a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Counting My Blessings

Every time I am on the phone with my mom, my dogs beg for treats.  They know how to play me.  Sometimes, I can put off the inevitable indulgence by letting them run in the backyard for a few minutes. 

So, my pacing routine while on the phone includes wandering around the dining room table, passing by the sliding door to the backyard frequently in hopes of stalling. 

Last Sunday night, at 8:20pm, I had just circled the dining room table on a lap that included letting the dogs back into the house. 

Thank goodness.

I had just reached the far end of the dining room table when I heard the sound of a crash.  Right outside my window.  The sound got louder and closer and finally stopped with a crash against the house. 

I frantically told my mom our house had been hit and got off the phone to call 911.  As I dialed 911, I opened the curtain to check out the damage.  I was faced with headlights directly outside the glass of the window.

I headed to the kitchen window to put some space between the pick-up truck that had hit our house and me.  I also needed to get a better view of the license plate because the truck was backing up and pulling away. 

When dispatch picked up my call, all I could do was repeat the license number of the truck for the first few seconds.  Finally I calmed down enough to explain what had happened. 

The police arrived quickly (we live down the road from the station), and we stood in our yard to survey the damage: a quarter of our fence was obliterated, but luckily the structure of the house itself was intact.  The air conditioner (also obliterated) had been enough to stop the truck, and the bumper had merely scraped the brick on that side of our house.  The only loss we suffered that night was a loss of property.  Property can be replaced.

Still shaken by the crash, we heard the officer received a report that the driver had pulled away and hit another house two blocks down.  Again, the only damages were to property.

The driver was eventually caught when he fell out of the door of the truck on a main road near our neighborhood and nearly ran himself over.  His injuries were treatable and he was released from the hospital by the following afternoon.  Ultimately he, too, only suffered damage to the pick-up truck his brother-in-law had lent him.

The day he was released from the hospital, the driver and his family visited our house to apologize.  His wife returned the day after to offer us more support and give us additional insurance information. 

In all of the madness, this is the moment that will stick with me—the family came over to apologize.  Sure, I am still rattled when I think of the sound.  Sure, I wonder how that apology would have sounded to me if my dogs hadn’t been in the house, but still in the backyard instead.  Sure, I am disappointed that our lives were impacted by a drunk driver.  However, when I count my blessings, I include the driver and his family. 

I am proud to live in a world where people who make mistakes apologize and accept responsibility. 

I am grateful that the driver is alive to make the apology and to respond to this wake-up call the universe has offered him.

I am relieved that the impact on my family can be measured in dollars and not heartache. 

I am filled with hope because even though good people make bad choices, people are still good.


  1. First of all, I'm glad you're okay. Things like this really can rattle us to the core. But as you recognized, property can always be replaced.

    What a wonderful act of humanity for the driver and his wife to come by to apologize and offer to help. That speaks volumes about their characters. What a valuable lesson to share with your students about the ways in which people choose to accept responsibility for their actions.

  2. Yea! It worked Christy. Now I don't have to email my comment to you. :)

  3. What a shock to have a truck hit your house! I am so glad your dogs were in the house and everything damaged can be repaired. You have such a good perspective on this incident. I'm not sure how I would react.

  4. All I could think was "He hit your house and DROVE AWAY?!" When my husband was in high school, a drunk driver crashed through their front door in the middle of the night. Like your situation though, nobody was hurt -- although it was only a few feet from where his sister was asleep in her bed! He still thinks about it when there's a loud noise at night. I like how you focused on the positive at the end! How wonderful that nobody was hurt, and how great that they did apologize.

  5. Thank goodness you are okay. Your pictures - oh my. I too had to reread what you wrote. He apologized? I'm surprised but thankful. It's an example and so glad you shared. Did you share it with your students?

  6. I'm so happy you & your dogs are okay, but this is a shocking slice I don't wish to hear again. I am glad for you that insurance will take care of things (& they are things, thank goodness), but only hope that that driver doesn't believe that an apology is enough. He needs real help, & is lucky no one, including himself, was killed. Unbelievable story!

    Also, Christy, thank you for the comment, but I'm so sorry it's such a tough time at your school right now, & wish you the best in all that you do for your students. I know they must appreciate you very much.

  7. I am thankful that the dogs just came back into the house or this could of been a whole different piece. I think about all the "almosts" in life, I have had many too close of calls. Then I pray for all the people who didn't have an almost and had a tragedy. I am so happy you had an almost and am eternally grateful for my own.

  8. Ruth, so very grateful that you were all ok & so was he! I wrote on a similar subject tonight, about remembering to be compassionate & about humanity. Thank you for sharing this with me, it makes me so grateful to be a part of this wonderful group!

  9. So scary! The pictures tell even more of the story - the splinters of wood, the tracks across the lawn, the obliterated air conditioner! I can't even imagine. And to be quite honest, I'm totally shocked that the man came back to your house to apologize! Maybe I'm cynical, but I never thought your slice would end on an upswing. I am happily surprised that he took responsibility and thankful only property was damaged. A slice of life that caused inconvenience, but a reminder that there is good in the world too, including you and your husband for accepting his apology!

  10. Could not get my comment to publish yesterday...but wanted to say I'm happy that you are all okay and that this driver didn't hurt anyone physically. Maybe now he will get the help he needs. So glad too that they took the time to apologize. It certainly makes a difference in lives when people take responsibility for their actions. Lawyers don't typically want interaction between parties, so even when people would like to apologize, they aren't permitted. It would be even better if his insurance was the one to pay, not yours though. I'm assuming that will be the case?

  11. Oh my, what a scary experience for you! Thank goodness for the air conditioner, for your presence of mind to step back from the window, and for the luck that no one was injured. I hope the driver really gets the wake up call that he should be taking from all of this.

  12. And-thank you again for telling me about your thank you's and the wonderful response you observed. Those thank you's go a very long way in good will, I believe. I appreciate the thought every time I receive a note, or even a word of thanks! Christy you do such great things, so I'm thanking you now!

  13. Goosebumps! Christy, you gave me goosebumps. What a story and the way you crafted it made it a story that not only sticks with the reader, but gives us pause and makes us look at the blessings life offers. I'm glad you (and your dogs) are safe. I'm even more glad you wrote and reflected and ended this slice in the way you did.