March 29, 2011

a moment like this

"life is too short. grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. laugh when you can. apologize when you should. and let go of what you can’t change. kiss slowly. love deeply. and forgive quickly. take chances. give everything. and have no regrets. life is too short to be unhappy. you have to take the good with the bad. smile when you're sad. love what you got. and always remember what you had. always forgive but never forget. learn from your mistakes. but never regret. people change and things go wrong. but always remember: life goes on!" unknown

this past monday night was just a normal night like any other. i had been busy scoring tests and writing reports over at school and decided to call my parents when i got home. they were driving around dallas on a trip to visit my brother and started telling me all about their day. i was sitting at my kitchen table finishing some work, and we were laughing hysterically as we exchanged funny stories of the children in our lives. and that's when it happened...
that's when i heard every detail of the crash. the screeching of tires. the sound of another car slamming into theirs. the sound of my mom crying, "oh, we've been hit!"

and a thousand thoughts began racing in my mind. i felt completely helpless, not having any clue of the extent of what had just happened. but i stayed on the phone, praying, until i heard my mom repeating some letters and numbers over and over again. what were these numbers? why was she repeating them? and that's when i realized that the man who had just slammed into my parents' car...was driving away.
and then a new emotion took over: sheer anger. i would later learn that this man rear-ended my parent's car with his truck, going 50 miles an hour, and then drove away not caring whether they lived or died. and in that moment of helplessness, being 6 hours away. in that moment of madness, not knowing what had just happened. and in that moment of anger, wanting to do something to defend my parents against this criminal, i used the only tool that i had to use: my memory.

my mom and i kept repeating his license plate number over and over again together until we had it firmly in our brains. we both wrote it down, and she gave it to the police who were able to learn where the man lives. and he'll have his jail time to think about whether driving away was his best decision.

my parents ended up walking away from the crash with nothing more than whiplash and soreness. their car was totaled with the trunk of the car completely being crushed. and when the tow truck got there, the man driving it said that it was a wonder they were alive.

and this moment. these few seconds. this normal monday. it was a literal wake-up call that totally changed my life. suddenly nothing mattered to me except that everyone i loved and cared about was safe. suddenly any arguments or previous conflicts were meaningless. suddenly school work or bills or weekend plans or any other issues simply didn't matter.

it's amazing how we live, so unaware of the days passing by. weeks go by in the blink of an eye, but suddenly when confronted with tragedy, every second becomes critically important. our fast-paced lives turn into slow-motion moments, and we wait on pins and needles not knowing the outcome. suddenly we pray. suddenly we regret. suddenly we apologize. suddenly we forgive. suddenly we love.

and our lives are defined and determined by these moments. the almost or complete tragedies that we encounter in life completely change our perspective of it. these moments teach us to apologize when we need to and to not allow any unnecessary arguments. they teach us to forgive quickly and to realize that at any moment we might never be able to say "i'm sorry" or "i love you" or "you're wonderful" ever again. and they teach us to love deeply and unconditionally and to do whatever we can for the ones we love.

today i hugged my parents, and i'm not sure i've ever appreciated the opportunity more. i now understand the importance of a day. the importance of an hour. the importance of a moment that can totally change lives. and it is my new ambition to live every day as if i might experience a moment like this.
"let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." james 1:19

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