Legacy: Part 2: "Palpitations"

There are moments in my life from time to time where I remember that I’m alive. Do you ever forget? I do. I don’t mean “alive” as in breathing, I mean “alive” as in living. To me, there’s a huge difference between those two things. And just this past Friday, I was reminded of that in the most peculiar and slightly jarring way.

I saw something that I have never seen before and quite likely will never see again. And I suppose that I could have possible been quite injured or perhaps even killed. Faced with death, we seem to remember that we’re alive; and alive for a purpose.

I suppose that at some point in the future we’ll have the ability to upload from our mind to the internet something that we saw or experienced, so that everyone can see exactly what our eyes saw. The “helmet-cam” is as close as we’ve come so far. And I wish that on Friday I had a video camera mounted on the dashboard of the car I was driving so that you could see what I saw. You’ll just have to imagine.

I was driving my sister’s car (with her in the passenger’s seat) on I-95 Northbound. We had just gotten on 95 after meeting with my Mom at Roanoke Rapids, NC for an early lunch. There were no cars immediately around us and my speed was probably 75 mph or thereabout. There was a car-carrying 18 wheeler in front of us, one lane over, probably within 100 yards of us. Think a little less than a football field’s length and that’s about the distance from it to us. We were barreling along chatting when I looked at that truck and watched 2 of those truck’s tires (one on either side) pop off simultaneously. Let me rephrase that for clarity: 2 huge truck tires separate themselves from the truck on opposite sides of the truck. So now there are 2 truck tires, fully inflated, rolling for a split second NEXT to the truck but not ATTACHED to the truck. Again, we’re between 75-80 mph at this point. In shock, my initial instinct was to let off the accelerator and watch where the 2 tires were going. And I’m glad I did. The tire on the right slowly veered off to the right and into the ditch on the right side of the interstate. No harm. But the tire on the left, still rolling along down the interstate began to veer to the left and hit the metal guardrail separating the two sides of the interstate. When it did, it shot skyward and landed on the other side of the interstate, the Southbound side. There was another 18-wheeler barreling south and the tire hit the road just underneath the carriage of that truck (I mean the in the largest space between the front and rear wheels of the trailer. When it did, it flipped the loose tire like you would flip a coin and it bounced back into the sky, heading back to our side of the interstate.

Oh no. Few things are as unpredictable as a huge bouncing truck tire on the interstate.

I had reduced my speed just a bit, but honestly not too much because I didn’t want to be a “sitting duck” for the truck tire. Not to mention that you should keep in mind that from beginning to end, this entire event was probably within the span of 10 seconds.

Well, the tire landed again on our side of the interstate and bounced again, heading right toward us. There were still no other cars around us, so it was a showdown between us and the tire. With a presence of mind that I still find amazing, I waited (relatively speaking) until such a moment when I could better discern where the tire was going. Since it was in fact coming right at us, I swerved off the road at the last moment and then back on, leaving the tire safely behind us.

Has something ever happened to you, that made your heart skip a beat? I think its called palpitations. I’m pretty sure that in the moment of the swerving, I skipped a heartbeat.

I immediately called my wife to tell her that I love her. And I do. When we’re faced with uncertainly of life, we’re reminded that we’re alive. And not just breathing, but living.

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