Death, and Life, and a Split Second Between
Driving home Saturday afternoon, I rounded a curve to see the remnants of an accident that had just happened. The SUV blocked the road; while a motorcycle and debris were scattered on the other side of the two-lane road. I parked the car, grabbed my cell phone and keys and opened the car door. A woman’s piercing screams filled my ears. What happened here?
“Has anyone called for help?” I asked a man standing on the side of the road.
“Yes, I think so.”
As I walked toward the SUV, praying, I suddenly saw the result of the accident. It was almost more than my mind could handle and I wanted to turn and run. But I made myself ask “Is there ANYTHING I can do to help?”
“Not unless you can help calm the woman who was driving the car.”
Slowly I walked toward the sound of the screams and sobs. In my horror, I didn’t know what I could possibly say. So I said nothing, but sat down on a step next to the woman and gently stroked her back as she sobbed, words tumbling out a little at a time. “Why me? I checked my rear view mirror just before I turned and the road was clear.”
“I couldn’t figure out why my car wouldn’t move, because there was no one on the right side of my car. Then I got out of the car and, dear God …”
Speeding around the corner, a motorcyclist had crossed a double yellow line to pass her on the left, although she had her turn signal on. When she turned, he collided with her, with a fatal outcome.
“Maybe if I had come a little earlier …”
I sat with Jill for quite awhile. After emergency personnel arrived, an EMT approached. Sitting on the other side of Jill, she put a hand on her arm. “This was NOT your fault. You’re going to have to be told that many times but it’s true. Someone else made a bad choice and he’s paid for that choice with his life. But this is not your fault. It’s very important that you see a counselor or this could lead to PTSD. It’s a horrible thing to be involved in someone else’s death but it is not your fault.”
I sat with Jill, my spirit continually asking God for help, until her boyfriend arrived. Then I returned to my car to wind through the emergency vehicles, reverse direction, and take an alternate route home. My heart has been heavy since–for Jill, who has to live and deal with the agony of having been involved in a fatal accident that was out of her control; for the family of the man who lost his life so suddenly–were he and a sweetheart planning dinner out that night? Time with friends? Did he have children? And for the emergency personnel. Although they have dealt with tragic events before, I can’t imagine it ever becomes ‘normal’. And for the image that is seared on my brain.
And then I thought of Christians and others facing death, mutilation, beheading, by the evil forces ofb ISIS. How, Lord, do they cope? How do they retain any semblance of sanity?Following the death of my first husband, my uncle told me he believed Jesus was there, crying with me. He was right. Christ is not untouched by our pain.
I am reminded of my friend Connie’s words recently, that God knows every one of us because He made us, every cell. Far from being blind to our suffering, He calls us to bring it to Him, “casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.” God have mercy. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
After getting home to a long hug from my loving husband and attentive listener, I lay in his arms and cried. Then it was time to go to our sweet grandniece’s sixth birthday party. Enjoying the babies and children, seeing love, laughter, and hope, provided some balm for my hurting heart. And while I am incredibly grateful for that reminder of LIFE, I also want to remember that people are dying all around–physically, emotionally or spiritually–and I want to hear God’s heart and respond with love, prayer, care, and the Good News that Jesus loves us and wants a relationship with us that will continue eternally.
Am I still hurting? Yes, but I don’t hurt alone.
Life is frail. Make every day count; and let us consider our readiness to meet our Maker. We have no guarantees of tomorrow.