It was an afternoon like any other in Uptown. Crisp blue skies. A few homeless guys checking trash cans for empties. Cars waiting their turn at the stop light. Kids playing soccer on the sidewalk and the ball that bounces into the street.
A kid gets hit.
I saw the aftermath on Clarendon and Wilson a few minutes before six pm …or three seconds too late. A ten year old got hit by a car running after a ball.
You know the scene. The split second that changes lives forever.
I looked at the driver of the car. She was Pakistani , about my age, her sari blowing in the wind, her colorful scarf soaking up her tears, her face wrung like a cloth. Whatever was bothering her at 5:59, no longer matters. What bills to mail. The unfinished laundry. What to make for dinner. Long after you forget reading this post, she’ll be reliving that crash over and over again.
And the kid’s mother. She was there, too, her friends holding her back as she wanted to comfort her son who being aided by paramedics. Suddenly, the garbage he forgot to empty that morning was no longer worth a scolding.
Then the boy. His eyes wide were open as the paramedics hovered over him and transferred him into an ambulance. Helpless. In shock. No longer concerned about winning his soccer game.
We all have our BAM! moments.
Moments you keep gaping at, reliving, praying to God, why? The ones that make you wish you could wake up and realize it’s just a bad dream.
A divorce. A death. A bad decision. An accident.
They leave holes in our hearts the size of heart Swiss cheese, shattering our faith, making it impossible to crawl out of bed, yet alone, order a grande, sugar-free vanilla latte with soy milk at the local coffee shop.
Sometimes, I find myself stuck at the various BAM!s of my life, gaping, gaping and gaping… and not moving on.
Often, I feel like the boy on the stretcher, wanting paramedics to deal with the mess. I’m in shock. But they never show up.
Other times, I’m ridden with guilt, because I was responsible in someway for the BAM! But guilt won’t change my situation, it won’t undo what’s been done.
Then sometimes, I’m like that mom, fixing on a BAM! that really isn’t mine. It’s something that hurt a loved one or destroyed a friend. I need to set boundaries, helping while staying a healthy distance away from the yellow caution tape.
It’s easier said then done to leave the scene of a life changing situation.
But we have to or we’ll end up like Lot’s wife. She looked back at her BAM! and was turned into a pillar of tears and never moved on.
So that afternoon, I got back on my bike and rode away from the corner of the accident. The faces of the boy, the mother and the Pakastani woman will forever haunt me. And every time I pass that corner, I will relive that awful day and say a prayer.
As for the BAMS! In my life?
I’m trying to move beyond them too, mustering the courage of a cowboy who rides into the sunset after surviving a bad barroom brawl. He doesn’t know what’s ahead, but he knows he can’t stay in town. I think of John Wayne, and hear him say in his low and slow cowboy drawl:
Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.
I think I’ll take one step forward, even if by nightfall, I’ll taken two steps back. So giddy-up, here I go.