Driving home last week I was struck by how disgustingly lucky I am.  I was thinking of all the many things I have to be grateful for.  To top it all off, the weather was gorgeous, the kids were behaving and I was on Top of Things.

Everything was perfect.

That's when I heard it.


Someone's been in an accident!

I was glad it wasn't me.  Until I noticed my car tilting, ever so slightly, to the right.  That's when the seconds turned to minutes.  But what happened didn't register until I saw the light reflected in the shards of glass raining around my car like bubbles.  I felt like I was drowning.

Gratitude, my ass.

I looked behind me and saw a silver car in the parking lane, its door flapping back and forth into the street, and the driver jumping up and down in her seat, her face frozen in terror. 


I saw my boys, strapped in their car seats, searching my face for answers.  Thankfully, they were fine.

Thank God.

I pulled over, got out of the car, opened the back door to get a better look at the boys.  I didn't notice how the door had buckled into itself, the gash.  People ran over, offering their cell phones, offering to hold my babies.

I was in shock. 

They're fine.  Thank you.

The other driver rushed over.


That's when I noticed the damage.  That's when I saw the huge dent over my right front tire.  That's when I saw that the wheel had a 4-inch gash on it's side.  That's when I saw the crushed metal, the peeling paint - our brand-new family car's side crumpled like a piece of paper.

"Yes, yes, I'm fine.  Move your car to the parking lot, get yourself out of traffic."

I did that. 

She went back to her car.  A man in a business suit came over, cell phone in hand and called the police.  He offered to change my tire, but I refused.  A limo driver on break brought me water bottles and sat with me to keep me company until my husband could get there.  A nanny out with her charges offered to play with my son.

Thank you.  Thank you.

I asked the limo driver if he saw anything.  I still didn't know what had happened.

"I heard the accident, but I didn't see it.  But she definitely moved her car closer while you were distracted to make it look like she was further into the parking lane.

Thank you.

Police lights, a few questions.  My husbands arrives.  I try to cry, but no tears come out.

"What happened?"

I don't know.  I don't know.

We eventually figure it out.  She opened her car door into the side of my car.  My front bumper is dent-free.  She wasn't looking, was distracted, parked too far from the curb, and opened her car door into a car.

Into our car. 

Had she opened her door a second before she did, I might have seen her and been able to stop.  But she opened the door as I was driving past her, after she was in my line of sight.

There was nothing I could have done to avoid it. 

It's not your fault, my husband said. It's not your fault, said the insurance company.  I try to tell myself, It's not your fault.

Still, my head is filled with doubt.  What if I had taken another route?  What if I had a left a few minutes later?

What if?