Friday, September 17, 2010

Just a few seconds

Every night I call my mom in Memphis and have a little chat. Our talk always includes a short summary of our police report. She enjoys this because usually, with our lower crime rate, our police reports are filled with various and sundry items of curiosities instead of murders. People in Maine will call the police for the most unusual reasons. For instance, there was a man a few years ago who called the police to report he was seeing holographic pictures of his nude wife on the side of his garage. (You have to wonder what he was smoking.) Recently there was a couple having sex on the dock, and in the same report, some condoms had been shoplifted. Wonder if there was a connection there. There are also reports of cows, chickens, pigs loose, and the town of Bucksport always has a "suspicious" person or two every week.

Today, however, the newspaper was full of depressing, not funny, news. There were 3 car accidents involving fatalities, one even wiping out a family (dad, mother, 4-year-old daughter). Sometimes the results of excessive speed, sometimes with DUI, but ultimately most of the accidents we read about (including the tragic one this week of the family above) happen because a driver crossed the centerline. All it takes is a few seconds, and your whole life is changed (or even eliminated). It might not even be the person who makes the mistake who is killed; many times innocent people are victims.

I have been grieving for that family (the mother worked at our hospital, although I did not know her). A few seconds of distraction, whether it's texting or turning the head to look at something or trying to kill a wasp in the car or answering the cell phone or changing the radio station or being blinded by the sun - and lives are gone, just like that, in an instant.

I immediately talked to my adult kids and reminded them to stay away from that centerline and to watch oncoming traffic that appears close to the centerline.

But it doesn't have to a life and death situation for a few seconds to alter your life. It only takes a few seconds to say something hurtful that immediately you wish you never said, or to press "send" on that insulting e-mail before you have a chance to think it over, or even to put up that "funny" photo of yourself on Facebook that your future employer will see. Some decisions in life just don't get the rewind opportunity. You may have the ability to handle troubles, financial and otherwise, and you may be able to handle hurt and disappointment and fear, but regret burns itself into your soul and haunts you forever.

It only takes a few seconds.

1 comment:

Cuidado said...

I like that you still give warnings to you kids. My son is in Europe and I closed an email to him yesterday: "I know you don't want to hear this but I have to say it. It's my job. Be good and be careful. Love, Mom"