This afternoon, as I was trekking my way back to my car, I almost got run over. Apparently, the driver didn’t realize he had to make a full stop at a stop sign at an intersection of a university where there are people crossing pretty much during all hours of the day.
Sure, it was raining and the roads were slick. Maybe I should have waited, even though I had the right of way. But having the right of way does not matter. I keep thinking of that poor girl who was killed by a school bus a few months ago — she had the right of way, too. It’s almost like you have to assume that every driver on the road is distracted when you are a pedestrian.
I saw the car from the corner of my eye moving toward me. Immediately, I thought the dude was deliberately speeding because he saw me. When people are less than nice to me, I always automatically assume it’s because of the hijab. I later realized, he was just a distracted little student (I was wearing my parka hood – there’s no way he would have known I am Muslim).
My first reaction was to try to stop the car with my hands, I kid you not. Alhamdulillah, the kid was doing a rolling stop and saw me in time to come to a complete break right before he would have hit me.
I saw the look on his face – I think he was surprised, too. But no sorry. He just drove off. I was angry. You couldn’t even say sorry? But what was I going to do? Go all Britney on him and take out my useless umbrella and smash his windows? The thought did occur for a second. But, I was reminded of the sunnah, so I did not. I felt like my heart leaped up to my throat. I think it took the entire 30 minute drive back home for me to recover from what just happened and what could have happened.
I found out this morning that an aunt (a widow of my dad’s cousin) had passed away from cancer. I wasn’t close to her. But I kept thinking about the fact that her one son didn’t visit her before she passed. I can’t go into the reasons why, as I don’t really know. But can you imagine losing your husband in a tragic car accident when your only son was still a little boy and then to die almost 45 years later and not have that son be with you during your final days on this earth?
Death is always around us. But all of this happening today? Is God trying to tell me something?
I drive by the Crown Hill Cemetery every day to and from work; and just this week I noticed a little bench outside the grounds that has the following inscription: “Embrace mortality.” Now, I don’t know if this was something the cemetery did, as it’s outside the fencing, or something a resident painted on. But either way, the point is clear. As soon as we are born, there is only one thing in this life that we are guaranteed: death (I know the saying is “death and taxes,” but we all know that not everyone pays their taxes. Only us peons who can’t afford trickster accountants and don’t have offshore accounts).
I won’t say that I almost died today. I could have gotten seriously hurt… But I’m fine. Sh. Hamza Yusuf once said that we should think about death constantly. Not yearning for it, but knowing that it will happen and it serving as a reminder to be moral people in all situations.
I can’t say that I think about my own personal death everyday. There are still so many things I would like to do – have children one day, cook a meal that I want to eat, grow old with Mr. Rafia, etc.
But none of that is a guarantee. Especially that “cooking a good meal” bit.
In all seriousness though, we like to think we know how things are going to turn out in our lives. And we have all the ambitions to make them a reality! But we are proven wrong every single day. Being reminded of death today makes me appreciate the little moments I take for granted.
All of it is a gift unearned.