Einstein held that time actually slows as you approach the speed of light. Atticus finds this exceptionally cool. As humans, we most often experience this phenomenon when we--or our loved ones--are in mortal danger. I had that opportunity today and I have to say it was anything but cool.
Our little town is located on one of the most deadly two-lane roads in the state. It's the main route into our fair city; anything else takes you through some seriously backwoods scenery. Now, I don't know the official standings, or where our highway falls in the rankings, but I do personally know several families who have lost loved ones on it. I've also driven past more than my fair share of hideous wrecks, including one that involved a train. This road is so bad that there is an unofficial call-chain in effect between at-home moms: when you learn that the road has been closed (which is only done in the case of a fatality), you spread the news so that all the husbands on their evening commute home can prepare to take the scenic route or log in more work hours instead of behind-the-wheel-waiting-in-traffic hours.
I was driving on this road this morning when one of the many double dump trucks that frequent the route slowed down to make a wide right turn. This meant that everyone westbound had to stop rather suddenly. This was no huge deal for me--I am a granny driver and leave a full seven-to-ten car lengths between me and the car in front of me whenever I travel this highway. As I slowed to a stop behind the Tahoe that had been traveling in front of me, I looked in my rear view mirror. Coming up fast was the massive, fully-loaded logging truck that had been barreling behind me. Suddenly, I had the realization that it was not stopping. As I watched, time most definitely slowed. I remember shouting "Pray, now!" to my children in the back of the Suburban. Immediately, they went from singing and signing to last year's VBS CD to wide-eyed "Dear God ..." praying.
But the truck kept coming.
And in what was surely just milliseconds (but felt like hours) I realized that I had to make a choice. The shoulder of the road was already lined with cars who were waiting to make a right behind the dump truck. And there was no chance of the truck avoiding hitting me. Either I had to sit there and wait for that logging truck to smash into first my three babies and then me, or I had to take my chances by crossing the yellow line and dodging any oncoming traffic in an attempt to get to the safety of the opposite shoulder.
I wasn't so much praying as talking with God when I snapped the wheel to the left and pulled over the yellow. I don't remember what I said, but Jo said it was something along the lines of needing an angel right then and there.
And of course, God showed up.
I can tell you that it was a miracle that no cars were heading east at exactly that moment, but you can't truly appreciate the depth of it unless you know this road. There was nothing coming. When I realized this, I started to cry. I had made up my mind to take a head-on collision (at 60 mph) in the hopes of somehow saving my kids and ... there was nothing there.
The logging truck squealed and groaned to a shuddering stop well past where my Suburban had sat. I guess I wasn't the only one who had been expecting disaster, because the man driving the Tahoe jumped out of his truck and started screaming and pointing at the truck driver. As for me, I just sat on the shoulder watching the lines and lines of cars heading east and cried and shook and praised God.
Time had most certainly slowed just as the situation reached critical mass. I had time to make a choice--certain death for me, probably the child in the center row and maybe save the two kids in the back, or certain death for all of us?--where clearly there should have been no time at all. But what I am really thankful for is that the hand of God rested firmly on us all today. Time is, after all, His.