I’ve been going back and forth debating about whether or not to share this and decided I should since it’s something that’s really been on my mind.
On the 4th of July, my husband and I watched a woman die right in front of us.
We were on our way to see fireworks like everyone else that night. We had just left my brother-in-law’s house when we saw a guy and girl jump off a motorcycle and go running down the sidewalk beside us. They just dropped the bike on the ground and took off and I wondered what was so important that they couldn’t even park the bike. I looked away from them running for a second and saw a woman lying in the road right in front of us. I grabbed Darren’s arm and told him to “Stop! Stop! Stop! There’s a woman in the road!” He stopped the car right in front of her.
I looked back at the man and woman from the motorcycle as they ran past our car screaming. There were parts of another motorcycle laying all over the road and a car that looked like it had been hit. I started to dial 911 but before I could even put the number through an ambulance pulled in beside us.
The woman lay in front of us, eyes closed, motionless. We were hoping she was just knocked out. We thought since the ambulance got there immediately, maybe she would be okay. She wasn’t. She died right there in the middle of the road.
The woman on the motorcycle collided head on with the vehicle in front of us. The impact was so great it broke her bike into pieces and killed her almost instantly.
I found out later the man who jumped off the other bike was the woman’s husband.
I watched a man watch his wife die in the middle of the road; I can’t get that out of my head.
Watching someone die stops you in your tracks. Death makes you look at life in gripping detail.
This accident happened three days before mine and Darren’s anniversary and this woman’s death was heavy on our minds and in our words often as we spent that weekend away together.
We look back now and realize how different all could have been.
We look back and realize if we had left the house even seconds sooner, we could have been the car that hit her. It’s hard to comprehend the timing; my brother-in-law left seconds before us. We had to turn the car around and left right after him. Somehow, in the time we turned around, the car involved in the accident got between my bro-in-law and us.
How does it happen that a fatal accident occurs between our two vehicles only seconds down the road from each other and none of us were hurt or involved?
I think about all these things anew today as I hear about the shooting in Colorado. What grips me most is the story of a fellow WordPress blogger, Jessica Redfield (blog), who was killed last night in the theatre shooting. Just a month before, Jessica had dodged a mall shooting that took place minutes after she stepped outside (read full story here) . In her blog post about the mall shooting Jessica said:
“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.”
And now, just a month later, in yet another random shooting, Jessica is dead. She was one of us—a writer, a blogger, a WordPresser, a girl living life and telling stories—just like us.
And now she’s gone like so many others who lost their lives last night.
It all makes me stop and think about how delicate our short lives are. I don’t share all this to scare people. I share it because, like Jessica, after I watched a woman die, I realized how easily it could have been me. I realized that I don’t know when I’ll live my last day or take my last breath.
After watching that woman die, I’ve seen myself differently in the day-to-day. When I get upset at Darren over something stupid, I’m struck by the reality that my petty, frustrated words could be the last ones I ever speak to him.
During the day before we came up on that accident, Darren and I argued about who would go from work to pick up lunch. We complained about the heat and the traffic. Those words could have been the last ever spoken to each other.
I’m so thankful they weren’t.
I’m so thankful I got to snuggle up with him that night and tell him I was sorry for my words earlier in the day.
I’m so thankful we got to spend that weekend together celebrating our anniversary.
I’m so thankful for every moment and every breath we get together.
Because, as much as I don’t want to think about it, we never know what words will be our last words. We never know—and that very uncertainty has sunk into my soul.
When I catch myself being petty, I must stop and realize that I don’t know and there’s not a moment to waste on anything but love.
My heart goes out to everyone involved in the Colorado shooting.
God give them grace.