It started as a pretty normal day. Some work, some meetings, some more work. I even ate a big sugar cookie going down the Conde Nast elevators just to provoke gawking.

A subway ride later, I was walking down Park Avenue South when a homeless person asked for 35 cents. She looked blind. I thought that’s uncanny, I have exactly 35 cents in my coat pocket. There must be some reason here. And as I turned back to hand it to her, the sky fell.

Well, not the sky. But chunks of ice the size of bricks, which tumbled from the fourth story church roof overhead.

One of them beaned me in the head. Hard. Like, try to maintain consciousness hard.

I was dazed. Passersby rushed forward to see if I was okay. (New Yorkers are cool that way.) I brushed them off as I rubbed the top of my scalp. I made my way to the 35 cents to the homeless woman who said, “YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!” “Well,” I mumbled, “you must really deserve this money if something made me turn around to give it to you and get hit with a brick of ice.” It seemed to make sense at the time.

All I could think of was that she wasn’t actually blind. And that she had almost a full moustache. And her eyes were kind of weird.

Then I thought of my girls. And that’s when I lost it.

Through tears, I made my way to my mother’s apartment a few blocks away and thankfully she was on her way there too. Even at forty, sometimes we need our mommies. I sat on the couch in her big plush bathrobe coddling a glass of water, and sobbed, thinking of all the headlines of random people killed each year by falling cranes or electrified manholes or broken sidewalk grates. And, maybe, ice.

My mother reminded me that I could look at it like why me?, or I could look at it like why was I spared? Coincidentally, she had been struck by lightning as a kid. She asked if I was feeling okay–dizzy or nauseous. I told her I was in shock, not feeling anything. It was probably a little post-traumatic stress disorder.

She told me she thought that that ended last week. I said no, you’re thinking of pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. I suppose there’s another blessing – that I don’t have both at once.

When something like this happens, your mind starts to create meaning out of it to try and explain it away. Was it a sign I shouldn’t give money to homeless people? Was it a sign that life is fleeting? Was it a sign that I should really get that will together that I’ve been putting off? Was it a sign that I should follow my dreams while I can? Was it a sign that I should wear a hardhat when I walk down Park Avenue South? I can’t really say.

Then we got on the computer and looked up what one does for a possible concussion.

The first step: Apply ice. Which was actually the last thing I wanted to do.


34 thoughts on “Spared”

  1. As they say, only in New York!Lots of us would have done the same. The blind and homeless combination strikes a chord – no doubt. The 35 cents? Who knows?Hope you’re okay.

  2. Oh hell, thank god you’re okay! Are you okay? I believe the first step in treatment of injury is tequila. A shot of that will warm you right up and calm you right down. Then you don’t really care if you need ice or not. Or, yes I’ll take some ice, crushed, and please marinate it in some Captain Morgan and Diet Coke.I’m glad you’re okay.

  3. Thank goodness you are ok! Looks like your ol’ cranium is doing its job!Hope you didn’t wake up with too much of a headache.And, I wouldn’t look at it as a sign of anything but maybe that spring is coming. That’s the most positive spin I can put on something as scary as this.

  4. Just glad you are well, Liz! Sometimes there doesn’t need to be any sign or meaning at all – just being thankful is good enough.

  5. About ten years ago, a man WAS killed in Chicago by ice falling off a building, so it definitely happens:( now they put signs on the sidewalk, warning of falling ice. I’m not sure how they’re supposed to help, the ice will still land on your head. thank goodness you’re okay.

  6. ouch. and spooky, too. (though i tend to agree with fairly odd mother that it is a sign of the end of winter…)any update on concussion (or not?) status?

  7. A manhole blew right in front of me on Madison and 43rd (probably, maybe 44th? can’t remember now) when my son was 6 months old and I was on a much needed break from home for a few hours to get a manicure. I felt the exact same way – what if I hadn’t chatted with the doorman on my way out? what if I walked just a bit faster? I would be in eternal peace yet my baby would be left motherless. and I just sat down a bawled my eyes out. And did not get a manicure for another 3 years. I got hit by a bike courier then. Must be a sign, I tell ya. Hope you’re feeling better..

  8. Yeah, I’m thinking ice would be the last thing I’d want to apply too…after all it was the forceful application of ice that got you into the situation. Hmph..go figure!

  9. I know the likelihood of any of those random events is much less than getting into a car accident, but they weighed on my mind every time I walked down the street or got into an elevator. Sometimes the seemingly impossible actually happens.But your mom’s right – you were spared. And I’m really thankful for that, my friend.

  10. Maybe it was the sign you needed to get you thinking about the real meaning in things and in life. Not just going through the motions of the day-to-day, just to get by. Would you have put this much thought into it if the piece of ice just randomly hit you when you were NOT stopped to give change to a homeless woman? Maybe. Maybe not.

  11. What a perfectly woven post. Sorry it was at the expensive of a sore head. You’re right, that’s what mommies are for.

  12. Those near brushes are terrifying. And yet somehow they center us. I’m glad that you are ok. (Can I borrow $10?)

  13. Thank goodness you’re okay!!And also, I think this means that you have a lifetime excuse for moments of forgetting things or running late. Obviously, it’s because some brick-sized blocks of ice tried to kick your ass, and while they failed, you can’t possibly be expected to remember everything anymore.Or at least, that would work for me. I forget everything. Sigh.I hope you’re feeling better soon!

  14. Glad you’re okay…but “apply ice!” HEEEHEE…your post cracked me up! Not the getting hit with the ice part, the applying ice to get over the attacked-by-ice injury. Oh the irony! Hope all is well. 🙂

  15. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I got so worried about freakish accidents. I am always coming up with ways that I could potentially get hurt. I rode the StormRunner at Hershey Park two summers ago. I felt so reckless riding it. My children were standing with their dad sobbing, begging me not to ride it. But I so wanted to give it a go. When I got off it, my kids were relieved that I was alive. I felt all sorts of guilty for putting them through it.

  16. Ouch!! I hope the 35 cents helped the homeless person get something – a meal, a cup of coffee, or meet some cash goal. I’m glad you’re okay.

  17. What a crazy story! I’m glad to hear that you only had a mild concussion (read your other post too…). Take care and be careful out on those streets of NY!

  18. Ouch!! Yet another reason to love where I live — no falling ice bricks.I didn’t realize you have PMDD. I just got diagnosed with it. It’s been seriously kicking my butt to the point of being warned about my performance at work. 😛

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