It was about a month ago. I didn’t see the actual collision.
The four-door sedan, driver’s side crumpled, in a slow spin.
The 4X4 truck, front end smashed, bleeding oil from the grill.
The truck seemed to have spun in the same direction as the car.
I saw an airbag deploy in the face of the truck driver. His head whipped back and then his whole body slumped down.
The car rolled past where I could see.
It must have all happened in two seconds. As the scene replays in my mind, there is no sound. I want to insert sound from accidents I’ve seen in movies or television shows. Was the radio too loud? Were my windows rolled up? The lack of sound somehow makes the whole thing worse.
The light turned green, but no one wanted to go. No one could, because time had frozen.
People were running toward the scene. I was too far back in the turn lane to have helped. I wanted to help. I can’t help feeling I should have helped.
On the TRAX blue line, at the Courthouse Station. A couple board and then sit across from me. The woman has straight hair and a small messenger bag. The man has gritty hair and hands with dirty nails and freckles. The couple might have been in their 20s.
The woman hands the man a $20 bill. I watch without watching.
They watch who boards at the Temple Square Station. The man stands and pretends to stretch. The woman smiles.
Two men sit on the other side of the train from where we sit. One of those two men walks to sit in the seats behind the man and woman. This man has bloodshot, shifty eyes.
The man with dirty nails walks to sit across from the man with the shifty eyes.
The man with the dirty nails comes back to sit by the woman with straight hair. The man hands her something small. It’s wrapped in paper or cloth and the ends are twisted so that the package looks like a teardrop.
The man has one of his own. He puts it in his mouth and worries one end with his teeth while holding the other end between two fingers, like he’s trying to open it.
The couple gets off TRAX at the Planetarium Station, and I can breathe again.
A family gets off the Frontrunner at the same station as I do. One of the parents tells the children to slow down as they run across the tracks, and the image of Dadda and me teaching you safety rules flashes in my mind. I see you holding my hand. You want to run across the street, and I tell you to keep holding on to my hand.
I worry, little girl.
You explore the world. You crawl, you scale the walls, the couches. You get excited about all the new things to touch and see and taste.
There is so much that is beautiful and breathtaking. But there are also darkness and tears to choke on.
Thanksgiving was this past month, and of course I’m thankful for our blessings. Lately, when I reflect on something I’m thankful for, I think about how other people are also grateful. For example, I’m thankful for food. And I imagine families in developing countries who appear to have so little. I imagine these families also being grateful for their food. Shelter. Rain. Being alive. Being around people who love them. Having something to believe in.
I want to teach you to be grateful in this way. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being grateful for what you have. I just hope you don’t give thanks that you have more than anyone else, or that you’re better than other people. That’s not true gratitude.
Am I thankful that I wasn’t hurt in that accident? Definitely. Am I thankful not to have a drug addiction? For sure. But beyond being grateful, I hope that you can reach beyond yourself. Are the families of these people okay? Will your gratitude enable you to help other people and be a good person?
And so Christmas approaches. It will be your first, and your Dadda and I want it to be fun and special for you. But we also want you to feel Jesus’ love. And not be scared of Santa. We hope you like the gifts, but we also pray that you feel the spirit of this season.
Eight months, Zinger. Just today before church Dadda said he saw you try to take some steps on your own. I’ve seen your attempts. You practice so much. You work hard. Baby steps.
We’re all taking baby steps, but you’re much better at it.
We’ll always do our best to catch up to you. Don’t you worry.