Your life is supposed to flash before your eyes.
And I didn’t see anything but the swerve of the road, the straight dashed lines becoming curved bee-paths as I tried to control the metal monster ravaging the pavement at seventy miles per hour.
The other car didn’t even look. It just started coming right: over, over over - me, in its blind spot, unaware because I was trying to pass on my right, my eyes over my shoulder, until mom started yelling, “Watch him!” And then, an inch between our cars, I turned the wheel so sharply to get away, and it felt like all control was gone. The inky peach sky was melting into the horizon and into the ditch, barely past the light post, where I suddenly found myself.
Shift into park. Assess all nerves and body parts - all in working order, no pain. No contact made by the car. Mom is okay. She leaves the car, starts towards the policeman who has pulled over next to us, who saw everything. Hear them talking: muffled buzz. Suddenly, I’m hyperventilating and crying. Outside my window, the cop, “Are you okay, ma’am?” Open the car door. Step out. Nod; but still crying. Ask mom, “Is the car okay?” She laughs, “That doesn’t matter. And it’s fine.” She tries to hug me, but I’m shaking too badly to reciprocate. Words and images flash by - Mom calls her boyfriend, the cop assesses the car, then he pulls it onto the shoulder of the road from the ditch.
All the while, I’m a shaking leaf of grass in the Illinois evening, standing by, seeing all of this unfold but not really understanding it, still not grasping how my atoms are all still aligned.
On the ride home, noiseless tears kept slipping down my cheeks as I cradled myself in the passenger seat, and Mom just thought I was still upset from the almost-accident. But all I could think about was my sightlessness. In those moments when the car was controlled by no one or nothing, and I saw us steering towards the light pole, I saw nothing of my life as I’ve heard happens. I thought I was dying right then, that those moments may have been my last, and all I could see was the beauty of the last moments of the sunset. I felt like a failure, like all my life had been a heap of little somethings that, in summation, became a whole mastaba of nothing that I would be buried in. If I saw nothing, then I must have done nothing.
But I think now that I may have been wrong on that ride back, that my adrenaline had rushed to brain.
Maybe my life is adumbrated by that sunset. It’s filled with beauty, and indicates beginnings and endings, and is a time of rising and falling, and is a time of coalescing colors and times and feelings and people. That’s why I saw only peach, coral, the lightest of yellows, and the faintest of blues before my black car skidded around into the ditch - life is a sunset.