Everything Can Change In An Instant

We were four women laughing and talking together; having a great time in each others company.  We were driving back from an adventure we’d just shared and everyone was in a great mood.  Tracy was driving. Cathy sat beside her up front, Jacquie sat behind Tracy and I was behind Cathy.  I had a perfect view of Tracy and the road beside and ahead of her.  It was around 8:30 at night and the summer sky was still bright.  We were doing about 80km along a straight country highway.  There were cars ahead of us and behind us and quite a few going the opposite direction.  A pretty typical summer Sunday evening drive.    

Cathy was saying something and Tracy turned her head to look at her for an instant.  She took her eyes off the road for an instant.  It was only an instant. 

Meanwhile the drunken driver of a black Pontiac Sunfire was having a hard time keeping his car on his own side of the road.  I’ve imagined he may have been trying to focus by closing one eye.  He probably thought he was doing pretty well considering how much he’d had to drink. Or maybe he thought everyone else kept driving into his lane instead of the other way around.  Who knows what was going on in his mind?  We will never know for sure.

I gasped as I saw the black Sunfire coming straight at Tracy. Time seemed to slow down and move in chunks.  Tracy. Black car. Tracy. Black cars headlight. Tracy.

I knew that the impact would be hard.  I knew that Tracy’s legs would be crushed and that the metal would crumple in on top of her.  I knew that the jeep we were in would spin from the impact and consequently roll along the highway.  There was a very good chance our vehicle would careen itself into a few more cars before coming to a stop.   

The jeep held four mothers of twelve children all together.  They ranged in ages from infant in diapers to adult children.  All would be devastated; all would be changed forever in an instant. 

Tracy turned her attention back to the road and an instant later she saw the black car coming straight for her.  She had no time to think.  Her instincts took over and she yanked the wheel of her jeep hard to the right and then hard back to the left.  We missed impacting with the black Sunfire by mere centimetres.  In that one instant all our lives could have been changed forever.  Instead, thanks to Tracy’s quick reaction, we were all safe.  Shaken up for sure, but unscathed. 

I’m so grateful that nothing happened that night.  I’m writing this now as a sort of therapy.  The instant that could have changed everything for the four of us has been haunting me all week.  I needed to get it written down so that I can let it go.  I think what has been haunting me the most about that night was just how quickly everything can change.  One minute you’re laughing and the next…

I guess it is another reminder to enjoy each and every moment.  Life is so precious.  Remember one of the six word memoirs ~ “It all changed in an instant.”  Thank you guardian angels or powers that be from saving us from that particular six word memoir.

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12 thoughts on “Everything Can Change In An Instant

  1. Amazing Bonnie, you had me literally sweating as I read this. Your words describing perfectly the feelings that go through ones mind as their life indeed is chanced forever.
    For me … It’s the phone. Í have been short two members of a four member family for 16 years, both times receiving a phone call that my sister first was gone, and within six months another call that my mom was gone. Indeed it is within a slit second that your life is very different.
    I tell my children to say I Love You each time they part, as it can possibly be the last time you see that person.
    We must practise showing each and every moment how much we care and love our family and friends. As you said the moments are precious. But by the grace of God we all go, a moment at a time with each and every breath being a gift.
    Well written, well said, thank – you and I hope there are more readers than ever before paying attention to wonderful people like you out here making a difference.

    Awesome Work Bonnie ! And A Great Writer Too !

  2. I grabbed a book called The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion from my little library last night. I think it was one my sister once recommended. Anyway, it’s a true account of the year immediately after the author loses her husband to a massive coronary (died instantly) and her daughter almost dies from the flu. It’s about exactly what you’ve just written here, Bonnie. How life can change in an instant. You’re traveling along one path and a moment later you’re thrust onto another, often through no fault of your own.

    That was a scary event, no doubt. You saw the car coming a few seconds longer than I did so I’m not surprised it has affected you so much. If Tracy had taken a quick look at her cell phone, or stayed a moment longer on Cathy or looked down to change the radio station, it would have been game over.

    Reminds me of that sad commercial I posted a few days ago!

  3. Bon,
    Wow this was intense to relive through your words, it brought tears to my eyes. At the time it just happened really with no thought process AT ALL in my mind, it just was and I just did. Afterwards I just seemed to feel as though I was just carrying on until I looked back at you and Jake and saw the look on Cathy’s face next to me. You were all physically affected very strongly by what had just occurred! As crazy as anyone may think I am I think my little guide ‘Elizabeth’ who sits on my right shoulder just reacted for me. It felt as though I didn’t have time to think and someone else was prepared where I may have not been. I was told that she was going to stop something from happening in my car, by putting on brakes or making me feel like I missed a potential accident, I am certain this was it! It would have been a very tragic and fatal accident and we need to remember IT WASN’T! We were not meant to crash and we were reminded how precious our lives are.
    We were driving to Lacrosse yesterday, Scott was driving my Jeep and he kept joking about swerving into the other lane, he was trying to be funny, but it made me feel very unsettled reminding me of that crazy night!
    Drive safe everyone, don’t even joke about swerving into the lanes of others, they are not aware you are joking and it can sometimes cause a chain reaction.
    Love you all!! xoxo

  4. So glad you are all safe………….

    I call these events…..In a blink of an eye……..
    That things can change…..
    My girlfriend was not as lucky and went off the Coquihala Hwy, last May, and was not found until 8 hours later, unconsious.. She is doing way better now, thank god.. But she also, must of had a guardian angel, for someone noticed her clothes up in the trees……and decided to go look….

  5. Thanks for all the great comments and well wishes everyone!

    Jacquie: Joan Didion is a fantastic writer. Heartbreaking story but worth the read.

    Rick: You’ve taught your children a valuable lesson. Way to go!

    Tracy: I love your “Elizabeth”!

    Jeannie: Yikes. How terrifying that must have been for your friend. So glad it had a happy ending!
    🙂

  6. 🙁 So glad nothing happend to you three (and the fourth person), beautiful ladies. When you talk about having 12 children between you, this story really hits home.

    Scary. I was just at a funeral for a young man (30) who died in a motorcycle accident the other day. As you started this I was thinking Tracy was riding her bike and something happened.

    I hope you ladies don’t mind my shameless plugs on here because my intent is not to spam Tara, but I think this is very relevant to this story.

    Tracy has already talked about filmaker Billie Mintz, and this is just another project by him inspired by the death of his own cousin/brother at the hands of a drunk driver. It’s a touching, inspiring project and it’s message is so vitally important as now the three of you know even more so after this terrible ordeal.

    http://www.themessageinthebottle.com

    Glad you are all okay. I don’t think the three of you should ever drive in the same vehicle and risk the demise of this wonderful place in space.

    Love and hugs from Ontario.

    Lawrence

    • 🙂 Thank you handsome! You can leave a link to anything Billie Mintz creates, he is a very inspiring human being! I have seen all of the shorts he has been a part of and this one definitely has impact like all the others! Thanks for sharing!

      Motorcycles are such fun to ride and when you do you just can’t think of the negative that sometimes comes along with being a rider. I am Captain Careful and only ride when I am really into it! I know it’s not always the rider but I do everything I can to prevent something from going wrong. Again a reason to live while your alive! xoxo

  7. I am still so thankful the the quick reflexes of Tracy, and the calming effect of all of you around me.

    Whoa, it was so freaky, and yes life could have changed in that moment. I am thankful all is well. xo

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