By Sean Dietrich
I’m watching a sunrise through tall Southern pines. It’s making its heavenly climb, and I’m looking right at it, sitting on the hood of my truck.
Last night, I was almost killed. I’m not joking. I was nearly hit head-on by a red truck that was driving in the wrong lane.
It was dark. I was the only one on the road. I saw headlights speeding toward me. And I mean speeding.
I expected the vehicle would get out of my way. It didn’t. I almost swerved for the ditch.
I closed my eyes. I expected a loud sound, followed by pain, maybe the voice of Charlton Heston.
What I heard was a vehicle scream by fast enough to suck the rust off my hitch.
I pulled over. My heart beat hard enough to crack my sternum. And I cried.
It’s funny, what you think about in your final moments.
I thought about the old woman from my childhood church. She was white-haired, and balding. She claimed that on the night my father died, she had a vision. She said she saw him laughing in heaven.
For years, I was not happy about her unsolicited remarks. I don’t know why.
I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m glad she told me.
During my brief encounter, I also wondered if I’d wake up to abalone gates. Would I see Granny? My uncles, my aunts? My father?
Or: would I wake up as a baby squirrel, high up in a longleaf pine. A mockingbird, tweeting in a nest, maybe? Or a newborn hound, in someone’s barn? Or a hungry raccoon, nosing through garbage for some fresh loaded diapers?
I thought about my wife.
When we first married, I once told her I didn’t want her to remarry if I died. I joked, saying I wanted her to grieve me as a lonely widow. We’d laugh about that.
But last night, I was sorry I ever joked like that. My best friend deserves to be happy, whether I’m breathing or not. When the speeding truck was only inches from my bumper, I said a prayer.
The prayer only lasted a nanosecond, but it was a prayer nonetheless. I prayed for her happiness.
I’m lucky. My God. I am lucky.
I’m lucky to be writing this. I’m lucky to be right here. Right now.
Certainly, I have known bad days, I have known heartache, and I have known sadness—so have you.
But I’ve also known love. Real love. The granite-busting kind. And it never came from where I thought it would. It came from strangers. People of no blood relation.
I have had good moments in this life. I’ve walked the woods during spring, with a dog and a woman beside me. I’ve floated the Suwannee in a canoe with my wife on her birthday.
I’ve seen my widowed mother learn to love again. I’ve held my redheaded niece and heard her say my name.
I have watched more sunrises than I can count. I never get tired of such glorious, but brief moments. I hope you get to see one today. A good one.
I really do.
We don’t get nearly enough of them.