Monday, July 5, 2010
Birthday cake and Sunday driving
The 4th of July: an American holiday and my birthday. I'm pretty sure this post is going to move swiftly toward melancholy, but let me say first that it was a lovely day spent with family . . . playing hopscotch, having dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant, eating cake out of doors at dusk.
We left late and everyone was pooped. I was driving and even though it was after 10 p.m., the traffic on the highway out of Toronto was heavy. Cottage traffic. I could read the minds of the drivers around me; we all just wanted to be home. The headlights from the stream of oncoming cars were a little too bright and the rush of impatient drivers, me included, was occasionally punctuated by the roar of an expensive car weaving in and out of the lanes, narrowly avoiding disaster.
My mother-in-law can't drive on the highway. That's what I was thinking while the husband and kids slept peacefully in their seats. She used to, when she was my age, but she can't anymore. As far as I know, there is no specific reason. There was no catastrophic accident, not even a near miss. She just can't drive on the highway anymore.
It's the fear. It has to be. That malignant wisp of thought that reminds you that in a moment everything could change. It sneaks up on you while you hold the fate of the people who are most important to you -- your whole world -- in your sweaty hands, white-knuckled around the steering wheel. No one tells you about the fear. Why would they? It's depressing and morbid. But there it is, lurking.
Then it recedes and you return to regularly scheduled programming. And you think to yourself, holy crap, lighten up.