Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Near-Miss

The near-miss. 

It is the theme of my life.  I should have met my husband a hundred times before I was 27 years old.  We knew many of the same people.  We went to the same college.  I once celebrated St. Patrick's Day at his house  ten minutes after he departed for another bash.

In many ways, Joe could have easily been another near-miss.  The Fates must have been ready to pull their hair out by the time they successfully got us together in the same hotel lobby (me as an event planner and Joe as a union decorator) two days after a late-night, beer-infused first encounter at the legendary Old St. Pat's block party.

Danny, aged 5, waiting for his daddy to come home from firehouse.
That night, Joe offered me a free bratwurst.  I convinced myself that this guy was obviously not "the one."  The love of my life would be a sushi sophisticate, perhaps a North Shore grad, and surely not some sausage-hawking southsider.

Then we spotted each other in that lobby.  It was pure coincidence.  And the most important near-miss of my life to date was averted.

I have had near-misses involving national tragedies, sorted scandals, and plain old stupid decisions that would have resulted in great unhappiness.

I do not know if I have an angel on my shoulder or if I am just plain lucky.

That is a lie.

I totally have an angel on my shoulder.  I call her Barb.  For some reason, Barb has been steering me away from misfortunate my entire life.

Not that I haven't experienced misfortune.

But Barb has a great track record.  I don't think she sleeps much.

Last night, I was driving home with all three of my sons in the minivan.  We had done some last-minute shopping.  Danny needed a Christmas outfit (I had to battle with him to see that track pants and a hoodie weren't appropriate clothes to mark the Savior's birth).  It was also a ploy so I could give my husband time to assemble the large metal wagon the kids were getting for Christmas to support their new recycling business. 

It was rainy and dark.  The roads were packed.  I came to a stop at a light that already had a line going back countless cars.  A few seconds later, some sort of noise (I am not sure if it was honking or the screech of brakes) drew my attention.  A car came barreling along and drove onto the sidewalk next to me.  The driver then smashed full-on into a streetlight.

That was when time stood still.  Shocked, I watched as the streetlight began to topple.  Jammed into my spot by traffic, I had nowhere to go to get out of its way.  I anticipated the trajectory, and realized with horror it was about to smash into the passenger side of my minivan, closest to Dan.

I didn't have any time to pull my son away or even formulate a plan before the post landed harmlessly next to us, with maybe two inches to spare.

Shakily, I was able to turn off the main street and call 911 for help.  I then walked back over to the other driver to see if she was okay.  My kids were following me, freaking the hell out, and begging to go back to the safety of the minivan on the side street as cars whizzed by.  They wouldn't go back without me, though.  And I needed to stay with the young driver until police arrived. 

It was the most important near-miss I have every experienced. 

And once again, I know I have the best guardian angel ever. 

I also realize that if Barb has moved on and now sits on Dan's shoulder, I have much to celebrate.  She has been a great protector and she knows where my heart lies.

Danny.  Jack.  Joe.

And that sausage guy that started it all.

I would like to wish every reader out there much love, happiness, and protection for the year ahead.  As for me, I will continue to be humbled at the great many gifts I have been given.

But for a simple turn of fate, how much I would truly miss.

Bless you, Barb.


  1. It's amazing, isn't it? As moms and wives, we have to be brought to our knees on occasion to realize how grateful we are for what we mostly consider to be mundane, pedantic lives. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Marianne!

  2. Wow. That was close. Thank God you and the boys are unharmed. Oh. And Barb, too. Especially Barb. She's got quite a job on her hands. :)

  3. I have goosebumps. Give Barb a hug for me. And Danny and Jack and Joey. And the sausage guy.

  4. Holy cats! You are definitely blessed. In so many ways. So glad Barb was on duty yet again!

  5. You never fail to amaze me with your poignant writing. Merry Christmas. I miss you! :)

  6. Not sure who you wrote to for Barb to be sent, but sure am grateful. Hugs all around!

    That Barb sure does have a full time job but she is really thankful she isn't on my shoulder.
    I need to name mine now.......

  8. Speechless. Me? I know, right? Wow....