Ryan Moats, a 26-year-old married man who plays for the Houston Texans, got in to a scrap with the law while frantically driving his wife to be by her mother's side as she died from breast cancer. Here is what happened - as far as I can tell - Moats drove as quickly as he could upon hearing his mother-in-law (a 45-year-old woman who was succuming to breast cancer) was about to die. He and his wife (and what I gather was another family member and a friend) made it to the hospital and, after stopping to observe it, ran through a red light (there was no one coming) to get to the hospital.
A police officer followed Moats in to the parking lot and that is when it got random. The officer, himself 25-years-old, would not allow Moats or his wife to leave the vehicle. He drew his gun. He threatened Moats with jail time. He challenged Moats to not "make this difficult". All the while Jonetta Collinsworth lay upstairs, just feet away, dying.
Moats wife decided to screw-all and just went inside. She made it to say "good bye" to her mother. Moats did not.
Heartbreaking. Sad. The woman is 45. She's dead. The wife, in her mid-20s, is motherless. Moats was not even able to say goodbye at all (he made it in to the hospital moments too soon - thanks to a security guard and nurse from the hospital who would vouch for the immediate need for him to be released, by the way). The cop came off like some toolbox with a gun and a God complex. Moats came off as the most admirable man in the history of the world who simply ran a red light and could not find his insurance card. No one wins. People are calling it racism. People are calling it abuse of power (for the football player and the cop). People should just be calling it sad (The New York Times agrees with me, for the record (smile)).
I am obsessed with the death of Jonetta Collinsworth for a very simple reason. Time. Life is about time. Not years. Not months. Not hours. Not even minutes. Seconds. Split seconds. Split second decisions and how we spend splits of seconds.
What if Moats was staying at a hotel down the street versus wherever he was coming from (could have been a hotel down the street, for all I know)? What if the light had been green? What if Moats would have just sat through the light? What if the cop was one block away and not right behind Moats when he ran the light? What if the cop had used his head and heart instead of his badge to decide what to do with Moats? What if Collinsworth had gotten a mammogram earlier or had a different treatment approach or had a cancer that was just a little slower in taking her from her loved ones? What if? What IF? WHAT IF?
I know two things. 1) Every second is important. 2) You can never go back. You can try to fix things and try to recreate moments and try to improve on them but you can't get them back and you have to realize the importance of the time spent.
I think about these things. I obsess and pour over these things. It is like a friend of mine - her father and sister were killed by a drunk driver when we were kids. What if the family had been five seconds faster or slower leaving the house that day? What if the drunk bastard decided to stay for one more drink or drive a little slower or what if he just ran off the road in to an empty field a mile before he hit my friend's family?
What if my father's ambulance didn't get to the hospital as quickly as it did the morning of his stroke? Or what if I had never met Joy? What if I had smart mouthed Uncle Jessie in the summer of 1999 (a long story, few people will know, for a different post) or just taken longer in Kinko's that night? What if I never had gastric bypass surgery? What if I had gastric bypass surgery at a different place or time in my life than I did? What if Ava's birth mother changed her mind during her pregnancy? What if I had eaten three more Oreos on one of my binges before surgery and died from the gluttony?
Moments. Split seconds. Life. Death. Decisions. Impact. Fate.
Is there such a thing as fate? Is our entire path pre-determined? Would Ms. Collinsworth have died without her son-in-law by her side no matter what happened that night? Would a flat tire have delayed the family's hospital arrival if the cop did not? Would the cancer inside Ms. Collinsworth have simply taken her two minutes sooner? Would that light have changed from green to yellow to red just as Moats was approaching it just to spite him? Would Oreos really kill me for as much as I loved them for all those years?
We'll never know if we are lead by fate (unless the series finale of Lost says so). We can never go back. We can just try to make the most of the seconds we do have and hope that God is the kind and merciful omnipotent the bible says (she/he/it) is (while destroying entire cities and smiting entire armies, mind you).
Call your mother and tell her you love her. Kiss your kid a second time before you leave the house tomorrow morning. Know EXACTLY how long it takes to drive from your house to the hospital your parents might be taken to if things go wrong (I'm trying to tell you that every second counts). Sit through stop signs patiently. If your shoe is untied - look above you, to your left and right and then stop and tie it. If someone seems in a hurry - let them go past you. Treat every second with the urgency it deserves.