Sunday, September 15, 2013

Coincidence, Serendipity, or Meant to Be?

We were driving to Marietta one day last week, talking about our plans for the week and listening to the radio, when I suddenly realized that Larry was heading towards Ravenswood and had forgotten where we were going. We were about three miles out of our way, no big deal. We just turned around and backtracked to the interstate. But was there another reason, one we weren't aware of, that caused us to miss the turn-off? I have often wondered about the impact of sudden decisions or accidental changes in plans, about what we might have missed or unexpectedly experienced.

In 2001 I made a last-minute decision take a longer route home because I wanted to look at a ball field my son had asked about, one that he thought had a place where he could practice pitching. I found the place and had pulled into the turn lane when a truck that had been a good ways behind me suddenly accelerated and tried to pass, hitting my car and spinning it around; he slammed it again and sent it careening off the road and into a driveway, after breaking off a gas line. His truck slammed into a tree; he was going so fast his truck was crushed and he died instantly. I was lucky; I slammed my head into the door post and came very close to passing out, but managed to remain conscious. I was seeing double when I jumped out of my battered car and ran to the other driver, but one look told me there was nothing I could do. I will not ever forget that moment.

I still wonder, what if I had left five seconds earlier? What if I had not tried to pull off the road to have a better look? What if the man who hit me had stayed at the convenience store a few seconds longer? What if he started to pass and then realized that it was a no passing zone, and pulled back in? What if, what if, what if. All the what ifs in the world cannot change something that has already happened. It took years for me to get past the flashing memories of that evening, and years for the sore place on my head to go away. Even now I dread driving on that road and fortunately I no longer have to go anywhere near it.

But to return to our mistake last week, when we forgot where we were going and had to turn around: those few minutes made us a little later on our journey, no big deal. But we were passing a truck loaded with concrete block when we noticed that one block had come loose and was fractions of an inch away from flying off the truck. Had that one block come loose, many others would surely have followed as the tight stacking would have been compromised. And a loose concrete block bouncing down the interstate could easily have bounced right through a windshield and killed or seriously injured someone.

We were able to signal to the truck driver that there was a problem with his load. He nodded and, praises be, pulled off the road. Potential tragedy averted. So again I wonder, if we had not made that wrong turn, would we have seen the truck and the loose block? Or would it have come loose and hurtled into an oncoming car? Was that truck the reason for our wrong turn? Or was it, like my accident all those years ago, just a coincidence of timing?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Adele Browne said...

Coincidence? I don't think so. Wonderful story, Susanna--stories, really. It does make you wonder, and count your blessings, doesn't it? I believe we meet the people God wants us to meet, and that He leads us where we can do some good. And maybe a close call every once in a while keeps us on our toes...

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Goose bumps. This will stay in your memory bank.

Anonymous said...

That is amazing - and while I DO NOT believe the everything happens for a reason (think about that a minute - the hurt, the pain, the horribleness that comes to people, and don't tell me it is to strengthen people) but I do believe that if we have our eyes open to opportunities to help or to change something (notify the driver the brick was loose) then it is our duty to fix what we can and help when we can.

I'll NEVER believe that every bad things happen for a "reason" - that is just religious slop that allows people to not take responsibility for what they do.

Sue said...

I wonder about these things, too. And when in doubt, I decide that anything positive that comes from "mistakes" wasn't merely a coincidence but a tender mercy.


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