I am not a fearful person. But I have a really, really vivid imagination.
Sunday, on our 4th day of driving (Illinois to Virginia to Ohio to Illinois), Rod finally let me take the wheel for awhile (Note: of the Suburban, not the bus). One of the first things I saw on the left side of 65N in Indiana was a decapitated deer.
Ew. And ugh…
I am not a fearful driver, but back when I was commuting 100 miles a day, I became a jaded one. People are CRAZY. (Billy Currington might sing the song, but I’ve known this for awhile). I was in four car accidents during those 4 years, and once I was nearly run off the Hillside Strangler (the on ramp from 294N to 290W by a semi-driver). I am not exaggerating here. He was angry because I let a few cars get ahead of me (it’s a horribly designed ramp that goes to one lane with virtually no warning), and he was trying to get around me on the curve while visibly yelling at me. I called his toll-free number, and I am still bitter.
Anyway, those experiences as well as just living in the Chicagoland area (where many of the crazy people are mean, too) have made me cautious about traffic. There have also been horrible accidents in the years since I’ve been paying attention that have occurred while people were pulled over on the side of the highway.
(I’m sure that deer’s accident occurred much that way…)
I hadn’t been behind the wheel for very long when the car started veering side to side. Because I was in the tire business for three years at the beginning of my illustrious and ever changing career, I thought at first we’d busted a tie-rod or something and thrown it out of alignment. (Impressive sounding, yes? I should note here that I have never in my life actually changed a tire or done more than jump a battery or add oil to the engine.)
Rod diagnosed a flat tire, and I navigated us safely to…the right shoulder…the side of the road. Once he confirmed the problem, I wanted to try to make it to the next exit. He didn’t think we could make it.
Naturally, the one time we took a ‘regular car’ on a concert weekend instead of the bus meant that the back was filled with sound equipment, so we (well, Rod) had to take about half of it out to even get to the spare. And then, we needed to consult the owner’ manual for a few details, because these new-fangled vehicles are a little more complicated than those in the days of yore :)
I got the manual from the glove box, gave it to Rod, and then persisted in the only 3 things I could do to help in this situation:
1) Prayed, pretty much in whatever old hymn popped into my head (“Standing on the Promises” was an important one).
2) Tweeted. My goal was entertain in my moment of distress. (Did I mention I had about 4 sweet teas with lunch? There was distress).
3) Watched for semis. I mean, seriously. It’s a law now in Indiana (and other states, I assume). that when you can, you get over to the left when people are pulled over on the right. I’m not sure what good I thought I would do by starting down every signle vehicle that passed us, but those who could have moved over and didn’t got a serious hairy eyeball from me. That’ll show ’em.
Rod was able to change the tire with very little drama. I nearly peed myself every time a semi did go by us in the right lane. Man, do those things cause a mighty wind! Unfortunately, seeing them pass by my husband’s head from about 10 feet away did a number on my writer’s imagination. Basically, I could picture him getting run over, me surviving but without any legs, and being left to raise all these kids alone.
Ugh. I can still picture it.
Meanwhile, I stared so hard at the oncoming traffic that I gave myself a headache. I was convinced that if I did see anyone Driving Wonky, I could warn Rod in time so that we could both dive and roll away, likely in slow motion, like an episode of MacGyver or The Fall Guy.
Fortunately, obviously, nothing like that happened.
Rod got the spare on the car (where it still sits. We really need to take care of that, Honey). Then he proceeded to put the jack and everything else together with great care and precision…never mind that we were still on the side of the blessed road or that I Had To Pee. Never mind that at home, my sweet husband rarely closes a drawer all the way or throws away junk mail after he looks at it. The tire jack, though, had to be replaced perfectly at that moment….a true Mars vs. Venus moment if there ever was one.
I tell the story jokingly, but the truth is, I was scared. And the truth also is, just the night before in the concert and church service we were in, God confronted me in one of my fears and sorrows, which is the loss of children. And the confrontation left me testifying that our lives here are a small blip, a blink of time’s eye, and though our sorrow might be deep and great, it should not consume us, because there is LIFE waiting in eternity that is far beyond what we have here.
It’s a comforting thought and a hopeful one, but would I be able to hold to it if I lost my husband or child? I never want to know. But in a few moments on the side of the road, imagining the worst, I was expecting something better. And that means I’ve grown in my faith, and for that, I am glad.