I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.
Last Wednesday I arrived at work at my usual time, via my usual route, much as I have done for over a DECADE now. Actually it's more like 14 of 15 years driving to this same office, day after day, week after week.
But last Wednesday, unlike most mornings, there were all manner of emergency vehicles and police cars on the scene as I arrived. Just to the west of my office the road traveling eastbound was closed, and as I pulled into my regular parking spot on the west side of my office building, the cop standing nearby was dramatically motioning for me to stop.
Alright already, I am stopping. I am parking. I work here. I'm no lookie-loo. Geesh.
But I knew from the amount of flashing lights and first responders that something had gone terribly wrong for someone that morning. I didn't see any bashed in cars, so I wondered about a shooting, or a downed motorcycle, or something else dire.
As the time went on, the road remained closed. The firetruck and ambulance left, but more police arrived and began to reconst whatever scene had unfolded before my arrival.
Mid-morning I got a text from my (first) ex-husband asking if I was okay. He works right next door.
It turns out that a woman in her forties had been hit by a car and killed. Not more than 25 yards from where I sit everyday. And only about 15 minutes prior to my arrival that day. (I can see why he inquired.)
I couldn't see the yellow body bag when I pulled up so near to her body, now lifeless. (Although it actually was probably not yet bagged when I arrived). It was behind the Jeep that had struck her.
The copyrighted photo is here: http://www.10news.com/news/pedestrian-struck-killed-near-qualcomm. (I park and work just a wee bit behind that white arrow.)
Thoughts of "it could have been me" swam through my head, along with those of sorrow and regret that I felt for both the victim and the driver. One life gone, the other forever changed, and not for the better.
That yellow body bag gave me pause. It made me think about how we're all rushing along to our deaths; so busy with weekday schedules and tight time tables and things-to-do-and-places-to-be.
It all changes in one instant. One flash of consciousness. Then gone.
That Friday, all of my girls had their last day of a 2-week Junior Theater camp, which means final performances. I had 3 places-to-be that afternoon, all of which overlapped, as none of the girls are in the same group. I managed to see all of two of the performances and some of the third, and afterward we enjoyed gorgeous Balboa Park for a bit.
The visceral impact that the yellow body bag had on me was somewhat faded by that point, as I sat with my kids with their ice cream cones. But it was brought right back to mind as I drove my happy and accomplished girls home.
Headed north on I5, minding our own business, a car came at high speed from the left side of us, skimming breathtakingly close to the front drive'rs side of my SUV. This man was determined to make the Sassafras exit, from I'm not sure how many lanes over. Less than a foot separated our safe arrival at home from who knows what fate. I was going between 65 - 70 mph, he had to be going at least 75, more like 80 mph. It would have been a mess, at 3:45 pm on a Friday on I5 downtown. We would not have been the only two cars involved.
My heart racing, I looked at my girls, also mouths' agape, and let out an audible sigh of relief. What a careless jackass! What a dramatic second reminder of how fleeting life is, within just a few days.
And both incidents came right after the online traffic school that I finally got around to taking, which was full of worst-case scenarios of both the pedestrian and high-speed highway driving variety.
I'm hoping the Universe is just tipping me off to slow down and pay attention and remember that life is precious and passing; to revel in each day and live it with purpose and passion (and joy!), and not to get to my lawyers office stat to get my affairs in order....