for me. It hit me and threw me to the pavement.
I don't want to relive that morning, but the upshot was that I broke my fibular head at the patella end, cracked my ribs, and got a nasty bump to the head. I didn't die, didn't get a concussion, and didn't even break my shiny new netbook. Tons of blessings to be counted from the encounter, and I named all I could think of in my diary. Because the incident could have been so much worse, and yet wasn't, I was oddly joyful, so happy to be alive.
But I acquired a complete fear of intersections which has been hard to deal with.
Last week I needed to cross the corner near my place to get to the Office Max for a cat5 cable. The signal changed and I started across, having eyeballed every driver and found it safe. Then, from the opposite side of the intersection came barreling an 18-wheeler signaling a left turn. Right into my position. I'd seen it approach and started waving and shouting even as it was getting near the intersection, but it was quickly becoming plain the truck was not going to stop. I turned and sprinted for the corner I'd just left - let me tell you that freaking hurt a lot but I wasn't paying much attention at the time, to be sure. I made it, as the truck barreled right through the spot where I'd just been.
Shaking with fury, I wished for something to throw at the truck, mind whirling with epithets. This incident happened so quickly that I still had crossing time according to the signal, so I completed crossing. I was halfway across the Office Max parking lot, still fuming, when I realized what had just happened. Had I not been hit by a car last month, I would surely have been hit by the truck last week.
And I would be dead. At that speed and tonnage, it's extremely doubtful I'd have been anything but a bag of broken bones.
This rocked me hard. So many feelings happened at once that I didn't know what do to with them and cried in the parking lot. Anger, fear, gratitude, awe, and confusion are the only ones I can name in hindsight. I shook while getting the cat5 cable. I shook while getting a burger at Carl's Jr. - comfort food impulse. I shook off and on the rest of the evening.
I'm still processing it, even today. Friday night I had a minor accident that re-injured my ribs and left me temporarily stranded in Wyoming. The accident could have been so much worse, and again I have a long gratitude list. But this time I'm not ecstatically grateful as I was when the car hit me, maybe because of all these confusing feelings and not knowing what to do with them. I am intentionally, yet grimly grateful, and don't get why. And I wonder - is this another case of adversity as preventative for death? Am I again being saved from something worse?