Moment to Moment

We were about to brush our teeth and go to sleep, Ana and I. Kaia, my stepdaughter (Ana’s daughter), was out seeing a friend. Dog Ben: on his bed, already well done and down for the day. Ana’s phone rang. I picked up. It was Kaia, hysterical. At approximately 11:16 p.m., on September 19, 2016, a tan Toyota Corolla, traveling west on Amity Street in Amherst, Massachusetts, entered the intersection with University Drive, and was struck on the drivers side front corner by a Toyota Camry approaching from the west and making a left turn onto University. Heavy damage was sustained on both vehicles. Neither Toyota would ever drive again.   Both drivers survived the collision intact, without sustaining evident serious injury. Driver of the Corolla returned home from the hospital at roughly four in the morning; she was mighty shook up. So was her mother. Stepdad, too. Life goes on. The event reminded me, as I am so often reminded, of the exquisite fragility of existence. And especially, of how it hangs in every moment, suspended by a gossamer thread of unlikeliness. I’ve written before about “the ordinary moment,” as Joan Didion refers to it in her memoir, A Year of Magical Thinking, describing the instant her husband suddenly keeled over and left this world. I remember the first time I told Ana, out loud, that I loved her. We were on the phone. “I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone,” I said. I hadn’t planned to say it, hadn’t even thought it — not in so many words — but the instant I heard the words fly out...