Two Faces

The girl in the waiting room looked like a ghost. I brought her back to my office and asked her to tell me her story. It turned out that she had survived two car accidents within the period of one week. In the first, a bus had skidded down a hill and crashed into the left rear of her vehicle. Blocked by a car on her right, and traffic in the intersection in front of her she was helpless as the bus careened toward her. The car was totaled but the girl only left with severe bruises. In the second accident, she skidded on ice, carried uncontrollably into the car in front of her. Although she survived with whiplash and bruises, the car she was driving was destroyed. Terror was frozen on her face and palpable to me in her ashen skin. She trembled visibly. As if I were looking at a trick picture, her eyes peered at me from two faces: the face of life and of death.

two times she died
in perception
this grey survivor
haunted now by
deaths that could have been

The fear that the young woman could not overcome had its roots in the certainty of her own fragility. There was no healing I could offer for a wound of this sort. Instead I joined her in an awe of that which is beyond us, nullifies our presumptions of eternity and smacks us down with finitude.

careening through time
to conclusion or end
we are caught in our fall
by kindness
– our shared fate

Leslie Ihde
A Hundred Gourds 1:4 September 2012

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