Instantaneous Illumination


We all have those images that we know exist but that we never want to be a witness. For me, there are scenes of loss of human control, the impossibility of human intervention. It’s like watching the body of a grown man being thrown around like a child’s toy, and hearing all the air that should have been in his body leave it in an instant, or seeing the pure whiteness of a bone coming out of the flesh. We can see this kind of end result coming every time if we are aware of our surroundings but once in motion, the mathematics involved will not allow any significant interference…

I was on 270 between Denver and Commerce City earlier this week. This stretch of road has been the same for as long as I can remember. It’s awfully narrow with two lanes in both directions. Even though it was mid day, there was less than two car spaces between all of us who were racing to beat one another to our self important destination. I consider myself a cautious driver although I’ve yet to meet anyone who agrees, but no one can deny that I am highly observant.

There white SUV was three cars ahead of me in the left lane, I was in the right. I saw what looked like a large piece of scrap metal fall from the bed of a pickup truck. Judging the way it fell it must have had plenty of weight to it, maybe innards of an AC unit. When it hit the pavement it skid rather than tumble on the road. The SUV was following closer than the speeds required, but who the hell wasn’t? It somehow swerved and missed the hunk of steel but it immediately began to fishtail. My boy was riding shotgun, I needed him to see this as well for some twisted reason.

“Check it out, she’s going to lose it.”

The SUV’s backend whipped back and forth savagely four times while somehow remaining on the road. I checked my rear view and amazingly enough I wasn’t in jeopardy of kissing my own dashboard. That’s when physics that I’ll never understand took a hold of the SUV. It lifted into the air like a kick flipped skateboard, while traveling the width of a lane. It reached the dirt median sending up a plume of dirt as one of the tires touched, and flipped two more times. It was somehow graceful in its horrific movement. I found myself parallel to it as it came to rest on all four tires. What I saw next is what disturbed me the most.

Before the SUV had time to completely settle, while the chasse was still swaying back and forth, a small woman pushed open the front passenger side door and sprinted around the front end of the truck. She was a younger woman, maybe in her mid thirties. There was blood running down her face from a gash stretching from above her right eyebrow and disappearing well into the hair line after crossing jaggedly across her forehead. There were no screams coming out of her mouth, no panicky, indecisive movements from her body. Her face and whole aura was that of absolute focus and determination. Nothing would have stopped this tiny woman from getting to wherever she was going.

This was an amazing scene to me. Basic psychology has taught me that humans under incredible situations of injury and or terror have a built in neurological response that lets us perform or flee. It’s always one thing to read it in a book, but a whole other when it’s happening in front of you. I’ve seen a lot of animalistic behavior with my own eyes, but this was selfless. This woman probably shouldn’t have been moving, let alone running around a car so with such grace and speed. I was so stuck on the “wow” factor of this my ignorance didn’t allow me to venture into the “why”. But I would catch up momentarily.

I was parallel to the SUV now separated by only a lane. The cars in front as well as behind me had pulled off, or simply stopped. There was no obstruction to my view.

The woman reached the other side of the SUV. She didn’t stop at the driver’s door though. Oh my God!

There was a small child in the back seat.

I couldn’t watch this, all kinds of twisted images started flooding my mind. In an instant I envisioned her pulling out a bloody lump of what was her child… I immediately drove away.

It was cowardly to not get out as others were to see if there was anything I could do to help. I just couldn’t, I selfishly couldn’t see this. I’m ashamed of my reaction. In reflection I know that there wouldn’t have been much I could have done had I gotten out to help. I have zero medical training; I didn’t have any first aid gear in the car… But still, coulda, woulda, shoulda, right?

I have had a personal revelation though. At thirty years old I’m realizing I’m still learning to respect life. It’s sad to say, but it’s true. It has taken me this many years to actually slow down and care about anyone other than myself… The thought of that poor woman’s child being killed in that crash is… it’s… It’s the perfect example of how I don’t know shit! I barely know about life, how can I even speak on how others feelings about death?

I’ve been hateful towards people in my past about the loss of their children. I’ve said some terrible things about abortion, or to the loss of a child due to drugs. For this I wish I could take these things back but I can’t. I can’t even tell these people I’m sorry, the damage is done. How much nerve did I have messing with a mother’s pain? I have no right.

I Googled the crash the following day, but there was nothing. Is that because no one was seriously hurt, or was there too many accidents that day in Denver for this one to make the news? Was this family here illegally thus unworthy of the reading public’s concern? I hope they are all okay. I will attempt to keep the thought of all the bad that can go wrong with me every time I get behind the wheel from now on.

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