Not even noon and I had a long list already of things I’m grateful for today: Waking up alive and spooning a purring kitty, swimming bare legs in cool sheets, not having to jump out of bed right away to take any dog out for a walk; stepping outside into a brisk sun morning, flowers on Stellar’s grave, saying a prayer for him that makes me feel a tiny bit better, sun for the solar panels, hot coffee, Telesangha, a new puzzle. Then I drove twenty minutes to a fairly well-stocked grocery store where I could also get a Covid booster. I’m posting early today, anticipating that by evening I’ll be very, very sleepy…
Driving home from shopping, I was pondering my gratitude for a seamless errand run: in and out of Farm Runners where they had everything I wanted, close parking at City Market, an uneventful booster shot from friendly pharmacy staff, and a trunk full of groceries. I was grateful to see many more people wearing masks in the store, grateful I can afford to feed myself, grateful for all the hands, hearts, and minds that went into supplying the grocery store from the growers and makers of the foods I purchased, to the drivers and lifters and the infrastructure that made it all get to this little out of the way store, to the roads and those who built and maintain the roads… I was happily contemplating all these things, when, just around the curve by the big red barn, I witnessed a horrific accident unfold.
Fifty yards ahead, an SUV was apparently turning around, pulling from the shoulder onto the highway right in front of the southbound pickup truck in front of me. The truck braked and swerved as the SUV continued to turn across into the northbound lane. I pulled over and pulled out my phone as soon as I saw the truck clip the front of the SUV, which got pushed aside. It didn’t look too bad at that point. But the truck continued off the road down a shallow bank, and then it got really ugly as the truck seemed to roll over several directions all at once, parts of it flying off into the highway with fresh each impact. The truck came to rest. It was smashed to bits. By that time I had 911 on the phone. “Is the truck on its wheels?” the dispatcher asked. I wondered why she asked that, but was happy to say that it was.
The SUV pulled over on the intersecting road. A middle-aged woman got out. By the time I had finished describing what where when, the young man driving the pickup had also gotten out. I was immensely grateful to see him on his feet and inspecting the damage, so grateful that everyone survived. They both began to remove debris from the road. I was grateful for a cell phone and service, grateful there was no blood, no need to administer first aid. There was a lot of oncoming traffic, which slowed and passed around. Another guy pulled over and got out. I waited awhile to make sure there was nothing more I could do, then drove on home, experiencing the very human reaction of feeling grateful that, this time, it wasn’t me.
I drove very carefully. I thought about how radically different today turned out for both of those people than either of them expected, how each of them suffered trauma in their different ways, and I felt deep empathy for both of them. I was very grateful to get home to my quiet little life in my quiet little house in my quiet little yard.