There was a terrible car accident yesterday less than a mile from where we live — the next neighborhood over — in which two young children were killed, including the daughter of a Tony award-winning Broadway actress who is pregnant and was also struck by the car and remains in stable but critical condition. “It could have happened to any of us,” a neighborhood friend wrote in her Facebook link to the GoFundMe pages started for the two families who lost their babies. And it could have, of course. I’m so afraid of cars and reckless drivers for exactly this reason.
Just the other day we were in a small accident that could have been so much worse. We were in a Lyft car Friday evening a couple weeks ago heading home from Shabbat services and our driver didn’t notice a concrete median in the middle of the road, dividing our lane into two.
It was small and difficult to see in the dark without any reflective painting or signage to indicate its presence. I was sitting in the front and saw it and pointed and yelled just in time. Our driver swerved, and thank God there were no cars in the direction she swerved, which is very unusual for that stretch of street at that time of day. She still hit the median, but very gently, and not as directly and forcefully as she would have had I not been paying attention. And to be honest, I don’t usually pay attention when I’m the passenger in a car driving around NYC. I get terribly carsick and I am either focusing on not throwing up or I’m dealing with the kids (both of whom inherited my weak stomach and often throw up in cars–we should have stock in Dramamine).
Anyway, our home was only two blocks away, and we made it back safely and without injury (although Drew had a bruised rib, according to an ER visit he made a couple days later), but we were all shaken. I felt really lucky; it could have been so much worse. And I was struck by that again today when I heard the sad news of those poor kids run over and killed yesterday just blocks from where our small accident was. I have a very casual belief in something bigger than us — God, a heavenly spirit, whatever you want to call it. And part of my casual belief, which was probably bolstered by our rare attendance at Synagogue that evening, includes guardian presences or angels.
There have been a few times in my life that I’ve felt one has been watching out for me, most of them related to car accidents but not all of them. (I have a really strong feeling that a specific guardian angel helped us get our first Brooklyn apartment, and there was a time when a flight attendant removed me from a plane before take-off and the flight later detoured and would have stranded me in a different country where I didn’t know anyone.) I can’t explain why instances or people sometimes draw the protection of guardians and at other times they don’t. Maybe it’s all wishful or delusional thinking. But it does bring me a sense of gratitude and peace anyway to acknowledge the times it’s felt like I or people I love have escaped devastation, injury, or hardship from something more than just luck.
Have you ever felt like you had a guardian spirit watching over you, protecting you from something? Have you ever felt like, despite being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you were “spared,” almost inexplicably?