That might give you an idea of how reality shifts, though I'm sure you know that from firsthand experience. Yesterday was one of those sunny blue Spring days. Yeah, the birds were all chirping their love songs, wings all aflutter, a welcome chorus. This was just the right weather for a walk to the market. Shopping list, check, cellphone, check, keys, check and I'm out the door, strolling down Little Neck Parkway. That's when my phone rang the first time. Great, I hit "decline", not "accept". Return call, "leave a message...yadda, yadda", okay, "Sorry, Christine, Couldn't see the screen for the sun-glare, I'll talk to you soon. Love you."
Ever since 9-11 my daughter and I finish every good-bye with i-love-you. Not to trivialize it, but because life is so unpredictable. "What if" is unspoken. There is no need. Even in our most ferocious door-slamming, stomping down the stairs, if looks could kill moments we would scream I LOVE YOU!!! as the walls vibrated from the door's impact. What if...
When I got into the store I checked my phone and found a voice-mail message from Christine. She sounded very small and far away, garbled and the trailed off to static...butt-dialed. Oh well, nothing important.
I was wandering down the aisle trying to choose the lipstick color of the moment when my phone rang.
"Mom, I was in an accident. I think the Jeep is totaled." She sounds breathless, panicky and I am standing here, Cool Coral gripped in my left hand. "Are you all right? Is anyone with you? Are you all right?"
"I'm okay. The girls weren't with me. Pete's here now. Someone cut me off. I hit the guardrail and spun out. I think both axles are broken. The front end..."
"Never mind about the car. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm okay, Mom. I have to go."
"Call me as soon as you can. I love you."
"I love you, too, Mom."
The screen on my phone flashes "call ended", but I still stare at it for a few seconds. Let this sink in from brain to heart. Now there are tear drops on the Cool Coral lipstick. Oh, for Pete's sake, don't start crying now. A few deep breaths, sunglasses in place, I grab a crumb cake and head for the cashier to pay for my purchases. Everything seems normal. Mundane is my word for the day. The automatic door swings open and I step back into the blue sunny day. My mind finally articulates the thought that is diving through it like a kamikaze, "she's alive!" One twist of fate and the unthinkable would be the new reality. My choice is to leave that thought in the unthinkable room of my heart. The one we all have for scenarios that wake us up from a nightmare in a cold sweat or that keep us on the insomnia express for nights on endless night. That room has no lock on the heavy door so it swings open a crack and you get a glimpse of the "what ifs" that reside therein.
Today the door is shut tight. Good. A dear friend of mine would always remind me we live in the ongoing moment. Treasure each and every one. Oh yes, I love you.