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A Car Accident

This week, Luna experienced her first car accident.

Kristine, Luna, and I were just trying to grab a quick lunch together, a brief respite in the middle of the day to be together as a family. We made it a whole six minutes away from home before the journey ended.

As we sat waiting at a red light, a red sedan came barreling towards us from behind, the driver oblivious to the fact that we were stopped right in front of them. Time seemed to slow down as I glanced up and saw the car filling the rearview mirror, the realization of what was about to happen washing over me like a cold wave. Impact was inevitable.

The collision was jarring, metal crunching and glass shattering, the violent sounds of our cars colliding. Luna immediately started wailing in the backseat, and both Kristine and I had only one thought: get to Luna, hold her, make sure she was alright. Nothing else mattered.

As we stumbled out of the car, people came streaming towards us from all directions, pouring out from the shops and restaurants lining the street. "Is the baby okay?" they asked, their voices laced with concern. "Check on that poor baby! Let me know if you need any help with her." Their kindness was touching, Luna was shaken up but blessedly unharmed. She clung to Kristine as the police arrived and took statements, as a fireman put a little pulse oximeter on her foot to check her vitals. And the whole time, I couldn't stop marveling at how in a split second, everything had changed.

How fragile this life is that we build for ourselves. One moment you're lost in the mundane concerns of the day, and the next you're standing on the side of the road in a sea of shattered glass. I was simply grateful that everyone was still whole.

It's fascinating how quickly you can slip in and out of different lives. I'm writing this from my couch where I'm being stared at by a plastic yellow giraffe sitting amongst half a dozen toys scattered across the ground where Luna left them. In a previous life, having such an assortment of brightly colored playthings underfoot would have been unthinkable, my house clean and spotless every night. But now, it's just part of the landscape of this particular existence I find myself in: The life of a parent.

Life is a series of transitions. We blink and we find ourselves inhabiting a completely different role, a different set of priorities and daily rituals. And then, in a split second, everything can change again.

When that car came barreling towards us, when the sickening crunch of metal meeting metal filled the air, I caught a glimpse of how quickly I could be thrown into yet another life. We're all just one wrong turn, one glance away from the phone, one unexpected diagnosis away from everything changing in an instant. From slipping into a life we never saw coming.

The thing about brushes with disaster is that they remind you of what's real, what endures after you strip everything else away. In those moments after the crash, all the petty worries and manufactured stresses fell away. All that mattered was that we were still breathing, still intact. Everything else was just noise.

But the noise has a way of creeping back in, doesn't it? The further you get from that moment of impact, the more the mundane concerns start to reassert themselves. The plastic toys scattered across the floor become an annoyance again rather than something you’re grateful for.

The truth is, there's no guarantee of tomorrow. No promise that the next time fate comes barreling towards you, you'll be lucky enough to walk away with nothing worse than a renewed sense of perspective. What do you do with that knowledge, that bone-deep understanding of your own fragility? You could drive yourself crazy trying to prepare for every possible contingency, every potential disaster lurking around the corner.

But that's no way to live.

Instead, you take the hit and you keep moving. You hold your loved ones a little tighter and you don't sweat the small stuff quite so much. I'll take my dented car and my daughter's tear-stained face and I'll be grateful that I get to slip back into this beautiful life. I spent my Saturday almost entirely with Luna.

That's all for now.

From the present moment.

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