Friday, October 18, 2013

the street of suffering

This morning I called (handsfree, of course) the Sober Husband as I drove home from driving the children to school, and I completely lost my train of thought as I passed the most eye-riveting wreck.  A mid-sized sedan had somehow become one with a large garbage truck, and it was mesmerizing.  I wished aloud that I could have had a red light so I could have gotten a better look at this really breathtaking wreck.  The Sober Husband, speaking from afar, was not able to appreciate the strange beauty of this, probably thinking his cold-blooded wife was ignoring the human cost, but I reassured him that the body of the car, where any people had been, was unscathed.  The car itself was clearly never going to be driven again, but whoever drove it would live to ride again (although probably never to see a Recology truck without shuddering).

In the afternoon Lola and I were talking as we walked to the car after school, and I distracted her.  She turned her head to speak to me and hit her temple hard on a large metal box projecting from a pole exactly at the level of her head.  I could hear the audible thwack of her skull hitting the box.  Lola was speechless with pain, and I felt sure I was to blame for this by not seeing the box and warning her in time.  The pain was horrific, and it was such a random accident.  We have parked in that same spot and walked past that pole innumerable times over the last five years.

As Lola uncomplainingly cried from the pain in the backseat, I started the car and turned the corner, trying to console her.  Around that corner, on the same block where Lola had hurt her head, a police car was double parked with its lights flashing.  I slowed way down, and in a flash I saw what the police car was protecting:  a coroner's van, and then a body -- an actual corpse, covered with a white sheet but unmistakable -- being loaded into that van, and I heard the horrible sound of someone crying in true hysteria, screaming and crying.  Lola and I were both shocked into silence.

This  set of three random awful things all happened on the same city block during one particular day.  I could find the car accident fascinating in the absence of anyone being hurt, but the horror of the body and the awful crying had no beauty.   It felt like it could have been our tragedy, but it wasn't.  We were only passing through.

No comments: