The Two Minute Difference

Tuesday I left the house two minutes early- when you are not a morning person like me, you know EXACTLY how many minutes you have to get to work – for once, I was early. “Hallelujah!” I thought, “I’m getting off to a good start.” But as I merged onto the beltline everyone slowed to a complete stop. All three lanes. This had never happened to me before in Wi. On the eastcoast where driving is more like mario-cart, yes. But here- something was wrong. my sister called me a few minutes later,

“where are you? I just got off after i heard on the radio. i guess there were two separate crashes at the same time. westbound is down to one lane too. everything is packed, should i take broadway? oh, i missed it.. never mind this traffic is so bad, by the time i get to work and back home i will have spent two hours in the car. it’s not worth it. i’m going home.”

she was two minutes behind me two firetrucks, squad cars, one ambulance, and 40 min later  all passenger cars were directed into the left lane, and back the way we came- byway of the police u-turn roadbreak. It took me an hour and a half to make my 30 min commute. -I mention this not to complain or gain sympathy, but to illustrate the severity of the deadlocked traffic and the crash that caused all this mess.

my boss told me when i got to work that someone had been medflighted off the scene.

i went on with my day normally until my husband called me and said, ” you know that you were only two minutes behind that crash this morning, if that. they say it happened at 7:30. and someone died at the scene.”

(the full news article is here: http://www.nbc15.com/home/headlines/127299948.html)

my cousin was in a similar crash that took his life, and i started to feel the reality of how close i had been to something similar reverberate through me until i was calling my mom just to tell someone. she didn’t answer, so i called my dad. (that’s probably the worst thing to do to a parent- call them and say, “I almost died!”   not even joking.   sorry dad-)

i realize now that having my parents live 8 hours away makes me feel less grounded. tom says it’s weird that we can’t just go there anytime we want, and my sister says there isnt that home base anymore..   and she’s right. i have avoided driving by their house for fear that it would all sink in.. it took this crash to totally re-route me to do so. yes, they have moved. there are strange cars in the driveway. there is nothing on the porch.. my parents always had some seating and plants saying, come on in, their absence makes the house look hollow. maybe it’s just a projection of how i feel- hollow without them near to save me if my car runs out of gas or i have a bad dream… so many memories in that silly structure. it represented so much and now without my family in it- it will always look empty to me. (gosh i’m so melodramatic!)  day by day i face the change.  this is teaching me that home is where my loved ones are. family does equal home. i’m grateful we spent some time living there last year. people say that it is always harder to be the one to stay. i think it’s true.. when we moved to Connecticut, there were so many things to learn, everything was new and sometimes overwhelming. new city, new people, new culture, new climate.. new stresses, new discoveries. i was new. i had time and space to think and be in a new space. and i know that is what my parents are doing in Missouri, and it’s going to be so great for them. but adjusting to THIS new normal without them here is weird. and probably will be until i can see them in their new house and city. i heard an NPR interview once with the worlds oldest man and they asked him his secret.. 114 years old and he said that change is going to come and if you handle it well you will have a better life-

here he is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpOf6iqdPng

and a remembrance, he passed away in april-

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/04/oldest-american-dies-at-the-age-of-114.html

change. it really does take time.

Meeting Ralph

I just spent the last hour at the DMV and to prevent my lower half from falling further asleep, i got up and decided to wait in the back of the room.  after a few minutes an elderly man stood next to me papers in hand. he wore a nice ironed shirt, but it seemed strange next to his unkempt white hair, wrinkled face and missing tooth.

i asked him how long he’d been waiting and he said, only 15 min. i told him I’d been there a little over an hour and mentioned something about the system, the bureaucracy of it all..i found out his name was Ralph. Ralph seemed sad. he said “this whole country is going to crap.” he seemed defeated. and just shook his head a lot when i asked him what he thought about all the stuff that is going on in WI –

Ralph told me he has a great granddaughter who will be 10 months old this month and he wonders what kind of a world she will grow up in. what kind of America she will know. i asked him if he is a veteran and he said that he was 74 and in both Vietnam and Korea. He disproved of the cuts to veteran’s benefits . he also said that his niece’s boyfriend has been on so many tours she cant be around him because he has lost it. too much war- PTSD.  It seemed like he was worried for both her and his great granddaughter. i told him I’m an optimist and i have been having trouble seeing the glass half full lately too.

it seems so apparent in the dmv that we live in the confines of a government. with social security numbers and the lady who my dad says sounds like Logan’s run saying, “ now serving D 3 6 7 at window number 5.” so it was strange to, well not so strange for me i guess, but the juxtaposition of such a great human interaction amidst this robotic, legal, systematic transaction that IS the DMV was beautiful. like a flower budding between concrete.

now that i am writing this i wish i had asked him what he thought should be different, better. how to get out of this mess? Ralph thank you for your insight and your stories. they need to be heard.

as i was leaving he smiled and waved and nodded his head as if to say thank you for listening, i enjoyed our talk. i hope i get to re-watch that conversation when i get to heaven save it for me ok God?