Today, I'm being thankful for small decisions that turn into big miracles.
It was about 7 pm. Cyndi and I were on the end cusp of a good shopping trip in downtown Dallas. As we were leaving the store, we decided we were thirsty and needed to get a drink before we headed home, but we didn't want to stop at a restaurant. There was a gas station just down the block and we talked about just stopping there but for no identifiable reason we didn't and kept going until a block later we hit a KFC. We pulled in, got water, left; nothing fancy, no fuss. The detour cost us about five minutes.
Fast forward about fifteen minutes in time. We're on the highway. There's not a lot of traffic so we're listening to music and chatting, just kind of enjoying each other's company. Suddenly, about three hundred feet from the fork between the highway we're on and the highway we're about to merge on to, traffic just appears, almost as if everyone has stopped their cars at the same time, kind of the same way people walking pause briefly when they hear something shocking. Then cars start pulling into the left two lanes, a few are crossing over the double white lines to switch highways, and Cyndi and I are confused -- this is like a three lane split-off that has had about ten signs announcing it for the past five miles, people cannot possibly be confused. But, at least the line of cars in still moving, albeit slowly.
Silently, we both start speculating about why there's traffic (or at least I did). It's not that traffic is uncommon in the DFW area, it's just that we're not on a one lane road nor is it rush hour, so it seems out of place. Cyndi is the first to suggest that maybe there was an accident, but I discredit it because there were no lights or sirens or anything. Just then, we see a man in scrubs jump out of his car and run up ahead us and almost simultaneously, I hear sirens approaching us from the back of the line of cars. I scramble to pull as far into the lane to my left as I can as a cop comes barelling around my car, screeches to a halt about fifty feet in front of us, and jumps out, following the direction the man in scrubs disappeared to. Now Cyndi and I are fairly certain that it's an accident but we (or, just me, maybe) aren't worried because there's no ambulance.
That changed quickly.
An SUV in front of us shifts off to the left a little and we get a view of the carnage in front of us. Yes, carnage. That's the only word that can really describe what had happened. I don't know how it happened, but another SUV has somehow flipped over -- judging by the damage to the car, it hit another person or rolled a few times. The car is smoking and a strange liquid is trickling out of it from near the shattered driver's side window. Good Samaritans standing by have pulled someone out of the car and are standing around him/her and the doctor as others work on pulling more passengers out of the wrecked vehicle. The cop and another bytander are waving the cars through, presumably trying to get us moving so that the ambulance (which we could hear approaching) could get to the victims. As we drive through, I realize what the strange liquid trickling out of the driver's side of the car is -- blood. A very large, very real puddle of blood. I'm forced to drive through it on my way between the two men waving us through and as I drive by the upside SUV I can hear that it's engine is still cooling down, meaning it had stopped moving sometime in the past five minutes. As my eyes pass over the whole scene once more, the image is seared in my memory.
After a second of driving on open highway, Cyndi and I look at each other. And it hits me -- that very easily could have been us. We arrived before the cop and the ambulance, who have an average arrival time of five minutes. Five minutes. Those five minutes when we were going to KFC instead of the gas station for no reason? Yeah, those five minutes potentially saved our lives. If we had gone into that gas station and gotten on the road five minutes earlier, we could have been in the way of that SUV when it flipped. We could be laying in a hospital somewhere right now, if not a morgue.
Days like today remind me that there is absolutely no such thing as a coincidence -- everything happens for a reason. We may not always see it, but today we did. The only reason Cyndi and I got home safely was because God kept us from going to that gas station and getting on the road any sooner. Without that small miracle, I'm not sure I'd be here to hope that the passengers of that car received treatment quickly and are somewhere safe, recovering from their ordeal.