It happened in a part of town that attracted many on a sunny Saturday. There they could enjoy the offerings of the big box stores, movie theaters, banks, car wash services, and fast food restaurants that filled the area.
Nothing was unusual about the intersection’s condition. Bumper met bumper and stayed a while. Drivers settled in with their music, cell phones, and text messaging, all waiting for the green light’s reward.
All except for the woman.
She inched her way out of the shopping center parking lot and onto the avenue. The cars were going south. She was headed north. If those two vehicles would let her squeeze through, she could avoid the long wait.
She’d have to cross a double-solid line to make that left turn. Illegal, she knew.
She pushed into two lanes of crowded, opposing traffic to make her turn. A tall delivery truck blocked her view to the left.
She looked to the right. The traffic signal had turned green and the cars were making their moves.
She looked to the left and saw the truck driver’s glare.
Take a chance. Cross those lines. Step on the gas. Make that turn. Now.
And she did.
There was no time to stop. I saw a woman’s panicked face before my car collided with hers. The impact threw me forward and my chest slammed into the steering wheel.
The images of her silent screams are still with me because it was during those moments — seconds? — that I thought I was going to die.
Then I saw the children. I wondered if they were hurt. With shaking hands, I drove the car out of the intersection.
A stranger ran over with my front license plate and gave it to me. I placed it on my passenger seat. Its new shape made me shiver.
The woman’s husband approached me. He was helpful, calm and apologetic. The children were not hurt, yet the woman paced around her car and continued to weep.
I offered consolation, but she would not look at me.
While we waited for the sheriff, the husband and I exchanged information. My sister arrived and I cried. The woman talked on her cell phone while sitting inside her car.
She never spoke to me. Not a word.
A few days later, I felt a holy nudge to send the family a note. I thanked them for the pleasant way they had handled the incident, expressed my hope that their children were well, and let them know that my injuries were healing.
I didn’t hear from them, but I paid it no mind. My car was a total loss, and it was a month before I could live life without pain and a thoracic belt.
The woman? I don’t think she came out of it half as well.