You often hear the phrase “my life passed before my eyes.” I just always wondered how does that work? Which events pass first? Is it the happy highlights? Or maybe the chances left squandered? Which memories take precedence? Will it be in chronological order?
Would I relive the first terrifying time I skied downhill after falling off the chair lift? Would I see myself in my Perkin’s Pancake House waitressing during a bar rush In the 80’s? I really never want to see that brown bibbed wraparound uniform ever again. I mean, who picked that really? But I did make a lot of money at that job no thanks to the uniform! I think it had more to do with diners who were hungry after disco dancing and drinking. They tended to be fairly free with their money.
Hopefully, I would catch a glimpse of my parents; I sure would like to see them again. Maybe, I would see my wedding day again. Or the birth of any of my three kids. Well, maybe not the actual birth - I have no desire to relive that but to see them as toddlers again would be fun.
Especially my Ally – she was driving that day when I had that “life passing” moment. I remember her as a toddler chasing valiantly after her two big brothers trying mightily to hang with them no matter what they were doing. Hard to forget how the boys would huddle protectively around their green turtle sandbox where they would have created an entire city using their matchbox cars only to have Ally come crashing in and erase the entire set-up. She just wanted to be there too and they would have let her except for her destructive nature.
Ally was driving that day. She has been driving for about five months. It generally is me that takes her for driving practice. I will not lie. She has scared the devil out of me a number of times. I have reminded her gently well, no not gently, that the car needs to be on all four tires when turning left. She is improving though. I know this because I am grabbing the armrest less frequently.
That day Ally had driven on the expressway for the first time. She drove to her doctor’s appointment and was on the way back home handling the expressway traffic very well, changing lanes with confidence. I was breathing easily. We approached a 35 mph zone and without reminders she decreased her speed. Up ahead I noticed with interest a mother duck and five babies marching sturdily across the road. About the same time I noticed, the approaching car must have noticed them also. The car swerved to miss the ducks and then swerved back losing control in the process. Before you know it, the back end of the minivan was heading directly for us. I reached out towards Ally and froze just watching the car.
That’s when I started to think about what might happen. It looked to be about to crash into my brand new jeep..the first new car we have bought in over 25 years, that seemed a bit unlucky. Then I thought well, she won’t make the soccer game later that evening if this car hits us..and she just got back to playing after a knee injury also unlucky. A few more fleeting thoughts went through my mind. As if in truly slow motion, I looked at Ally. She had calmly brought our car to a stop and as she did, the approaching car skidded right past our bumper and ended up facing the other direction on the side of the right next to us. How that car missed us is anyone’s guess.
In shock, I looked at Ally. What she said sounded straight out of ZuZu’s mouth in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“You know Mom, Daddy says …never swerve for anything smaller than a fox. That women shouldn’t have done that.” That is good to know. I burst into tears. She was so calm and I was darn near hysterical. She patted my hand and said, “Let’s drive into Walgreens and park for a moment so you can calm down.”
Can’t really question her driving skills; she did everything right that day. I don’t think it is true that your life passes in front of you. Instead I saw the future where my daughter is a strong, competent, capable individual who can handle whatever life throws her way. That was a great image to experience. Maybe a little bit, I saw the one who will comfort me as I grow older (like I did for my parents). That is a time I really can wait for.
But seriously, can we all agree that, in spite of being cute and adorable, you should definitely not swerve to avoid ducks when they are crossing a major highway? There is just too much that can go wrong. Luckily for us and momma duck who also made a poor decision, everything went right instead.