I had just turned on my windshield wipers as the gentle pitter-patter of rain began to transform into a deluge last Wednesday evening on my way back from a Chisago County Board of Commissioners meeting in Center City.
After performing that routine task, my brain had a split second to notice something was amiss, but my reflexes were nowhere near quick enough to do anything about the impending danger.
In front of me on Highway 95, just outside of North Branch, a vehicle from the eastbound lane had completely crossed the centerline and was barreling toward me.
The driver of that car peeled off at the last second and was able to stop the car on the shoulder of my lane, avoiding going into the ditch.
I’d imagine the vehicle was traveling somewhere around the speed of my car — approximately 55 mph.
I didn’t even have time to put my foot on the brake or jerk the steering wheel.
If I had to guess, I’d say the vehicle missed hitting my car by about 10 feet.
Once I had a little time to process what had nearly occurred, I inhaled and let out a deep, ragged breath and shuddered. Thinking about what could have transpired if that car had hit mine head-on going that fast made my pulse quicken.
When I got home, I stopped by the mailbox and got out of my car — it was pouring. I gathered the mail and felt the cool rain hit my face and back; it was almost shockingly cold, but it was a welcome distraction from thinking about what could have been a brutal, perhaps life-ending accident.
When I got inside, I gave my wife a kiss and told her I loved her. Right away, she could tell something wasn’t quite right with me and asked what was going on. I told her about the near miss and saw the concern rise in her eyes.
She said she was glad nothing happened. I was glad, too.
For the rest of the night, I thought about how the “near misses” in life really tend to put things into perspective. For a moment, anyway, they wash away the thoughts of work, bills and day-to-day irritants that often fill our minds.
Lying in bed, I thought about how lucky I am to have good family and friends who truly care about and love me. I do not take those people for granted, and I want them all to know that.
Life can be a funny thing; sometimes you feel you have a near infinite amount of time to accomplish all of your goals, but one close call can show you just how easily everything can end.
I’m thankful my life didn’t end last Wednesday — there are so many things I still want to do, and I’ll try and remember that close call as I do them because I think it will add clarity and perspective to my thoughts and actions.