i know this may seem a wee bit trite & over sentimentalized, but sometimes thing happen that make me very grateful for the little things in my life. & that make me realize exactly how many people really do love me & care about me every single day. as i'm sure everyone is aware of, on wednesday august 1, 2007 the 35W bridge, just north of interstate 94 collapsed suddenly into the mississippi river. when this all happened i was blissfully unaware browsing at the target in minnetonka. (for those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the twin cities, minnetonka is a suburb of minneapolis, about 20 minutes west from down town minneapolis, give or take & depending on traffic). after strolling out of target with purchases in hand i made my way over to the byerly's to get some last minute supplies for a chicken noodle salad i had to bring for a going away pot luck at work.
in the space of fifteen minutes i received three frantic phone calls. first from my brother demanding to know where i was. at first i thought something happened to my parents or one of my pets. my brother said something broken about my grandmother calling him, telling him a bridge over 35 collapsed, & wanting to know if i was ok. it didn't make any sense, but i told him yes i was fine. he said he had to call my sister & hung up. i was left standing in the frozen foods aisle of byerly's holding a box of ring noodles & a bag of frozen sweet peas looking at my phone utterly confused. as i checked out, paying for the noodles & peas, my phone rang again, this time it was my dad's cell phone number. i think it's completely rude to talk on a cell phone while completing a business transaction so i didn't answer. as i was walking out of the store, about 30-60 seconds after the first call, my phone rang again. it was my mom, calling from my dad's cell phone, in a sheer panic. she kept asking me over & over where i was & was i ok. i told her i was in minnetonka, i was fine, & what the hell was going on. she said something about a bridge on, or over, 35W collapsing & she wanted to know if i was ok. it still didn't make any sense to me, i said i was fine, just doing some errands & about to head home.
even though i had talked to both my mom & my brother & they had both said basically the same thing, i was still left shaking my head, utterly confused about what was going on & why they both were so panicked. i was just leaving byerly's when i got a call from jenn. it wasn't until the call from jenn that the entire situation really sank in. so, once again, i was asked where i was & if was i ok. i told her that i was just leaving the byerly's near her apartment, i was fine, & what was going on?! she told me that part of 35W, a bridge crossing over the mississippi, suddenly collapsed into the river. & that she thought i took that way home. she knew i was going to target but she had no clue if i was still in minnetonka or on my way home or on the bridge. & she was watching the news coverage, looking for my car in the river. that's when i got the chills. for anyone who hasn't seen my car, it's a bright summer blue saturn, with a moon roof, rear spoiler, & detailing on the side. it's a very unique looking car in a special edition color. so if it was in the river, & visible, it would be pretty easy to tell who's car it was. there was something about hearing that jenn was looking among the wreckage of the bridge for my car that made me sick.
i am completely touched that she cares so much about me that she wanted to make sure i was ok & was looking to make sure that my car, & myself, were not involved. but it made me sick to think of the what if. that bridge is not one that i take on a regular basis, but anytime i want to go to roseville or vadnais heights i would take 35W up to 36 east. it's usually a random last minute decision. wednesday, on the drive back to my apartment, east on 394 & then east on 94, i had a full flown panic attack. emergency vehicles were tearing past me on the highway, heading to the scene of the accident as i drove up 394. the 35 W north exit from 94 was barricaded off when i passed it on the way home. & i cried. a lot. not that on wednesday i had any intention at all of heading that way, but the gravity of the situation fell on me all at once.
in the days since this happened i've found out some things. one of them is that while i suspected it, my sister would travel that bridge quite a bit since she lives in north east minneapolis. thank the gods this didn't happen while she was on it. i'm so grateful for everything that led her to not be on that bridge when it collapsed. i also found out that an acquaintance of mine had just finished crossing the bridge & saw it collapse into the river. & my cousin john had planned on taking the bridge route to get home to his apartment near the U of M, but at the last minute took a different route because of the road construction on the bridge. he saw it fall from a different road. while i'm not one to randomly quote biblical passages (& i'm not even 100% this is EVEN a bible passage) but, i'll say it anywhere: there but for the grace of god. . . .
so even though my cousin drives me batty, i'm thankful for whatever caused him to change his travel that day. i'm glad my sister's day took her in a different direction. i feel genuinely bad for all the families that lost loved ones on august 1st, but i also have to say, thank goodness that MNDOT was doing road construction, that the lanes were reduced, because the families mourning the dead & the lost would be a lot higher without that construction. & thank god it was still summer & not the beginning of the fall semester at the U. this was a terrible tragedy that is going to radiate through the cities, especially with those of us raised here, for a long time, but it could have been so much worse.
my biggest thanks goes out to all of my friends & family, coast to coast, that called me & text messaged me just to say hey. there are some times in my life where i feel a bit forgotten, a bit cast aside, & a smidge unloved. & the next time one of those times comes around i'll remember: tina calling me just home from the hospital with newborn baby lucas, sarah calling at 6 am thursday morning just so she could hear my voice even though she got a text the night before, april texting because the phone lines were jammed, & all the other texts, IMs, calls. & when i think of any one of those things, particularly the sum of all of those messages & "i love yous" i'll remember that the dark times really aren't so dark when you have that many people that love you unconditionally.