I have SO much to blog about tonight: my amazing week with the Weston Noble Alumni Choir . . . all the fun I had showing Decorah to my father-in-law, w/ the able assistance of Kathy and Randi & Co. . . . and most important of all, my brother Steve’s hospitalization over the past few days. (He was in intensive care for several days, but is doing much better now.) But as much as I should be writing about that and more, all I can seem to think about is my own brush with death which occurred this afternoon about three hours after Kathy and I got back home. And although what I’m about to describe happened a full five hours ago, I’m still sort of shaking at the thought of it. But a good case of the jitters has never stopped me from being able to type, so here it goes. . .
Let me set the stage. (I’ll try to be brief.) I’ve been gone to Decorah since Sunday, in order to participate in the Weston Noble Alumni Choir, which sang a concert last night. (more on that someday.) Unfortunately, I found out first thing Monday morning that my brother Steve (who lives in Seattle) had been hospitalized. . . and by the time Kathy and her dad had joined me in Decorah, his situation had worsened – and by Thursday morning he was in Intensive Care. But I was anxious not to unduly worry the members of the choir nor Mr. Noble (who knows Steve well and would have been terribly upset by this turn of events) and decided to pretty much keep all of this to myself, which was really hard. (Thank God for Facebook, which allowed me to share this unexpected concern with people who expressed their love so beautifully.) By the time of the concert Friday night, the word from Seattle was a bit more encouraging – and as Kathy and her dad and I journeyed back to Racine today, we were glad to hear both from Sonja and Randi (who were out there with him) that my brother was doing so much better. As s we walked through the door of our house right around 2, we were really wiped out from what had been an incredibly taxing week with all kinds of emotional up’s and down’s. Nevertheless, I felt the need to get my weary butt to Razor Sharp and get on the treadmill for at least a little while before it closed and work off some of that Mabe’s Pizza which I’d eaten too much of over the last few days.
5:10. I was on my way home from Razor Sharp, stopped at the corner of Green Bay Road and 16th Street, waiting to turn right, when suddenly a TERRIBLE head-on collision occurred right in the middle of the intersection in front of me. Apparently both cars had green lights but one of them turned left in front of the oncoming vehicle rather than yielding. The impact was so severe that it sent one of the two cars immediately crashing into into the left front corner of my car. . . which in turn drove my car right into the corner light pole. It all happened in a matter of maybe three seconds- not enough time to think- not even to utter so much as a one-word prayer. It was quite a jolt, as you might guess, but fortunately I was wearing my seat belt and that kept me from bouncing around too much and probably saved me from some serious hurts. But I’m fortunate in still more ways. If I had been in the midst of turning right on to Green Bay Road, then the car that impacted mine would have crashed right into the driver’s side door and into me. A couple feet difference and there might be two Bergs hospitalized tonight instead of just one.
First little problem – for some reason I had Kathy’s car keys with me, so in order for her to get to the accident scene, she had to call on an angel of assistance in the neighborhood: Kate Potter Barrow. And in the meantime, I also called Kathy’s dad because I had the good sense to have this accident happen to me less than a block away from where he lives. And it was amazing to me how comforting it was to have those three familiar faces there at the accident scene.
Second little problem – in addition to my tough little Honda, which may have been totaled (we don’t know that yet, of course) – there seems to have been some damage done to my cell phone, which I guess must have somehow been tossed around in the crash. I found it between the front passenger seat and the door- and ever since it has been working very oddly. All by itself it will suddenly and spontaneously call our house- or switch to camera mode – or dial the number 4 – or bring up various pages of the calendar mode as though images in a rapidly moving kaleidoscope. (Sarah Gorke, who was at our house not longer after the accident and witnessed some of this weirdness, was suggesting demon possession as one explanation.) I’m just glad that I got off those two calls to Kathy and her dad before the thing started going crazy.
My cell phone’s demon possession was just one of any number of things about the accident over which we had a good laugh. . . and the biggest source of amusement was the accident’s peculiar, almost absurd timing. But there is nothing at all funny about what a close call this was – and later this evening, as Kathy and I indulged in some ice cream from Caleo Cafe, that little treat tasted especially good. And tonight our familiar bed will feel especially inviting. And tomorrow morning, if I wake up with an even stiffer neck than I have now, I will nonetheless be one happy man with a lot to be thankful for.
pictured above: Kathy snapped this picture with her cell phone as my car was about to be towed away. If you look closely, you can see the crease above the front wheel where the car was forced into the light pole. The other side of the car, which bore the brunt of the impact more directly, looks quite a bit worse. But the accident only reinforced for me how tough Hondas are.
By the way, the other two drivers are okay.