It was to that same sanctuary we returned several days later. I took time off from work to be with her the rest of the week. “How actually could anybody return to work in circumstances like these,” I thought. Life just came full stop. It was a slap across the face. It’s not unlike how we human beings react when sudden tragedy or near tragedy strikes.
I think it is when we are most alive. Alive on a knife edge of what is important on one side and on the other, what we used to do before. For us there was this immense feeling of gratitude. A newfound appreciation, heightened perceptions, of all that was around our little island – our home, the sun, the sky, the flowers, the sounds of birds and the two of us. Maybe these pictures will give you an idea of what I mean. The early ones reflect a little of this.
The five at the end reflect just a glimpse of Maddie getting back into life. One, appropriately enough was getting back out there with our political work. The others are of Maddie getting back on the horse literally. I’ll leave the “where” part out for another post.
With that heightened awareness of “the now” comes a sensitivity to the fragility of life. We are not in control. We can see how human beings adapt to a reality that is not entirely of their making. It’s almost laughable immediately after a near miss like this. Losing our sense of perspective in this reality cheats of us of our life. From a seminarian perspective, it cheats God and ourself out of what we were created for.
As with all things, life begins to return to normal. We were only too aware of this – having watched what happened in the immediate aftermath of September 11th. We didn’t want it to return to normal. We wanted to learn from this. Change ourselves and the trajectory we were on. And so, in the parking lot on the Sunday following the accident, immediately following church, Maddie made the comment that had often come up between us even prior to the accident, “we need to go over to Europe and try living there as an adventure.” To which I responded almost reflexively, “but we can’t. Not right now. We need this job and we need to wait until this economy is better.”
Maddie stopped me there. Looked at me and said, “Hon, don’t you get it? I almost died…” A slap back out of “reality”, that was. I committed to her then and there that I would ask for a leave of absence for 3 months and make it happen by fall of that year.
I did just that. Guess where I took this photo and when. Click the picture to find out.