Sunday, October 3, 2010
Almost two weeks ago, three cars collided on 390N. The talking head on the news reported that a woman was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries. When I saw the report, I had a weird, heebie-jeebie feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is unlike me, to have weird heebie-jeebie feelings in ANY part of my body. (I’m not one for supernatural “signs” in the form of nausea.) Still, I felt compelled to call my mother (who lives off of 390N) and make sure she was home, safe. She was, already in her pajamas, wondering why I thought she would be on the 390 at all. I dunno, lady. Maybe you went to the mall or something.
I pondered who the woman might be. “It could be someone we know,” I said to my mom. We hung up and I, somewhat subdued, took a Tums and went to bed.
The woman with “severe” head injuries turned out to be my friend, Lydia. A man lost control of his car, drove across the median, and slammed into Lyd’s vehicle. Lyd lost consciousness, crawled out of her car via the passenger door, and took an ambulance ride to the hospital. She was released later that evening.
Lydia is one my oldest and best friends. We’ve been through a lot together. I stole her best friend in the fourth grade, she slapped my face (she says accidentally) in the fifth grade, and in the eighth grade, I peed all over her kitchen floor. (First time I had Vodka. I’m not particularly proud of that incident.) Lyd cleaned it up. She’s one of those friends- the long-term, will-always-be-there-for-you friends. I sincerely hope you have one.
Lyd has to have surgery next week- her orbital bone is in need of repair or else, and these were her words, her “eyeball will sink into her cheek.” (Ack! I now realize I’ve been taking my orbital bone totally for granted.) She also suffered a concussion and is bruised and beaten. She limps, thanks to a swollen knee, and her eye looks like you would imagine someone with a compromised orbital bone’s eye would look. (It is a lovely shade of aubergine.)
But if you saw the pictures of her car, you would know how lucky she is. How lucky everyone who loves her is. If you have an active imagination, you might note how the insides of the engine hanging from the crumpled hood are reminiscent of something out of a horror movie. It might be a miracle that she is alive.
Incidences like this remind me that we’re all standing at the edge of a precipice, and that fate can push us into the abyss just as easily as it holds us back. And the precariousness of this situation sometimes wears on me.
Everything is meaningless. Wisdom is meaningless. Pleasure is meaningless. Folly is meaningless. Advancement is meaningless. Toil is meaningless. Riches are meaningless.
(Because, of course, you can’t take it with you.)
For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?
Did you know that the book of Ecclesiastes is a favorite among atheists? I am a person of faith, yet I so often I have an atheist’s heart. I have perched at the edge of the precipice and looked down- my heart filled with nothing. No passion, no love, no anger, just a void. Just a dark, deep, chasm. And I have wanted to bury myself in the darkness. (see endnote)
We took communion today at church. We were asked to examine ourselves- to make sure our hearts were clean before we took the bread and the wine. (Which is really just juice. So lame.)
And my heart held no grievances, no bitterness, no angst- nothing, really. My heart was empty.
As a woman of faith, I believe there is a bridge that will take me across the chasm. That went the time comes, my leap of faith will carry me to the other side. I know that life is not meaningless… that my loves, aches, and toils will have counted for something. That I’m loved when I don’t feel loved. That God makes everything that is bad into something that is good: that people of faith are “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor 6:10)
And this evening, this verse brings me peace. (I’m working toward the rejoicing. Don’t want to get ahead of myself, here.) And I’m eternally grateful for my loves, my family, my friend- for her safety and for her meaningful life. Her ever-meaningful life.
My husband, on the other hand, needs your prayers. On the way home from church today, he was stuck behind a particularly terrible driver. He gritted his teeth and his gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles a most angry white, and when the woman finally turned away from us, he shouted, “LADY! I do not forgive you. At least, not until the next communion.”
At least he didn’t give her the finger.
Endnote: Don't call 911. I'm not saying I feel like that NOW- this is just an example of the sort of depressing stuff depressed people feel occasionally. 911 NOT NECESSARY. ALSO- I don't mean to imply that all atheists feel nothing. Obviously not. I don't mean to offend. If you're an atheist and you take offense, it is probably because you are a perfectly LOVELY human being. I'm going to stop now.