Last week, I spent a day out in Illinois with my aunt, who happens to be a Media Specialist in an elementary school. Every year, she brings in a children's author to speak to her students (k-5). This year, she reached out and invited me to the presentation. Since children's writing has always intrigued me, and I love few things more than reading (especially to my own kid and those I work with), I jumped at the chance.
I had hoped to leave work right away and get on the road early, but I knew my aunt needed some travel time so I took the extra minute to tidy up my desk, run some errands, and pay a few bills. Since the drive was loooong (for a 24 hour trip), I stopped in Dubuque to stock up on some snacks and browse the aisles of Kwik Star.
I have this bad habit of getting drowsy during the afternoon hours--especially when driving-- so I was looking for a little sugar kick. The problem, was that I had no idea what I wanted. So I stood there, doing what Mason hates most, and just wasted time in the Kwik Star. The people working there had to think something was wrong with me or that I only had 40 cents on hand and was looking for a single item that might cost less than that. Finally, I settled on a "Super Blow-Pop" and some Worther's (to remind me of high school).
And then suddenly, I knew I needed something more. I needed a Snapple. A coworker of mine is always drinking these flavored teas and the other day she was sipping on a Snapple and I thought, "I haven't had a Snapple for YEARS! I think I want a Snapple some day soon!" So the Snapple urge was too strong to overcome and I began my pilgrimage in search of one. The problem was, I had no idea where to find it. It wasn't near the water and not in the same cooler as Gatorade so I momentarily thought I was out of luck. And then, as I wandered over to the cash register, I noticed an entire cooler housing flavored iced coffees, teas, and random drinks that promised to be very refreshing. And there, filling up the two bottom racks of the cooler were flavors upon flavors of Snapple.
So I stood there, for what seemed like hours, trying to decide which flavor to choose. Eventually, I chose something peach flavored and figured it was time to get back on the road. I hopped into my car, unwrapped the Super Blow Pop and was amazed that it took me 45 minutes to reach the gum. (The thing was really a little excessive.) I sipped my coffee and my water and left the Snapple in my cooler next to passenger seat.
My drive was uneventful until I came over a hill just outside Rockford, IL. A lone officer was standing in the middle of Hwy 20, lights flashing, directing us off the road. I was one of the first cars to turn off and we snaked through a tiny town hugging the highway. When we emerged from the detour, I glanced at the intersection and my breath was taken away. I saw a semi truck/ tractor trailor jack-knifed in the middle of a large intersection, with what looked like a crinkled up hood. Then, I looked closer and realized that the crinkle hood.... was a car. And my heart sank. Because every car has a driver and there were too many crinkles in that car to keep a driver safe.
As I made the right hand turn, I noticed two other car pieces strewn around the intersection. There were blue and green doors and hoods and car bits and pieces... all scattered throughout the pavement like parade candy. The wind was momentarily knocked out of me--knowing that I could have easily been one of those cars... had I left work minutes earlier.... or not had that crazy urge to buy a Snapple. Just as my emotions were bubbling to the surface, my phone rang. It was Mason calling to check on me and the drive.
I burst into tears, spilling out an explaination of what I had just seen. And then, I mentioned that for some crazy reason, I stopped in Dubuque for a 20 minute Kwik Star tour-- and couldn't leave until I found my Snapple. And here's the other thing.... I don't even like Snapple. I never drink it. I haven't had a Snapple since before they made the good stuff better! In fact, the un-opened Snapple was still tucked into my cooler long after I returned home the next day-- I never even drank it. But for some reason, I had to have it.
Do I really believe the Snapple saved my life? No, not really. But I'm always ultra-sensitive to the way life has a way of reminding me how short it actually is. I try to remain grateful for the things and people in my life and live as fully as I can (while still allowing myself naps and enough time to spend with friends, read & craft, and watch House Hunters), but when things are busy this is difficult to do! And lately, I've been just trying to keep my head above water as our May calendar seems packed with daily events. As I've mentioned so many times before, 2013 helped wake me up in so many ways, and led me to create several long term goals. But coming across a split-second car accident woke me up to remembering these little daily things...and how thankful I am to even be here, to live and experience life every day. To be busy and filled up, but allow time for myself to slow down, relax, enjoy the things I enjoy.... and maybe even indulge in a Snapple.
Update: I googled the accident after returning home and learned that all four drivers survived the accident! One had been life-flighted to a nearby hospital and was in critical condition, and another had been taken by ambulance to a hospital where they were later released.