After breakfast this morning, M and I went for a last walk on the sand, before coming back home. As we were walking, it began to softly rain and the conversation turned to serious things. After 5 years of marriage, we sometimes need to talk about serious things. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were soaking wet. We packed our things and left.
We were driving back from the coast, on Highway 20, towards Corvallis. It’s a two lane highway, so not very wide and the ground was still wet from the rain. We were listening to U2 sing “If God will send his Angels” as we approached a sharp turn going 50mph. The traffic sign said to reduce speed to 15mph. We slowed down, but as we got closer, a red station wagon came at us from around the turn and fishtailed right as we passed it. “Crap”, I thought, “thank god they’re all right”. I could see a middle-aged mom driving.
The station wagon tried to steer the opposite way to compensate for the fish-tailing, but instead veered into to the wrong lane. It spun about 360 degrees before slamming on its brakes. Then it flipped completely over and off the road, down the cliff on our right. I looked in the mirror and saw the underbelly of the car facing me as it flipped and rolled down the cliff into a blackberry patch.
I was sure I had just watched someone die. The car in front of us, full of OSU students, pulled to the side and everyone got out and started running toward the wreck, cell phones dialing 911. M pulled over and we started running back to the wreck. I nearly burst into tears as I ran; I could feel them welling up in me. And I could feel that lump in my throat. All I could think was: God, why is life so fragile? One minute this family is driving on the road, wondering what they’re going to eat for lunch, and the next minute, they’re at death’s door.
I got to the car and found an OSU student with his arm in a cast helping the driver of the wrecked car walk up to the road. The red station wagon was in one piece, and not on fire. Two little girls from the car were bruised but walking, no broken bones, away from the wreck. Pretty soon, there was about 5 or 6 cars pulled over to the side of the road, everyone trying to help. Someone said, “We’re medical people, is there anything we can do?”. But the answer was, “No, we’re ok, we just need a tow truck to pull the car up.”
So that was it. M and I got back in our car, totally shaky and full of adrenaline; still in shock from thinking we witnessed a tragedy. We started driving again and Bono started singing about God sending his angels, and I wondered if we had just witnessed some angels interfering with earthly business.
I spent the weekend looking at animals and nature and reading about interior design and existentialism and thinking I was pretty content with my current life and then today came along and I’m not so comfortable. Now I have a headache and I’m still thinking about serious things and I wonder why we’re in this mess here anyway.