The date was December 27, 2010… almost two months ago now. I have tried to write about it before now – many times, actually.
Christina had a rare day off. We had been given some Christmas money to use as a gift for our family to do something together. After a bit of discussion we decided to pay a visit to the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta. It did not disappoint. The highlight was definitely the tasting room with 50+ flavors. I think it was closer to 60, as memory serves. The kids were in heaven, though outdone by their mother, who tasted every single flavor. So you can imagine the sugar buzz that followed such a euphoric experience.
The only thing standing between us and pizza awesomeness was a short walk back to our van followed by a short drive to the pizza place. So the McQueary 5 and Erica’s boyfriend, Bruce, left the Coca-Cola Sugar High Museum and made our way through the streets of Atlanta to find our way back to the parking garage.
Growing up in suburban Chicago, I had taken countless trips to the city and am well-accustomed to the traffic rules for pedestrians and automobiles. We successfully navigated several intersections. Then came THE moment. Even as I type this my hands are shaking.
We were all more than a little hungry. That, and the sugar buzz, probably accounted for some of our carelessness. It seemed the closer we got to the garage, the faster we wanted to get there. Atlanta has several one way streets. A few times we would cross ahead of the crossing signal if we saw that the traffic was stopped and/or no cars were present.
Natalie crossed successfully and the rest of us were on the opposite side of the street deciding if we had enough time to make it before the light turned green and the cars started moving again. Different family members were shouting opposite commands of “hurry” and “wait”. Which command would you have heard when you were in middle school? So hurry he did. As he started to run across the street out of one corner of my eye I could see the light turn green – to my left. Out of the other eye I saw a car coming from less than 100 yds. away at a significant amount of speed. The driver had found a lane that no one else occupied and and was taking advantage of the fact that he would not have to slow down before he reached the light that had now turned green. I began shouting for Tyler to return and raced toward him. Somehow in the instant before he would have been hit, Tyler miraculously just stopped cold in his tracks and found his way back to me and the curb.
I have told the family there was only one time in my life that I was close to that level of fear. I was a middle schooler and almost drowned on a canoe trip. I remember, then, thinking that my life was over and I was going under. This time was different though. This wasn’t me. This was my son. My only living son. I had already lost my first son. And standing in the middle of the street that day I felt completely powerless to save Tyler… and I didn’t. Even though he may have heard my voice, I am confident that there was divine intervention that day.
So many things could have happened that didn’t. One, the driver never saw him. If he had, his natural tendency most certainly would have caused him to swerve to the right where he would have hit Natalie, who was waiting on the edge of the opposite side. The fact that Tyler came back instead of pursuing his predetermined path is amazing in and of itself.
There was very little conversation the rest of the night. We were all emotionally spent. We knew what we had witnessed. Our hearts were grateful. We will always remember what happened that day. A few weeks later we were back in the downtown area for a concert. Tyler and I stayed very close together. Thank you, God, for saving my son!