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SideLines: You never know what's coming

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 11:31 a.m. CDT

I’ve often said if I go before my time, it’ll be in a traffic accident. I’ve driven so much over the years, I’ve seen too many crazy drivers do too many crazy things.

It was about 4 p.m. on an overcast day. I was driving home from work, on the same highway I always take. I was coming up on a little hill, just high enough that you can’t see what’s coming on the other side. A silver car, similar to mine, was approaching in the opposite lane. Another car, also silver, was next to it.

There are little jags in the road that create an optical illusion, making it seem someone is coming right at you when, in fact, they’re just following the car in the other lane.

Not this time.

It took me a second to realize the second car was headed straight at me. The driver had just started to pass the first car.

What happened next was a thing of beauty, something we couldn’t have choreographed any better if we had tried. Each of us knew what we had to do instinctively, and we did it without hesitating.

Slamming on his brakes, the driver in the oncoming lane swerved to my left as far as he could toward the ditch. I went over the center line, giving the driver in my lane enough room to swerve to the ditch on the other side. The only thing that saved us, besides the grace of God, was that the second car had just started to pass the first. Had the two cars been even, there wouldn’t have been any room to maneuver and we would have hit head-on.

And just like that, it was over. We avoided what would have been a multicar pileup. On another day, a few seconds either way, I probably wouldn’t be here to write about this.

I thought about calling 911. Are you supposed to report something that almost happened? I also thought about stopping to see if the other driver was all right. Instead, I kept going as if nothing had happened.

I didn’t panic. I’d like to think it was because of all the years and miles I’ve driven. The truth is, it all happened so fast there wasn’t time to think, only react. Or maybe it wasn’t me; maybe our guardian angels put their hands on the steering wheels for us. Whatever happened, the whole thing was unreal, like a dream where you know something is happening, but you can’t quite believe it.

Instead of my life passing before my eyes, I was in this giant void where I didn’t feel anything. If that was going to be the end, so be it. I suppose that’s how the end will come. When it’s time, it’s time.

Maybe the whole thing was a message from above: always be on guard, because anything can happen at any time to change our lives forever. A Rockford TV journalist was recently diagnosed with leukemia and died two days later. She was just 29, the very picture of health.

We never know what’s going to happen, which is one of the mysteries and even the beauties of life.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I definitely have something to be thankful for. It may not be what you think.

I realized it doesn’t matter what I’ll ever accomplish in life or what anyone thinks of me. Only one thing really matters. Almost every weekend, I recite the Lord’s Prayer. It’s not just something I can do from memory, from repeating it hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. It’s something I truly believe. Although there are still some things I wouldn’t mind doing, while I have Jesus, I don’t really need a bucket list.

When my time does come, I know I’ll be ready.

And that’s what I’m most thankful for.

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