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Veering Off Course

If looks could kill, I’d be dead by now.

 

I interpreted the aforementioned quote in a much more different manner than one normally would.

 

The looks of headlights staring directly into my eyes, dilating my pupils wider and wider as the brilliant, blinding light blankets my vision, certainly could kill me – quite literally.

 

My car was swerving into a one-way lane – at a traffic signal. Instead of making a left turn to head to the lane on the right, in a forward direction, the car had turned to the lane exactly adjacent to the right lane – to the one where cars only exited. I saw the car in front of us slowing down as it realized that its path was becoming blocked by us heading into its rightfully designated lane. I wished the curb could stop this collision.

 

I wish the curb could stop this collision.

 

I wish it was the daytime right now.

 

I wish we hadn’t turned so quickly.

 

People say that moments before their death, they see their entire life ‘flash before their eyes’ and have their memories somehow replayed to them.

 

I had no such experience. My subconscious was silent. I saw no visions – only headlights of the vehicle charging straight into me.

 

I was not remembering the best or worst moments of my lifetime. I did not feel pain – only dread, in the form of fear. Adrenaline did not leap into my veins abruptly. My heart did not race fast.

 

I was simply staring at a car that was slowly but surely coming towards me, and being on the passenger’s side closest to the incoming vehicle certainly didn’t help my emotions.

 

The car stopped.

 

My mother had slammed the brakes just in time. The car in front of us honked at us loudly but was still not reacting the way I had expected it to.

 

Of course – why would it? This wasn’t a traffic jam; it was a momentary instant of shock, which, could have been regret a few seconds ago if my mother had not reacted in time.

 

She backed out, and miraculously enough, there were no cars behind us. She steered the wheel towards the right side, to the correct direction of the lane, and accelerated into it, not even bothering to look to the other side to check whether another car would slam into us.

 

It was an intersection of convenience. Had reality been more brutal or life harsher, multiple cars from behind us, and to the right of us would have crashed into us by now. But today was just not the day for airbags. It was a night of miracles.

 

After realizing this grateful occurrence, I looked to the life-changing woman next to me, my mother, who had been eerily quiet this whole time. Her dullish lips were slightly pursed together, as if words had already formed, but were too trivial to be said or worthy of expression.

 

What was going on within her mind to commit to such a massive mistake? Swerving into an incoming road during a routine Safeway trip is uncommon for a veteran driver such as my mother – at least, it should be. Had the 2-hour commute taken a toll on her nerves? Was she physically and mentally drained? Of course, one truth was certain: whatever that stressed her to the level that it distracted her driving concentration, had the ability to block her visual judgment. It had to be explored, treated and eliminated.

 

Commutes did make her weary. Her arms seemed to flail as she changed gears, and came to terms with the injury/death she had just narrowly escaped. I endeavored my best to calm her down, soothe her worries, and alleviate the high blood pressure she had now incurred.

 

While our malaise afflicted our minds, I simply prayed that the ever-alert camera on the traffic signal hadn’t caught our missed (wrong) turn.

Melody A. Chang

UC Berkeley '19

As a senior undergraduate, I seek out all opportunities that expand my horizons, with the aim of developing professionally and deepening my vision of how I can positively impact the world around me. While most of my career aims revolve around healthcare and medicine, I enjoy producing content that is informative, engaging, and motivating.  In the past few years, I have immersed myself in the health field through working at a private surgical clinic, refining my skills as a research assistant in both wet-lab and clinical settings, shadowing surgeons in a hospital abroad, serving different communities with health-oriented nonprofits, and currently, exploring the pharmaceutical industry through an internship in clinical operations.  Career goals aside, I place my whole mind and soul in everything that I pursue whether that be interacting with patients in hospice, consistently improving in fitness PR’s, tutoring children in piano, or engaging my creativity through the arts. Given all the individuals that I have yet to learn from and all the opportunities that I have yet to encounter in this journey, I recognize that I have much room and capacity for growth. Her Campus is a platform that challenges me to consistently engage with my community and to simultaneously cultivate self-expression. 
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