Thursday, December 10, 2009

Life Can Change In An Instant

I slowly drove past a row of parked cars, on the lookout for a parking spot near where D goes to pre-school. The parking slots were unusually full for a weekday and for that time of day. I'd never had to drive so far up the street to find an empty slot before. Finally, after driving past about fifteen cars, I found an empty space.

I turned the steering wheel to the right, slowed down, pulled the car in and put my foot on the brake to stop the car. I have no idea what happened next, but my car jumped the curb, zoomed past a tree and over the grass and plants and crashed into the outside wall of a house. In an instant, the front of my car was crushed, the windows and the lower part of the wall of a house had buckled in. I still get shivers thinking about this and I still don't know how I got so lucky, but I was not hurt and the house I had crashed into was empty at that time.

I clambered out of the car and called emergency. A whole bunch of fire trucks came and repaired the house the best they could. One of the officers stayed with me the whole time, explaining to me what they were doing, making sure I was OK. One of the other firemen gingerly backed my car out on to the street. A few of the people who lived close by stood with me, got me to sit down and got me water and one of them even drove her car behind mine all the way to my house to make sure I got home OK. In the final analysis, no one was hurt, everything that was damaged could be put back together to its earlier state or even better.

A few weeks ago, a family we know through the kids' after-school activities was not so lucky. The children survived the accident, but the parents did not. The randomness, the suddenness and the finality of what had happened and the tragedy that had visited the lives of such young children (two of whom are the same ages as my own) left me breathless. When we saw one of the children a few days ago, I thought I detected her gaze lingering on a man who walked past her with his arm wrapped around his own little girl.

Children suffer all over the world. When I hear or read stories about such suffering, it leaves me angry and searching for ways to try to help. But with this incident, there was no anger, just sadness and an inability to understand and a deep sense of inadequacy at not being able to help or make things better in any way at all.

It is a cliche to say this, but the days and weeks have rolled on. We've seen at least one of the girls going about her activities (although haven't seen her the last few days). But every so often it gives me pause. We take so many things for granted and we behave as if life as we know it will continue long into the future. We plan for the changes we anticipate.

And really, that is the only way to live. No one can go on living expecting and preparing for dreadful things to happen every day.

But...

29 comments:

Sands said...

I can so relate to that Suj. When a similar incident happened to me with my older one in the back seat it took me months before I could muster up the courage to drive into that intersection again.

karrvakarela said...

Hope you're feeling better now. Take care!

Laksh said...

Gave me the shivers just reading this. Hope you are doing OK. Take care.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Thats such a tragedy,
While I am glad nothing serious happened in your case, the other story brings tears.
How are the kids managing? Is one of the parent taking care ? Its so hard ....

dipali said...

Thank God you are alright. Life is so uncertain, and yet we have to live as there will always be a tomorrow for us and our dear ones, knowing fully well that even the next second can change our lives forever. Take care.

Kavi said...

So glad that you are ok and all is well. And yes, life can change in an instant !

"just sadness and an inability to understand and a deep sense of inadequacy at not being able to help or make things better in any way at all."

Thats exactly how i feel. And i know things arent going to change by switching off the news channnel. But often times thats what i end up doing.

Once again, very glad that you are doing ok...

The Things We Carried said...

I am so glad you are okay!

Thank you for emailing me! I decided to keep the old blog and hope you will still visit.

Marites said...

That is one very scary incident. Thank God, you're ok and nobody's hurt.

Subhashree said...

Glad you are ok, Sujatha. Other story is heart-wrenching. May God give the kids strength to carry on. Take care.

B o o said...

take care, Suj. gave me shivers, this post. I feel exactly like you ve said in the last few lines. more when im behind the wheel. :(

Uma said...

Hope you are OK now...
Parents leaving young kids behind is one of the worst things that can happen!

I love Lucy said...

I am so glad you are ok, Suj.

Sujatha said...

Sands, I know that feeling all too well. Glad you are all right.

KK, thanks.

Laksh, I am, thanks.

CA, I think the kids are going as well as they could be. It is very hard.

Dipali, so true. Thank you.

Kavi, thank you.

Meredith, thank you and I'm so happy you are continuing to write. Take care and chin up! And of course, I'll be reading!

Marites, thank you.

Shubhashree, thank you and I know how you feel.

Boo, thank you and you take care too.

Uma, I am fine now, thank you. I know what you mean.

ILL, thank you. Glad to see you here even if it took this post. :)

Doli said...

oh my God! hope you are okay now! take care...

Chandrika Shubham said...

I am glad that you are fine. Such accidents sometimes really disturb us from inside. Take care.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hello, dearest Sujatha...You are posting again!!! I'm so very glad...but what a traumatic time you have had...I'm so glad you were safe...as glad as I am sorry for the children whose parents were recently killed...So heartbreaking...my heart grieves for them...Your post is raw and real...and a reminder to us all to "carpe diem--seize the day!" Love you! Janine XO

Minal said...

Sujatha: Don't stay away from the blog too long! First thing are you alright now? I got scared reading the first 2 paras.
As for the remaining bit I know how it is -I've seen it happen to a very close family. Our neighbours. The grandpa passed away and within 4 days the elder son and only son-in-law both in their 30s died in a hit-and run case. The son had a 2 year old daughter and the son-in-law 2 sons aged 14 and 9. It's heart wrenching and you are right you feel only sadness cause you can't do much. This was 13 years ago - the family has moved on and the kids are doing well but whenever I meet my neighbour - that 2 yr old girl who is 15 now - I can sense the pain of never knowing her father.

I love Lucy said...

Oh I am here all the time. It took me this post to leave a comment thats all. But that will change from now on. I have decided to come out of hiding :)

Sujatha said...

Doli, I am. Thank you.

Chandrika, thank you. Yes, I understand that now. Especially the second incident I wrote about bothers me a lot.

Janine, that is a lesson I learn every time I read your blog. You're a good teacher.

Minal, yes I am. Thanks. And the story you've recounted, that's the sad, sad part but inevitable.

ILL, I like that very much!

Frankie Anon said...

Oh, Sujatha, I've been away from blogging and reading blogs for ages, and this is the first one I have opened since returning to the blogosphere. How horrible! I'm so glad you are ok. I get shivers thinking about what could have happened.

Life is so random. An old acquaintance of mine learned not long ago that her husband has cancer and has been given 6 months. They have two little ones under age 5. The mind numbs. I don't even know what to say.

Nino's Mum said...

Got shivers just reading this... am so glad you were not hurt, Suj, hope you're better now.
Its all the more eerie because we just spent the afternoon catching up with a friend who lost her husband in a car crash two years ago. It was his every Sunday routine, that drive to the golf course, and he hadn't even woken her or her then three-year-old to say bye. I could see that little boy's eyes when I read about the kids.
Take care. Much love. Big hug.

naperville mom said...

That was SO scary...

Thank goodness you're well...and the kids're fine too...Hope I could say more/ help...Do take care...

Sue said...

You have no idea how much this post scared me, even though you said you were unhurt.

Take care. I'm glad you got lucky.

ChoxBox said...

Wow. Glad you are fine. Phew.

Mallika said...

Glad to hear you are ok..an accident does really shake one up..

-Mallika

Sujatha said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

Frankie, so glad to see you back in circulation.

Chitra said...

Oh my God! It's indeed scary! And you are one lucky lady :-)!

DotThoughts said...

so glad you are ok.. what a heart stopping incident.. about the children who lost their parents.

shoba said...

Oh,dear!! Hopefully, the new year will make it better for all the families.

We always take life for granted unless and until faced with a calamity. Alas! The most volatile thing in life is life itself.

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