About a month ago I had a car accident. Another driver called Anwar Kamal S. sped through the GIVE WAY sign at a roundabout and hit my Mazda 2 sideways. Luckily, I was not hurt. The car was written off, though. The accident temporarily revived some fleeting memories of feeling (seeing) my own body pushed, pulled and dragged by a force way beyond my control more than four years ago, in very different circumstances.
Over the next few days many different thoughts crossed my mind. I thought about Jason Carney and his best friend Alina, both of whom lost their lives after being broadsided by a drunk driver twelve years ago. I never knew Jason or Alina, but I feel sorry for them, for their senseless, absurd deaths, for the unbearable pain their parents were inflicted. I also thought the same could have happened to me – except it was at a roundabout (you have slow down even if just a little!) and in my case the driver (I firmly believe) was not drunk. Muslims (the vast majority of them at least) do not drink.
As days went by, I also thought about how the little car had been an integral part of our lives, Clea’s life included. Not that I feel any special attachment for the car itself, but rather for those indelible memories I cherish more and more as I get older.
The Mazda was the car in which Clea and I drove together to Sydney Airport one unforgettable night in September 2008. It was also the car where Clea and I shared those morning conversations every parent loves to have on the way to school. I reminisced about her first year of schooling, when her brothers went with their mother to a Childcare Centre in a different part of town, while Clea would jump in the car with her school bag, so full of vitality, so keen to learn.
It was the car whose engine I often had to turn on five minutes before leaving because the frost would make it impossible to drive off to school straightaway. I thought about Clea’s reply whenever I locked the home door and said ‘¡Andando!’ (literally, ‘walking’, but it’s one very idiomatic way of saying ‘Let’s get going!’). Although she already knew what it meant, Clea invariably said: ‘Andando no, ¡en coche!’
I have also been thinking that, regrettably, somewhere, there will be parents who will return home after the summer holidays without their child. Nothing can prepare us for the loss of our child. It is utterly unthinkable to consider that our child may predecease us. Nothing can bring them back. All we can do is to face up bravely to a new day every day. And that does feel too much sometimes.