Last Tuesday started innocuously enough. We decorated cupcakes before breakfast, which inevitably lead to the cupcakes becoming breakfast as sneaky bites were taken and chocolate evidence was smeared around lips…. We were going to meet Aunty Catherine and cousin Zach. There was much excitement afoot.
At around 10 o’clock, kids, picnic and cupcakes were piled into the car and we set off to Bradgate Park. I wasn’t in a rush as I had left early. I drove to the end of our road and stopped. I looked left – no cars, looked right – no cars, started to edge forward cautiously (more so than usual for some reason) and nearly had a head on collision, which may well have killed me.
As I edged forward, looking left again, a car flew up the hill on the wrong side of the road – it must have been doing over 50mph as it blurred past me. Had I not been driving a huge 7 seater with a tiny 1.6 engine I may have been tempted to give chase and give a piece of my mind. But instead I edged forward again and reflected: ‘Wow, I‘m still alive!’
This isn’t the first time I have felt near to death. I fell meters down a cliff in Wales when I was much younger – thankfully my feet found a small ledge just before a big drop. That’s the only time my life has literally flashed before me in weird fragmented scenes. I can’t remember how I felt after that but it was probably similar.
My husband actively seeks out cliff edges and enjoys hanging by his finger tips to rock faces, trusting a length of rope and a small metal pin in the crevice to keep him from falling. He says it focuses his mind, gets rid of all the crap that can fill it, and helps him live in the moment. I believe him.
Driving on, (with much caution!), I felt a sudden wonder at being here at all which instantly diffused the daily grinding exhaustion I sometimes feel. I had an acute awareness that life hangs by a thread and that the moments are important and precious.
As I finally get around to posting this blog piece, Smiling Flower is on the sofa with a dreadful chest infection, the GP is hawkishly watching her and may admit her to hospital tonight, the car is broken (again) and it feels all too easy to let the daily tiredness and worry of kids completely cloud my mind and rob the present moments (like my little boy’s cuddle) of their magic.
Much as I had a few choice words for the idiot who drives too fast, I hope that, one week on, the wonder of being alive, the gift of existing, keeps me grateful. Maybe, even today (which to be frank, has so far felt rubbish) I can adopt A. A. Milne’s philosophy and it can become a ‘favourite’ day, simply because I’m in it…