Last Friday, December 15 was a day I was looking forward to because it was the last day of work before my winter break began. I had a list of tasks to complete. I always have a running list, but these were priorities I needed to resolve to be able to enjoy my break peacefully.
Although this day was a records day and we didn’t have students, I was in academic coaching mode during my first four hours at work. I helped a few teachers work through personal and professional issues and I felt good. Then, I submitted my grades electronically and handed in a hard copy early. Even the registrar was surprised I was one of the first people who turned in my grades. I returned to my room and organized my desk. I didn’t really have anything else to do and could have went home, but I decided to stay at work to tackle a task I had been avoiding.
On the same day IPS informed high school employees we would all have to reapply for our jobs for next school year, I received a letter from my other job IUPUI. I have been an adjunct instructor there for the last five years and I received a letter of recommendation for the Urban PhD program. After receiving the recommendation, I took the GRE again (my previous scores were too old), obtained reference letters, and spoke to two of my mentors at IUPUI and the lady who oversees the program. I had completed most of the application, but had not turned it in. Knowing my husband had the day off (and would probably distract me), I decided to stay at work to finish and submit the application. Friday was the last day to submit it and I decided to finally submit it and let whatever will be, will be.
Then, I checked and responded to any remaining school emails and sent my coaching notes to my principal before leaving the campus of Crispus Attucks. Although, I really wanted to go home, I decided to get one more task cleared off of my list. Last Wednesday, I attended a meeting concerning Washington Irving School 14 and I did a write-up for Indy/Ed, but I didn’t have a picture yet. I knew it wouldn’t take that long to drive from my school to Washington Irving and then drive home. I snapped several photos and joyfully hopped into my car. The only thing standing between me and winter break was the car ride home. Then, my plans came to an abrupt stop.
Most people know I always drive on the streets and rarely drive on the highway even if it saves time as my husband constantly points out. I was cruising up College Ave, a one way street and was about to come up to 32nd Street. I was happy about that because I needed to get to 38th street which was going to take me home. As I was continuing up College Ave and was approaching 32nd Street, I saw a car bolting across 32nd and there was no where for me to go. I couldn’t stop because a car was right behind me and I couldn’t speed up because a car was right in front of me. I had one option which was to turn my wheel to the right and hope the car that was fast approaching would not slam into my driver’s side. I ended up on the sidewalk next to Antioch church which is at the corner of 32nd and College. The lady driving behind me pulled over to check on me and two people ran out of the church. One guy went to the other driver to make sure he was going to stay and the other guy talked to me. Although I was glad to be alive, I was so mad when I saw the damage to my 2005 Buick Century. She’s an old car, but has been faithful and reliable. I had this car for nine years and paid it off six years ago. As long as things went according to plan, by the end of this school year, my husband and I would have no debt but the mortgage on our house. All I could see was how this goal was going to be shattered; I didn’t want another car and a car payment. The guy who checked on me noticed that I was clearly frustrated about my car. Then, he said this to me:
You know why I”m at this church right now? I’m here because my son’s funeral is tomorrow. He was killed in a car accident. Your car – this hunk of metal can be replaced, but you cannot. Your life is not replaceable; your car is.
I felt so foolish worrying about my debt free goal that I couldn’t focus on the bigger picture. Later, the police came to take the report, AAA came to tow my car and my dad came to supervise what was going on (and me) and then my dad drove me home. My husband took me to urgent care to make sure I didn’t have any damage in my swollen and bruised up knee. I don’t, but I have been in bed resting and relaxing and reflecting over this event.
I thought about an assignment I gave a group of boys I met almost a decade ago during this summer program. They were making poor life choices, so I had them write their obituaries. I know that sounds morbid, but the path they were on, death would be their reality. After, they finished writing, I asked, “Are you satisfied with your life thus far?” This tough crew of black boys who had many obstacles in life softened up and each one told me no. We made goals and actions steps to change their course for the future. I thought about that assignment and the question I asked. I also thought about the words my pastor says almost every Sunday, “Just because you made it to the house of the Lord today, doesn’t mean you will make it back the next Sunday.” If I didn’t make it, would I be satisfied with all I have done thus far?
Instead of worrying about a car payment or a goal that could be adjusted, I need to make sure I’m living a life of purpose and that my life is adding value to other people’s lives. Overall, I have had a good year, but there are some areas I have fallen short in and this accident reminded me that there might not be a tomorrow to get it right, a tomorrow to be a better Christian, wife, mother, daughter, educator or friend. As 2017 comes to close, I encourage you to reflect upon your life, set a few goals, but remember to cherish what is important to you and don’t lose sight of the big picture because you are so focused on all the little details being checked off at a certain time.