Two Incredible Things

Until Thursday morning, I hadn’t been in a five-car accident.

And two incredible things happened on that skinny highway in Durham, North Carolina.

The first: No one - not a one out of all seven of us - was hurt. No blood, no bruises, seatbelt chafing. Nothing.

Three of the cars will never drive again. The highway patrol officer had to pretzel himself around to find the license plate of one SUV. Both airbags shot out in another. Iron and steel crumpled like gum wrappers, flesh and bone safe and sound.

The second incredible thing: the speed at which everyone shot out of their cars to see if everyone else was okay.

If you could have lowered the volume on the traffic, the only thing you would have heard was:

“Are you alright?” “Yes! Are you?” “Yeah!” “Is she okay?” “Yes!” “How about the guy up front?” “He’s good.”

I have never felt so cared for and so caring towards six folks who I - when I woke up that morning - had no idea existed.

The fire truck came, the police came. Glove compartments opened, insurance companies were called. And we continued to check-in with each other. Learned names, where folks had been headed - the office, the airport, back home. Lovely to meet you! we said. Wish it hadn’t been under these circumstances.

Later, there would be the mess of claims and rental cars, trying to reconfigure life without the ease of a vehicle.

But if you happened to have been driving on NC-147 Thursday morning, you might have wondered why seven people were smiling, even chuckling next to their busted cars.

And it would have been that we were relieved to be okay. But also that part of our very okay-ness was because we had been caught up in a love story of strangers so suddenly smashing into each other and so suddenly, caring so much for each other.

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Increasing JoyCaitie Whelan