The Obvious Message from the State Trooper

Speedlimit blank

Speedlimit blank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The timing of a breakdown is interesting.  How it starts is interesting too.  Often times, the smallest and most inconsequential issue is what sets a person up for such an episode.  My breakdown the other week was one such scene – came out of left field, but it gave me the opportunity to reflect and consider its meaning.

I was making my way to work in the morning, driving on the highway that I always drive on and driving at the speed limit that I always drive.  My husband had recently returned home from the hospital again, this time having survived pulmonary embolisms.  Ahead of me on my commute I could see a state trooper.  I was considering the radio program and trying to get “reacquainted” with the real world and the news.  As I approached closer to the state trooper, I realized I needed to get over to the right lane (of 4 lanes) for my exit was coming up shortly.  I put on my blinker and started the migration.  The state trooper’s lights instantly came on and he pulled up behind me.  I was honestly confused.  I had NO idea why he would pull me over.  Pulling to the side, I was not nervous as you might expect.  Certainly in the past when such instances have occurred, my heart would have pounded, and I would have been so anxious, thinking that I might get a ticket.  This time I had no such nervousness.  I knew that I wasn’t speeding and thought maybe I had something wrong with my car (it is after all my “beater” commuter car with 400,000+ miles on it). 

So, the officer got out of his car and came up to my side window.  “Ma’am,” he asked, “do you know why I pulled you over?”  I replied, “Honestly, I do not.  I don’t think I was speeding.”  He looked at me strangely, and said “Ma’am, you don’t pass a state trooper.”  “Oh,” I said, now realizing what I did, “I just realized that I needed to get off at this exit, so I was veering over.”  “Ma’am,” he said again, “you don’t pass a state trooper.”  I just shook my head yes, trying not to be disrespectful or rude.  I still was confused.  “Ma’am. I’m not going to give you a ticket,” the nice trooper said.  He continued, “But Ma’am, you don’t pass a state trooper.”  I shook my head again and the trooper turned to leave.  It was then that I chose to have my breakdown, tears started welling up in my eyes and I blurted out all kinds of things as quickly as I could, “My husband just came home from the ICU.  I was just trying to get off the road for my exit.   I guess I was distracted.  My husband is so ill and struggling so much……”  on and on and on I went.  Who knows what I really said.  I don’t think the trooper really knew either.  He was backing up slowly and just said again, “Ma’am, I’m not going to give you a ticket.  But, really, don’t pass a state trooper.”  Then he was gone.  He got in his vehicle and left.  I stayed in my car and cried.  My breakdown started and ended in about 10 minutes.

After my crying session, I got my sense about me and started my commute again.  Although the incident occurred a couple of weeks ago, I continue to contemplate its message.  The obvious statement “don’t pass a state trooper” was really “pay attention – don’t ignore the obvious.”  As a result, I have started thinking about what is out there that is so obvious that I am forgetting to pay attention.  Could it be something large in gesture like God is always present?  He is obvious in many ways – should I be paying more attention to Him, to the potential comfort and answers He may be trying to send my way?  Is the obvious in that my friends and family are surrounding me with love and help and that I need to be more mindful of them?  Is the obvious that my husband is in need of more of my attention and care, and that he has the potential to get better?  I’m not sure of the answer, perhaps I am not supposed to know, but that I am to be in a more contemplative mode in general.  Still, one of these days, I might experience that “aha” moment and wonder why it took me so long to reach that point.  In the meantime I figure, my awareness is on alert and that is always a good thing during these troubled times of trying to help my family as best I can.

So what message is in your face that you are ignoring?  What do we disregard that we shouldn’t?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melinda Corbin on May 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Hi Erica,

    I’m in awe at your strength through Jim’s illness. As simple and direct as the trooper’s message was, it was that one more thing that you were supposed to keep in your head along with where the kids have to be, grading papers, planning lessons, what’s for dinner and then the whole life that is Jim right now – why isn’t Jim getting better? – what nurse will be here today?- what can I do for Jim? – what did I forget? – doctor calls/visits and on and on. Bless your heart – I pray that someone is taking care of you. That’s not a selfish thing. You’re a key ingredient to the whole process. Yes, it’s time to sacrifice, but you can’t forget yourself. You and Jim are a unit – one soul. When he hurts, you hurt and vice versa. Jim knows this as well. Yes, God is always present, but not as a father in the clouds looking down, but within you and Jim through His Spirit. Like I told Jim on caringbridge, God didn’t “allow” Jim’s illness – He doesn’t cause pain. The Lord hurts for you both. He’s also not prolonging the illness and waiting to heal Jim in His time – that’s just cruel. Why would anyone believe in a Father like that. I don’t even begin to have the answers as to why Jim’s not recovering other than a severe illness has taken hold and won’t let go – not to mention the doctors aren’t up to speed on Lyme as a whole. I’m not sure either that there’s a real point to trying to rationalize it all. That’s a major effort in its self. The whole thing with the trooper just shows that life goes on around us and he had no idea that you were stressed and hurting. It’s like you’re on slow motion and the world is spinning around you. For a while you and your family are in your own world – kind of stepping out of the norm for a while. No it’s not what you expected to be doing, it’s not welcomed and it’s not “fun”. But it’s you life for now and you are doing a phenomenal job, whether you know it or not. You’re so blessed with great kids, a wonderful man, family and friends who love you both. Maybe that’s the obvious – the rest out there just can’t be as important. I know we haven’t met, but I’ve come to know some about you through your journaling. While my father was going through a long illness and was in the hospital for months (my sister was out of state and my mom relied heavily on me) I miscarried and didn’t really have the time to process that because of what I was called upon to do at the time, so I understand a bit of what you’re going through in keeping up the pace. Please take care……Melinda Corbin


    • Thank you so much Melinda. What a nice note, full of wisdom and insight. It is true that we have come to know one another through your postings to caringbridge and my notes as well. I very much appreciate your kindness. Very much!


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