The Terrible Thing That Didn't Happen
My daughter and I got in a fight this week. Last night, she went to bed angry at me, and I let her, because I want her to be able to own her feelings as long as she is not acting on them in a way that is disrespectful or harmful to herself or others. I don't like being forced to act not mad when I'm mad, so I try not to do it to her, either. As I drifted off to sleep, though, I thought how horrible it would be if something happened to her while she was still mad. Then, this morning, something almost did.
I didn't see my husband or my daughter this morning, because they got up extra early to go to a school function. While they were looking for parking, they were almost hit by a van in a high-speed police chase. My husband said he'd just pulled forward to see around a line of cars when the van passed behind him so close it made our truck shake. If he hadn't pulled forward, he might have been hit by a van going almost ninety miles an hour.
And if that had happened, my entire family would've been dead before I even brushed my teeth.
As he was describing it to me when he got home, drawing a map on the napkin I used at breakfast, I let myself glimpse at how I might've found out my husband and daughter were dead, how I might've been suddenly all alone, how my entire life would've changed irrevocably in one morning. I looked into the gaping maw of that horror and instinctively diverted my thoughts.
It didn't happen. It almost happened, but it didn't happen.
I used to obsess over things that haven't happened, that might happen, that could happen, all the time. I sometimes still catch myself doing it over parenting issues -- if I do this, will she do that? If I don't do this, will she not learn that? But I really, really try not to do it with the rest of the world. Last night at a book club event, one mom was saying she couldn't turn off her phone, and I told her it's really easy for me to turn off everything when I can because I feel like I spend five days a week with an ear trumpet up to all that is good and bad in the world, and I'm not sure the human psyche was meant to know everything that could happen, that does happen, right and wrong.
I'm very grateful. This can go ahead being an ordinary Friday with work and family and the feeling of letting the work week slide off my shoulders with a good book and a glass of wine tonight. That this day is a normal day is something I am thanking God for this morning as I write this. So today, I'm going to look for the beautiful in the ordinary and make sure my daughter and I have made up when she gets home from school and hug my cat and my husband and not think any more about the thing that didn't happen.