Monday, November 23, 2009

It could have been his last day

When my husband George was leaving for work this morning, I said an extra prayer for his safety on the road. He covers so many miles driving to his clients’ homes and schools to tune pianos or do home renovation. Today he was to tune four pianos in a school 50 miles from home. That's a long drive. Then 50 miles back.

I didn't realize that Jacob had said good-bye to George twice, and asked for extra prayer. Jacob had a dream last night that George died. He kept dreaming it over and over last night, but we didn't find out until later.

At 8:30 AM the phone rang. I saw George's cell phone number on the caller ID, but George didn’t respond right away when I said, “Hello?”

“Hello?” I said again. “Hello...?” Larissa came closer, trying to listen in and figure out who was calling.

Finally, George’s voice came on the line.

“Hi, how are you?” Hm, this wasn’t a typical before-work conversation. And he didn’t normally call me at this time.

“Uh, I’m OK. I’m getting ready for work…”

“I, um, I had an accident. I totaled the van. A woman pulled out in front of me and I honked and tried to avoid her, but I hit her kind of head on.”

I could feel my face drain. “Are you OK?”

“I have some pain in my stomach.”

“And the woman?”

“She’s OK. We’re both outside waiting for the police to come.”

“Well, you won’t be able to get to work today, not unless I come and get you, then you drive back 50 miles and drop me off at the office, then you drive back again…”

“Come and get me and we’ll sort it out. Take exit 7 from the highway and then just follow the road south. You can’t miss me. It’ll take you about 40 minutes to get here.”

Not exactly the way I hoped to start my work week with deadlines that I can't possibly meet looming this week and, of course, homeschooling to do while in my spare time I prepare for the Dallas mission trip. But thoughts of deadlines and mission trips faded from my thoughts as I wondered what shape George was really in. Would I find him by the road waiting for me – or in a hospital? Could the pain in his stomach be from internal bleeding?

"What's going on?" the kids wanted to know as soon as I hung up. My end of the conversation hinted that things weren't quite right, so I filled them in on the details. Then I called my boss and left a message that I would be in late, and why.

When I was ready to leave, I gathered the kids for prayer – for George's well-being and for my safety. We couldn't find Jacob at first, and when Alexandra finally located him in the basement storage room, he told us he'd been praying. It was obvious that he'd been crying as well.

The drive south was beautiful this sunny, late fall morning – over hills, past corn fields with yellowed stalks, by farms, horses, cows. I kept wondering just how far south I needed to go. I hadn't thought to ask. Is it possible that I passed the accident site? Could the cars have been towed and victims in the hospital, and I would just drive by and not know where to find them? After all, I'm one of very few people I know who does not have a cell phone, so I couldn't even call my husband from the road unless I stopped in a store or a house.

Worry gnawed at me, and I kept driving until, at last, I came upon a tan sedan whose front end was demolished. Our green van was nowhere to be seen, but there was my husband, pacing, cell phone in hand, beret on his head, talking apparently to the insurance agent. I parked on the side of the road in front of a large, white rural home. I got out of the van and got some information about the accident from Don, the father of the 16-year-old girl who had pulled out from her driveway right in front of George's van. She'd had her license three months and was rushing off to school. She was late and didn't look.

Later, on the drive to see the van in its final resting place where it had been towed, George filled me in. "I was driving along about 55 miles per hour when I saw this car pulling out of the driveway. I thought it would stop. I honked the horn, slammed on my brakes and kept honking, then I pulled into the left lane to try to avoid it, but she kept going right into that left lane. I hit her almost head on. Fortunately, I was going only about 35 at the time. If I hadn't gone into the left lane, I would have crushed the driver's door – and the girl. I don't think that she would have lived.

"Before I hit, I knew I was going to hit and I wasn't sure if I was going to live. There was smoke and smell of plastic and a terrible odor. All the engine fluids leaked. The airbags went off. And then I just walked out. I walked out of the van like nothing happened. And she walked out."

She got a cut on her lip. George is bruised from the seat belt cutting into his chest. But, oh, it could have been so much worse!

This evening at dinner and afterward, we surrounded George with extra hugs, and I shed a few tears of joy. Praise God that we still have George with us today!

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)