Dan was pretty much on autopilot. He didn’t think about it. In fact he really wasn’t thinking about anything, he was just letting the day wash over him. And what a day it’d been. He saw but didn’t really see the cars around him as he maneuvered down the road. Everyone was going fast on the busy two lane road and he was aware but wasn’t aware of the wall of metal flying by him at a relative speed of over 100 MPH. The glare in the road didn’t even register.
Dan felt the sickening pull as the car lunged to the side after hitting the black ice. He panicked to get the car back under control but had that helpless, I’m-in-a-dream feeling as it slid sidewards. He could see the truck barreling down on him. Time crawled almost to a stop. The front of the truck slowly worked its way through the passenger side of the car, the shards of shattered glass seemed to hang in the air in complete violation of the laws of gravity.
“Hey Dan, did you see that your father left you his 15 year pin to wear for school pictures today?”
Was that pretty young lady Mom? Where was he? Trying to shake the image of shattering glass out of his head Dan looked down at the object in his hand. It was the tie pin his dad’s company had given him for 15 years of service. Most companies don’t give mementos for years of service any more. He continued to look. These weren’t his hands, they were the hands of a young child.
The phone started to ring. It was an old rotary phone. Mom picked it up and her face dropped.
Dan suddenly remembered the day. The date jumped out at him. They said his father had died instantly on impact. He remembered what he’d said at the funeral as he fingered the pin in his tie. “The last thing Dad did was give me his pin. I’ll cherish it and wear it every day for the rest of my life. It’s my connection.”
He had worn the pin to his high school graduation and later to college graduation. It had been on the lapel of his tux when he was married. He wore it the first day of work.
That was 15 years ago.
Where was the pin now? It’d been ages since he’d seen it.
Wait, he’d put it in a box of stuff from school. Didn’t they get rid of that box when they moved seven years ago? No, actually he remembered seeing the box in the attic when he took down the Christmas decorations three days ago.
Dan opened his eyes. It took a moment for his dazed mind to realize what he was seeing. The deflated airbag was draped across his lap. The passenger seat was jammed against him and into the back seating area.
Dan painfully turned his head as he heard a loud scraping noise. Someone was opening his door.
“Hey, he’s still alive and conscious,” the man yelled over his shoulder. He then turned to Dan and said, “It’s OK, buddy, the ambulance is on the way. Just stay with me until they get here, OK?”
“Wha…,” Dan tried to speak but found it difficult.
“Take it easy,” the man said. “Don’t try too hard. I won’t lie, it looked awful, but it could have been much worse. The truck spun you around like a top. You went across the road, hit the guardrail and spun back through two lanes of traffic yet missed everyone before coming to rest here. It could’ve been much worse. Just take it easy.”
“Thank you,” Dan managed to say to the man. “Thank you,” he said again, as he closed his eyes. This second thank you wasn’t aimed at the man but at image in his mind. It had been 30 years to the day. He would find the box, he would find the pin. He’d wear it every day. “I promise, father, I’ll do it,” he said. He could hear the man outside of the car say something about praying. He could hear the siren getting closer. It would be alright. His children wouldn’t lose their father, at least not yet.