Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
Barbara was a typical working soccer mom. With her college sweetheart Matt, she had three young kids who ran her around day in and day out. Not to mention she her nursing career she had to fit it too. She spent most sleep-deprived nights counting all the things she had to do.
This time of year, Christmas, was especially busy. There were presents to buy and wrap, cards to send out, holiday parties to shop for, cookies to bake, school plays to attend, and decorations to put up to make the house a Christmas wonderland for the kids. Matt helped where he could, but it seemed like one task for him turned into twenty long questions for her. It was usually just easier to do it on her own.
Every year, she held her breathe from Thanksgiving to New Years, constantly anxious at the dwindling time clock to get everything done.
After a ten to ten midnight shift just one week away from Christmas, she needed to stop by the mall after a to get a few things she could not find on Amazon this year. Luckily the hospital had a parking garage, so she didn’t have to chisel the overnight ice and snow off her car, like the many she saw when pulled out of the parking lot.
As she drove, bopping her head along to the Christmas music on the radio, she went through her mental shopping list. At Apostrophe, she needed to buy those teen jeans the girls wanted, she thought. And Sam asked for those static magnet things we saw when we stood in line for two hours to see Santa a few weeks ago. And that special perfume Matt’s mother likes is at Macy’s. Oh, and don’t forget to go by the personalization store to pick up the matching Christmas t-shirts. I hope I ordered the right sizes, she thought. “And I hope they are in, there just is not a lot of time if they are delayed,” she muttered aloud.
Just as the radio played Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer, a deer popped in her right path without notice as if in time with the music. In a quick jolt of the steering wheel, she sighed in relief, just missing him. She bumped along the side of the road with the plow’s packed snow drifts and looked for a way back onto the road. When she turned back onto the pavement, she hit a big patch of black ice and started to spin.
“What do they say again, turn into the spin, right?” she panicked a little and turned the wheel.
But the car just kept spinning and spinning. Suddenly time slowed as her head whirled and swooned with each rapid rotation.
What would happen to Matt and the kids? He wouldn’t be able to take care of them by himself, her mind drifted. How would the girls grow up without a mother? She would miss their proms, weddings, grandkids.
Then she began to get dizzy and flashes of her life played in her mind like a movie. Her first kiss, their wedding, the birth of her kids, last summer at the lake with her mom and dad. They all seemed to be smiling at her as she saw each of their faces in her imagined state.
Then in a minute, it all abruptly stopped, pulling her forward into the steering wheel. She looked up in a daze. Her car had careened across the road into a snow bank. The car was a stuck and a little banged up, but she was ok. And she had only gone about 20 ft.
It was only minutes, she sighed in relief. It seemed like forever.
She composed herself, found her cell phone, and called the insurance company towing service. They said they would be there in 20 minutes. Glad that the car was still running, so she did have heat, Barbara surveyed her short and perilous journey through the car window. She saw her snowy tire tracks of circles go across the road and sighed again in relief.
Still a little shocked, she couldn’t stop thinking about what she saw. Her kids, her family, her life, all passing by in just a few minutes. The life she lived and had yet to live.
“Wow lady,” the tow truck driver said looking at her car in the steepled snow bank. “You were really lucky the snow stopped you. A few minutes more and you would have been off the road completely.”
Barbara looked over at the sharp drop-off of wooded embankment he was pointing too and tried to catch her breathe.
On the truck ride to the body shop, Barbara was rifling through her purse and found her Christmas to do list.
“Why did I spend so much time on all this fussing?” she wondered as she crumbled up the list. “I need to spend more time with my family and less time on all of this stuff.”
Copyright (c) 2019, Suzanne Rudd Hamilton