Near Misses: Guardian Angels On Duty
Near misses. We’ve all had them—the car accident avoided because someone swerved at the last second, a trip to the emergency room dodged because you jumped backwards instead of forwards, the milk not spilled because your reflexes responded in top form.
Do you ever give a thought to those near misses? What might have been, if the other guy hadn’t swerved, if you had moved in the wrong direction instead of the right one, if you hadn’t stopped the glass from toppling over?
Near misses happen all day long, don’t they? So often, in fact, that we tend to forget about them once they’ve passed. But there are some near misses I haven’t forgotten, a few that might have ended in disaster if the stars hadn’t been in alignment—or our guardian angels not flying so close to the ground (God bless them, they’re busy creatures).
A few New Year’s Eves ago, celebrating at a friend’s house, we went outside to watch the neighbor set off some fireworks. It was just after midnight, and cold enough for the warm breath puffing from our mouths to do a fine impression of a cotton candy cloud before dissipating into the night. There were perhaps fifteen or twenty of us waiting for celebratory sparkles, kids comprising a good part of the group. We stood around watching the guy next door set off his store-bought rockets. The kids weren’t running around, and the adults hadn’t over-imbibed. The neighbor appeared to have taken the right precautions against danger. Except he hadn’t. And one of the bottle rockets he let fly didn’t arc upward and outward away from the crowd as it was supposed to. It shot across the lawn at eye level and zoomed past my face, landing somewhere behind us.
“Wow, that was close,” someone said. “You okay? That almost hit you,” said someone else.
Surprised and shaken, I acknowledged my near miss. Six inches to the right and my face would have been rearranged. I can’t even joke that it would be a good way to justify some cosmetic surgery to straighten out my wrinkles.
A couple of summers ago, boating at Lake Lanier, my youngest daughter decided she was tired of wakeboarding. She gave us the “stop” signal and let go of the rope, sinking like Captain Jack Sparrow going down into the mighty depths with the Black Pearl. The hubster had already slowed the boat and turned to go back to her. Two yahoos on jet skis, paying not the slightest attention to their surroundings—or the law—decided it would be a great idea to fly through the wake. Problem was, one of them was headed straight toward my girl. She waved her arms and hollered at him. He didn’t adjust his course.
By now, all of us on the boat were yelling and waving, jumping up and down. I screamed myself hoarse, heart beating so hard it hurt, terrified for my daughter. My husband hit the horn, turned up the testosterone switch (it makes the engine ridiculously noisy for no good reason other than to annoy the wife), anything to get the attention of these guys while he drove to intercept them.
My daughter, terrified, considered releasing her feet from the wakeboard and ditching her life vest so she could dive under the water and take her chances that way—and would that even be wise in 30 feet of murky lake water?—but, of course, there was no time for her to take this action.
At the last second, the guy with his jet ski racing toward my daughter saw her bobbing in the water. Panic overtook his features, and he swerved. A near miss.
We retrieved our daughter from the water and my husband revved up the boat and chased down the jet skiers—young guys who just didn’t know any better—and had a few choice things to say to them about both their lack of common sense and the law (it is unlawful to jump the wake of another watercraft when you are less than 100 feet away). We know the rules. They didn’t. Near miss.
Thank God, because it would’ve been fatal.
Some near misses, like that last one, we are more than grateful for. The word “grateful” doesn’t even come close to the elation and relief felt once the incident is past. Near misses like that bring home the fragility of all we hold dear, reminding us that things can change in an instant—no, not things…lives…our lives can change in an instant. It is best not to take for granted those near misses. Unlike a cat’s nine lives, we don’t know how many we have.
What near misses have caused you to step back in more than gratitude? Have you ever had a near miss that would have changed your life? Did the experience change you, or alter how you do things?
Be blessed, Buttercup. Wishing you all the near misses you need to make it a wonderful week.
See you Friday for Observations from the Tub—