“Stop, kids, stop!” Ivan never shouts, but he did this weekend. We were spectators in our own nightmare: a vacant crosswalk, a “WALK” pedestrian light, an oncoming car. This time the pedestrians were two pre-teen girls. But this time Ivan was there.
Oddly enough, we were at that intersection because I’d been hit by a car three years ago. Grad school ensures I’m mentally exhausted every day, but relegation to a tiny apartment grates on my soul eventually, and outings provide my main emotional release. The intersection of Daylight Savings Time with my neurological impediments demands these excursions take place before 4 pm, which has been tricky with my parents’ recent vacation and Ivan’s hectic schedule. Hence my cabin fever and our decision to give me one last espresso shot before another week indoors. This outing was questionable since I was in the middle of a migraine spike, but I decided 20 minutes of fresh air and sunshine was worth it if we got my coffee to-go.
We heard the sirens before the police car rounded the bend on Raleigh road.
I closed my eyes to avoid the lights.
Looking back, this was the grace of God. I don’t think I could have watched the scene unfold, especially since it was too close to my own. Like me, the girls were exiting their apartment complex. They were following the traffic signal. Unlike me, they saw the car coming, but what were they supposed to do? We always tell kids to get out of the way when police turn on their sirens. If the girls ran back, there were cars. If they tried to dart to the other side, they’d be running directly into the police car’s path. True, officers are supposed to scan intersections for pedestrians, but these girls were tiny and would be easy to miss. Ivan also says they looked frazzled. What if they froze, then dashed in front of the oncoming car too late? Thankfully they hesitated in front of our Yaris long enough for Ivan to shout for them to stop. Whether his voice penetrated the thin windshield (very possible given the number of times it’s cracked), or God reached down and held the girls in place, we’ll never know. What we do know is they stopped.
I opened my eyes as we made the U-turn and continued on our way to Peet’s. Unlike my story, there would be no ambulance blocking that U-turn for the rest of the afternoon, no frantic families searching for their children. The two girls were giggling as they turned into the shopping center across from our complex. I wondered if they even realized what almost happened. It occurred to me that their fragile bodies would have been even less likely to survive that impact than mine had been.
Both Ivan and I were silent for most of the way to Peet’s. We briefly discussed if he could have done anything differently. No, not really. Honking was too dangerous. That might have spurred them forward into the police car’s path. Rolling down the window might have been too slow. Ultimately it was a split second of action, and the result was in God’s hands. Neither of us asked the weightier questions. Was there a split second of action in my story? Did anyone reach out? Call out? The security camera’s footage suggests not. Why? Why had I been alone? We’ll never know. What we do know is that, like those girls, my story is in God’s hands. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” ~ Job 1:21