“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18
As I pulled back onto the interstate, I noticed a heavy fog. A fog that seemed to have gained density in the short time I was filling up my tank. A fog that eerily blanketed the road’s surface and swirled up from the grassy median like a thick stew. It was foreboding, but I was re-energized–and ready to make my way home. It was 1:30 in the morning and, as far as I could see, I was the only car on the road. I turned my stereo on and began to pick up speed, watching the small yellow road lines dash past my front tire at a faster and faster pace. I pressed the accelerator until my Jeep’s speedometer read 80 mph, and cruised into the darkness towards home.
The next portion of my story is pulled only from what I can remember. If there are gaps missing and portions that seem vague, you will understand why as you read.
With my SUV speeding down the interstate at 80, I found that my mind was falling under a bit of a spell–fatigued and mesmerized by the reflecting lights zipping past my car like fireflies. I was traveling down the left lane, and watching the road ahead of me, when all of a sudden I saw a mass spring out from the right side of the road. As my headlights sprayed light onto the figure, I caught sight of two beady eyes, mirroring my shock and fear. A deer stood paralyzed before me, stationary in its perilous tracks.
Out of pure reaction, I swerved left and found myself bumping and pounding through the knotted, grassy center median. With my tires twisting and jerking through the rugged terrain, it was all I could do to keep my hands on the wheel and keep control of the car. I knew that I had to get back on the road, but the power and force of the jerking wheel proved to be a challenge to control.
I squeezed tight to the damp leather and pulled, as hard as I could, to steer the tires back towards the right. I pulled so hard, it caused my upper body to turn towards my passenger seat in the struggle. And when I did that, time suddenly stood very still…
In the passenger seat of my car sat a very familiar man. A man whose smile I had missed for so long. A man whose eyes were so soft and gentle, that I swore they could see through to my heart. In the passenger seat sat my daddy.
His appearance was warm and relaxing. His eyes hung heavy, but bright. His skin took on the bronzed glow I had remembered so fondly. And strung across his face was a simple, subtle smile. A grin that curled the edges of his lips and showed a hint of that magnificent dimple. A smile that served to say, “Relax. Breath. Know that I am here. Know that I am holding you.”
I don’t know why I saw my daddy that night. I don’t know why he appeared in that moment. But I do know he was real. He was tremendous. I swear I could have reached out and touched him. I could smell his sweet cologne. I could feel his arms wrapped tight around me. I could see that assuring smile. And as quickly as he had appeared, he was gone again…
When time snapped back, I was speeding back up towards the road. The next thing I knew, my tires were slicing back across the fogged pavement and charging straight towards the right, wooded embankment. In an attempt to regain control, I tried to pull my wheel back towards the left, but it was then that I hit the deep divot.
They say that drunk drivers often survive the crashes they are in because their bodies are so relaxed that they flow with the movement of the car. (Well, I most definitely was NOT drunk, but) I realize now one purpose of my father’s appearance. He had relaxed me. His smile had assured me and his essence had put my muscles at ease. In such a terrifying, gut-wrenching moment, I found that rather than tensing with fear and adrenaline, I lost control of my muscles and tendons. My arms fell limp and my body gave way to the force that was overwhelming my car.
The next thing I remember was the realization that equilibrium was off. The realization that I no longer had control. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in, and then, was overwhelmed by sound. Crashing! Tearing! Shattering! Twisting! Pounding! Cranking! Wrenching! Reeling! Cracking! Then, a final SLAM! And everything went black…
(to be continued)