Last night I had a nightmare involving speeding cars and blinding headlights and a terrifying inability to see the road. In my sleep, I must have been back in Miami, where I spent several days because my critically ill daughter, Christine, is a patient in Jackson Memorial Hospital.
I was staying with my cousin, Sam, and his wife, Reva, in Southwest Kendall, and traversed the network of toll roads, overpasses, unheralded dead-ends and surrealistic spaghetti junctions – from south to north – at least twice a day. Obviously, God is not ready to take me home as I made it back to Lakeland in one piece.
My survival is also due – at least in part – to the fact that either my wife, Sandra, or my sister, Elizabeth, was invariably in the car with me, and they could read the signs that flashed by in a whirl of hazy green and dirty white. With my glasses, I can see adequately in the daylight, but at those high speeds, I cannot read the signs in time to react to them, and at night all I see is a kaleidoscope of headlights coming at me like a swarm of luminous bees.
I know I am largely to blame for my horrible experience. I should have thought to bring a map or GPS instead of relying on the directions of gas station attendants and their customers. I should not have stayed so long at the hospital that I ended up driving at night. And I concede that in my grief-stricken condition, my concentration was not as sharp as it should be.
But I also blame the Miami traffic system. It originated a long time ago and has grown randomly over the years like a monstrous man-eating plant. Obviously, it was not planned. There is no logic to it. For one thing, exits may be on the right or left, depending on the whim of the person who designed it. We often found ourselves on the far right of four lanes of racing traffic only to see – too late to do anything about it – our exit coming up on the left (and, of course, vice versa).
If anyone with any clout is reading this, I beg them to suggest adding “at right” or “at left” to the signs warning of an upcoming exit (eg: Next exit NW 17th Avenue, 2 miles, at far right). That small thing would have saved me much grief.
I derived some comfort from the fact that I am not alone in my problems negotiating the Miami traffic network. When I felt strong enough to face the computer, there was an email from a friend, Tom Gold, with a link to a blog by our mutual friend, Bill Moore. I am sure you’ll get a chuckle from it:
And, finally, thanks and praise be to God. Christine (shown with me at right) is making tiny steps toward recovery. Every day that she stays alive gives her body a better chance to heal itself. All of our relatives and friends – and their friends and friends of friends – are praying for her. I believe very strongly in the power of prayer and I am inexpressibly thankful for the supplications being made on her behalf. She is only 37 and has a long life ahead of her (if that is God’s will).
I also wish to express my gratitude to the doctors and nurses laboring to save Christine’s life. They are tireless and meticulous, caring for her as if she were their own flesh and blood. No words could possibly describe my appreciation for their devotion.