Perhaps I’m not the most realistic person in the world, but I tend to try and think of all the bad scenarios that could ever happen in my life (and most especially the lives of my children) and how I would keep us safe. Perhaps it’s a throw back from my days as a ski racer but in order to keep the anxiety at bay, I need to visualize solutions and happy endings.
Many times, these visualizations include cars – parking lots and cars, crosswalks and cars, car accidents, car malfunctions, car jacking and even once a car explosion. I’m wary of cars.
So when Franklin, Eliza and I were walking home from Aikido last Friday, imagine my horror when the unthinkable started to happen and it was nothing like my carefully scripted scenario.
It was about 4:30pm and because we live in good ol’ Canada, it was night. We have only one street to cross and it’s quite well lit, has a crossing light and is not really that busy. Should be perfectly safe, right? Even if it was dark and wet.
We got to the intersection and I pressed the button. We waited for the crossing light to come on and then we crossed, like so many times coming home from school, play-dates, Japanese lessons and Aikido. Except this time, this time, a woman turning doesn’t see us. She came barreling through the intersection, turning left and headed right toward us.
Us. Franklin holding my hand. Eliza in the wrap.
We should have been mobile. We should have been able to escape. I can escape these circumstances in my head so it would be no problem to act it out now. She’s coming toward us and the first thing I think of is “RUN!”
Except my hand tightens around Franklin’s and my other arm circles around Eliza and all I do is drag them back a few startled steps. We can’t get out of the way. There are cars around us and I can’t see fast enough to know where to go. Everything is happening too fast. Where is my escape? Where do I go? I scream “STOP!!!” inside my head.
This all happens in a split second. All my thoughts. My feelings of failure and panic. My anger.
The woman screeches to a stop once she finally focuses on what she is aiming her car at. My family. She rolls down her window and shakingly says,
“I didn’t see you. I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”
I can’t find my voice. She’s in her late 60′s or early 70′s. I want to say so many things to her but they are things I don’t want my son to hear. I don’t want him to know how angry I am at her. I want to ask her if she saw the walking sign. I want to ask her if she should be driving at night. I want to shake her until she can’t feel her legs because that’s how I’m feeling as I stare at her and walk ourselves to the other side of the street.
Franklin was extremely scared after that so we stopped on the sidewalk and I told him how scary I thought it was too. We hugged for a good minute and once he felt okay (and Eliza started to squirm), we started home again – and talked about where we can get a hold of reflective vests this weekend.