My youngest brother would be moving from New York to Atlanta a couple days after Thanksgiving. It saddens me that I will most likely see less of him and his family now. I didn't think I was seeing enough of them to begin with. The days fly by so quickly. It's easy to take for granted that our loved ones will always be conveniently around. But I am glad that they are moving from a crowded apartment to a house. The move is definitely an upgrade for them, so it was easy to feel good about their departure rather than selfishly grumpy.
It would not be a great exaggeration to say I barely had a care in the world as my wife and daughter and I drove from the garden state to Da Boogie Down. Even relative lightness of traffic was on our side because we hit the road earlier than most, yet were careful to coordinate our road time with Ava's nap schedule. Not a single snag had been hit as we made it past the toll and glided over the George Washington Bridge. When the traffic in our lane slowed suddenly, it was with some nervousness that Erin applied pressure on the breaks. Since we were driving within the speed limit and there were no bad weather elements to deal with, there was sufficient time for us to pull to a stop. This could not be said about the idiot driving behind us. Unable to stop in time, and quite possibly not even attempting to, he instead swerved suddenly around us, clipping the passenger side door but otherwise leaving us safe. Ava did not stir from her slumber in the back seat while Erin and I turned to each other and shared a moment of stunned shock.
The occupants of a white convertible that was a few car lengths ahead of us did not share our luck. Their vehicle was hit hard from behind, turned violently 90 degrees to the left, and sped across the lanes until coming to a brutal stop when smacking into the cement divider of the bridge. Their car was briefly airborne and then landed with an awful thud. The four passengers elevated within the car but none were thrown from it. From the look we got at them, they were stunned and quite possibly injured, but probably not severely or fatally. Then again, my unprofessional diagnosis from a gaze isn't particularly reliable. This all took place within a matter of seconds.
Police were on the scene instantly. We made our way around the accident area, grateful to be unharmed and not wanting to be held up for who knows how long on the bridge when good food enjoyed with loved ones in my childhood home awaited. Between the amount of people in the house, the tightness of space, and the energy level of a child who will not sit still for a waking second unless absorbed in a favorite TV show, Thanksgiving dinner was nearly as chaotic as those terrifying and illuminating seconds on the GW Bridge. But I'll take the good kind of chaos over the flip side any day of the week. Erin, Ava and I are safe and sound. This is what matters.
Have our lives been significantly altered by drastically changed mindsets? This remains to be seen. It's easy to state that we now intend to live and love and create with reckless abandon, but considerably tougher to pull off. Day jobs and daycare woes and less sleep than desired continue to intervene and make it challenging to live a life less ordinary. Then again, perhaps it's not so much about the results as it is about the effort. And since we did emerge unharmed, we continue to have an unspecified if not indefinite amount of time to pursue that which we dream about most passionately. I did not require extra incentive to feel gratitude for each breath I take, but it came anyway and accomplished just that. You never know which moment will be your last, and it's probably unrealistic to live each one as though that's what it very well may be. But what I can do is take the bare minimum for granted and try to make as many of them as productive and gratifying as can be managed.