There is a magic to coincidence that I just love. Whether you believe a coincidence is a sign of karmic fate, or just a random twirl of momentum from somewhere in the universe, it doesn’t change the fact that there is something awe inspiring about the way different life events can coincide (or collide).
I’m not actually sure what I believe about the deeper meaning of coincidence. They’re incomprehensible nature is part of their delicious thrill, they feel like a reminder to me that life is going to happen in its own way and time and I can either go with the flow, or get pummeled by the waves.
The thing about life’s waves is that they are sometimes awfully hard to see coming, (especially if you’re already standing waist deep in the water). Other people can sometimes see the waves coming, sometimes it’s easier to notice friends cringing and hiding their faces than it is to actually see the water before it is upon you.
The mend-bending thing about a coincidence, is that no one sees it coming. It is just a little piece of cosmic surprise thrown into daily life, just to remind you that you are not in control (in case there was any doubt).
We had one such reminder the weekend before last. It was Avery’s birthday weekend and we had been at one of those indoor playgrounds watching the kids bounce, jump and climb for several hours. The kids were exhausted and starving, so we planned to pick up pizza on the way home.
The small side street by the pizza place was unexpectedly busy as we tried to find parking.
“My throat feels like something is going to come out.” Avery sputtered suddenly, interrupting our conversation about whether we could fit into a parking space.
“Are you feeling sick?” I asked, glancing around the van trying to figure out what I could give him if he was going to throw up. My wife in the meantime had pulled off to the left side of the street to let traffic pass, so she could turn around and try to fit the van into a parking spot.
“No, not sick.” Avery said trying to clear his throat again. “It is like something needs to come out.”
“Does it feel like your asthma?” I asked and then I covered my ears and screamed as my wife turned sharply to the right, and the car that had been behind us crashed into my door.
The world was strangely still and quiet for a moment.
“Everyone alright?” I asked turning to look back at the kids who looked back at me blankly as though they could not believe that we had just been in an accident.
“I need to get this out of my throat.” Avery said as my wife pulled over and got out of the van to talk to the other driver who was walking towards her.
“Let’s try your puffer.” I said to Avery as I rummaged to find his backpack, wondering if his puffer was what he needed. He never had sudden asthma attacks, usually his breathing just got gradually worse if he was going to need a puffer. “Everyone else ok?” I asked again.
The other kids mumbled what seemed like affirmative answers.
“I need a pen.” My wife said opening the door again. “The other driver is deaf.”
“Avery needs his puffer,” I said, getting it ready, “I can’t look right now.”
“I can’t breathe enough.” Avery said, reaching out towards me a look of panic on his face, as
I brought the puffer up to his waiting mouth.
“I don’t know what to do.” My wife said, frantically shifting things around in the van, trying to find a pen that was not there.
I shook my head, counting out Avery’s breaths as she went back out onto the sidewalk.
“Better?” I asked Avery.
“I think so,” he answered and then smiled as he took a whole breath. “Yes, my throat is ok now.”
“I can’t believe we were in a car accident.” Riley said in a hushed voice. “I never thought I’d be in a real accident.”
“Well,” I said, looking out onto the street to where someone was hugging the driver of the other car. “We’re all lucky that this wasn’t a serious accident.”
As I watched, the new woman who had arrived, started to sign and translate for my wife.
“What are they doing now?” one of the kids asked (I can’t remember which one).
I watched for a moment before answering. “The driver of the other car is deaf, so she talks with sign language and it looks like someone just showed up who is helping Leah understand what she is saying.”
A car passing, right after our accident just happened to be carrying a woman who is a sign language interpreter. Her husband had noticed that the other driver was signing and pulled over so that she could help. The driver and translator just happened to be friends who had not seen each other in awhile. The other driver also happened to live two blocks from us (which is not particularly close to where the accident occurred.
It was a strange and intense 15 minutes. Everyone was fine (my neck is just a little sore), and the kids were excited to be able to tell their friends that they’d been in a car accident. Us adults were less excited to spread the word about the accident, but more befuddled by the serendipitous timing of the interpreter arriving at the crash.
Just life’s little way of reminding us that we never know what will happen next. I guess there’s nothing else to do but buckle up and try to enjoy the ride.