A little over a week ago I had an experience I wanted to blog about, but somehow, as usual, the frenetic activity of life took over and I haven’t had the clear brain space I needed to process the event and formulate what I wanted to say. It is probably a good thing because life threw me another unexpected, yet somewhat related curve this week. For those who don’t know, I have been undergoing physical therapy after surgery on my right knee. Surgery was necessitated by a fall and the following week playing slip and slide in the rain. Since surgery, the right knee has been doing wonderfully well, but the left has been complaining that it, too, was in the same fall and rain, so after physical therapy I was scheduled for an MRI.
The machine had a malfunction and I was asked to wait while the technician fixed it. No problem. Until I was strapped into the machine and I heard the technician tell the doctor the fateful words, “… the motherboard fried.” So the extra waiting around, only to get unstrapped and sent on for the day with a reschedule for the following Monday, seemed pointless. But I am a huge believer in things happening for a reason and this was no exception.
As I traveled down the freeway to the office, my interchange was coming up, so I had moved to the right. I entered the second lane from the outside and noticed a silver car pulled over to the side ahead and a woman in her early twenties standing in front of the car. As I passed by, she took a racing stance and checked traffic. A minivan was coming, but was a little ways back. The girl waited … until the minivan got closer and then ran in front of it. The van hit her and she flipped upside down and plummeted toward the tarmac.
I pulled over as quickly as I could and reversed down the shoulder. I left some space for the emergency vehicles I knew would be coming and walked back to the scene, certain I would be walking back toward a dead body. However, when I arrived at the scene, a man knelt in front of the girl and was talking to her, telling her to stay still and asking her questions. And she was answering. Amazed doesn’t begin to describe my feelings at that moment. I felt as if God had spoken and said it wasn’t this girl’s time yet.
While the lady who hit her was shaken, as anyone would be, I was so impressed by her faith and her selflessness. Every time she spoke, her first words were a prayer for the girl, concern that she would live. She had no opportunity to miss hitting the girl, and I cannot even imagine the nightmares she must be having from having done so. My heart went out to both the girl lying on the ground and the lady who hit her, knowing how easily it could have been any of the eyewitnesses who came back to wait for the authorities. Including me.
The girl was taken to the hospital with an assessment of a broken leg, some cracked ribs, and a cracked head but was expected to live. I was relieved for both the driver and her. Some have said the word “selfish” about the girl … in a way they are right, but I disagree with the sentiment. The urge to take your own life comes from a very dark place, where there doesn’t seem to be any other answer. True, the girl wasn’t thinking about the driver of the car, and the trauma she will now carry with her for the rest of her life. She wasn’t thinking about those who saw her rash act and would live with the memory of it. She couldn’t. The only thing she knew at that moment was the overwhelming depths of despair.
When the CHP, Police, ambulance, Paramedics, and fire engine arrived, I was asked to follow one of the officers past the minivan to make a written statement of what I saw. There, behind the van, were the girls moccasins in the road, side by side, both upright, yet facing opposite directions. Those moccasins, more than anything else at the scene, made an impact on me. The girl was lifted straight out of them, the car passed over them without disturbing them, no marks from the road on their surface. My husband’s grandmother believed that placing your shoes pointing opposite directions helps to ward off evil spirits. I saw them as a sign of God’s hand — no matter the darkness surrounding this girl, she had been saved for a purpose.
Those shoes caused me to take a moment to reflect on my own life and how fortunate I have been to continue living, despite a host of health issues. In fact, I had a down moment this week due to the MRI results which showed a cyst of some sort in the left knee. We now have to jump through a few more hoops in order to determine whether surgery is necessary. And I get rather tired of jumping through the hoops. But I will keep jumping through them because I know there is a purpose for my life and I want to fulfill it. Life becomes so very precious to those who have faced losing it. My hope and prayer is that the girl comes to that understanding because her problems have multiplied from what they were.
I understand where the girl was because I have had my own struggles with darkness and despair, but my innate curiosity saved me from making any sort of attempt to end my life. Because I could always decide to do that tomorrow or the day after that, but if I killed myself today, I wouldn’t be around to see whether tomorrow was a better day and I wanted to know what would happen tomorrow. I still do. Though it may sound trite, I wish every person struggling with despair could know deep inside it is temporary and things will ultimately get better — we just have to keep fighting and doing the best we can. Life is precious, don’t ever give up on it.