It was that pre-dawn light, where it is difficult to see. Not quite dark, not quite light. That in between time.
All four of us were strapped in. Seatbelts on, car seats secure. Baby Ben was dozing, Rachel was trying to. We were in a rush too – because we’d left the kids’ birth certificates at home and had to turn around to get them. We saw up ahead two stationary cars in the middle lane of the highway with their hazards on. Odd. Very odd. But we didn’t want to slow down too much – bad people use strange tactics to hijack cars these days.
My husband braked a bit and then steered around them and that’s when we saw it. Another car, with no lights on, it must have been only a couple of metres in front of us. We were going to collide with them, head on. And that’s when my husband swerved, just slightly to the right, and we must have missed them by inches. It was over in an instant.
My life didn’t flash before my eyes. Time didn’t slow down. The only way I can describe it is that it got very very quiet. It was as if the universe became very very clear and very very still. This clarity means that I remember a lot of details. That the car was red. That it was a Toyota. That it was old and beaten up. That as we passed by it I saw two women, on the highway too.
I have a lot of questions. What was that car with no lights doing in the middle of the highway? Had it broken down? Just decided to stop? What were the women doing at that strange time of morning? What were the other two cars with their hazards doing – trying to help?
But in an instant we were past them. Ben didn’t even wake up. Rachel complained that the seat belt had “hurt her tummy” and both my husband and I were shaking. All our lives could have changed, in that single instant. We could have hit that car, or my husband could have overcorrected and steered us into the concrete balustrade or we could have injured those pedestrians very badly. But we didn’t. We missed them all.
So instead of a tragedy, this is just a story. But I can’t help feeling this is some sort of message. Before my Mom got diagnosed with brain cancer, a series of bad things happened to her. Near misses. A kudu bull jumped into the front of her car and the car had to be written off. She fell of a ladder and broke her wrist. And then the day before my wedding day, she touched a snake while weeding the garden, but she got away without being bitten. So you can imagine why I can’t help being suspicious about these things.
In the end my husband saved us. His reflexes prevailed and he protected his family. Things might have been different if I’d been driving.
Of course, it’s easy to overthink these things. Maybe it was simply a message from the universe that I need to hug my children a little closer to me, appreciate my husband, cherish my life.
I get it Universe, you don’t need to tell me again.
Image by Robyn Rose