There, but for the grace

I headed down Troost this morning shivering in the frigid car, stiff fingers nestled in the soft leather gloves that I got when we lost my mother-in-law.  I found them in her top dresser drawer, unworn, still in their box.  I slid them onto my hands and my sister-in-law laughed in the delightful, unrestrained way she has.  She said, If the glove fits! and they became mine.

I checked the thermostat.  Ten degrees.  That is not many degrees, I heard my son say, as he has said so many times.  True, that.  My eyes darted back to the road, as a siren’s wail cut through the morning air.  A police car streaked past me and I pulled over, startled, worried.

An ambulance had stopped in the middle of the road just ahead of me.  I could not tell what lie beyond it until I pulled slowly forward.  Then I saw:  A small blue car, maybe a Honda, smashed against a tree, angled onto the sidewalk, driver’s door hanging open, signal light blinking: on, off, on, off.  A police officer stood with his hands on his hips, unmoving. No one else hovered in the road, nor on the sidewalk. I lifted my foot off the gas, letting my vehicle drift.  I gazed at the mangled car; at the still and silent man studying its crumbled fender and bent hood. On, off, on, off. No sound broke the silence.

The ambulance remained stationary as I drove past.  I pulled my eyes forward and stared at the traffic ahead of me and wondered.  As I drove to the place where I would turn to travel east to the highway, I glanced in the rear view mirror.  The officer had not moved.  The ambulance’s lights still flashed in the cold bright morning.  Nothing had changed.

I kept driving.  As  I signaled for the merge to 71-North, I could not stop myself from thinking, there, but for the grace, go I.

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