the things that matter

Finding the perfect song on the radio doesn’t matter.

Feeling cool while you fly down your hometown back roads, seat belt optional, doesn’t matter.

Looking the part, the vintage truck, the belt buckle…none of that matters, either.

What matters are the neighbors who come racing out of their homes when they hear the screech of the brakes.

What matters are the strangers who rush to your aid.

What matters is the fact that you survived, that home was right down the road, that your mother made it before the ambulance did, that your family was able to know you were okay.

What matters are the lessons you learn, and the second chances you get.

Today, Webb and I witnessed a horrendous crash in live action. The old RAM truck was headed towards us in our lane, and we watched as it lost control, swerved off the road, flew through the air, hit a telephone pole and destroyed nearly 30 feet of fencing before it halted in a ditch across from our stopped car.

We’d halted just in time. The telephone pole and wires blocked our path just 10 feet in front of us.

Webb rushed out to check on the driver while I called 911 as another truck stopped to face us and the driver got out, also making calls. Neighbors came rushing out of their homes. They knew this boy. He lived two houses down.

He was out of the car now, his whole face bloody. His windshield was smashed. It wasn’t until later that we saw one of the back panes had come out as well; his head had been thrown backwards before he even left the road. He claimed he’d been messing with the radio and lost control. He’d obviously been speeding, as well. Just like any of us would on a quiet sunny Sunday afternoon.

He was cognizant enough to have us call his parents, who were there in less than two minutes. We saw, too, that his arm had been gashed down to the muscle. He’d lost several teeth. A young boy who I assume was his brother was in tears. His parents had gauze and wrapped his arm. The neighbors had towels and bottles of water while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.

It’s not every day that you witness something like this. I think we’re still in shock hours later. Of course, I’m grateful that the boy is going to be okay. (His truck is another story.) I’m grateful that we weren’t hit. I’m grateful that our brakes worked as fast as they did. I’m grateful that the pole didn’t fall on us.

I’m grateful that Webb seemed to know what to do, and even though he claimed he didn’t, that he had enough wherewithal to jump in and pretend like he did. I’m grateful for the goodness I saw in people. I’m grateful for this terrible reminder that forced us to drive a little more slowly home and think twice about messing with a phone or the radio dial ever again.

But of course, I’m still a little scared, too. I’m scared of witnessing first-hand how quickly a carefree moment can change into horror. I’m scared of how easily life can be taken from us. I’m scared of seeing a car come my way, swerving into the wrong lane for any given reason. And I’m scared of how often this happens in our world.

But this doesn’t mean we live in fear. This means we live in the moment. This means that we need to be mindful, safe, and aware of our surroundings and our distractions at all times. We can’t control it all, but we can play our small part.