They say that in those short moments of a near death experience, time slows down and your whole life flashes before your eyes. Well, I’m not sure who “they” are, but they have obviously never had one of those near death experiences.
I’ve been through two of them, and I can assure you, if you’re lucky enough to have any time at all to process what is going on, it is typically the sudden realization that death may be imminent in that moment. It’s the understanding that in a split second, everything will change.
For me, these experiences have solidified my belief in God and given me a stronger resolve to be a better Christian.
The first experience left me far more terrified in that moment than the second one. I attribute it to the fact that by the second one, I had a vague idea of what was going on.
The first occurred three years ago. I had only been driving regularly for about 8 months by that point, and it was my first winter driving. It was the eve before New Year’s Eve in 2008, and at the time I was still living/working at the Christian Camp just outside of town. My sister had picked me up for a coffee date, and was letting me borrow her car so that I could drive in to my third job after serving breakfast in the morning.
It was snowing hard. Really hard. I should have crashed at the parentals house, but after driving fine from downtown to the house, my sister and I figured I would be fine. Said goodnight, and she reminded me where the insurance and information was just in case I was in an accident. That should have been sign enough. But instead, I took it as just her overprotective reminders, and off I went.
I pulled to the stop sign two turns before the bypass (a road to ‘bypass’ the town, kind of like a short highway), and clear as day, a voice in my head says “Don’t take the bypass”. I ignored it, chalking it up to my own over-active paranoia of car accidents. Took the turn and headed up to the traffic lights to get on the bypass. As I waited for the green light, I heard again “Don’t take the bypass.” I told myself to take a chill pill.
I turned onto the bypass, and got this sudden, unexplainably overwhelming urge to pray for my safety. So I did. Not even thirty seconds after I finished praying it happened. I was rounding the big curve on the bypass as the snow started to pick up. I had dropped my speed to about 50km/h already and was about to drop it more. I could feel the wheels slip, and within seconds I was thrown into a spin.
I had no time to process anything. One second I was driving the right way, the next, headlights were coming straight at me.
There was no time to think about life or death. I was overcome with dread, and all I had time to think were the words “Oh, God no.”
Then impact. A head-on collision with an impact speed of 120km/h (For you Americans, I think that’s about 74 m/h).
All the emergency responders said I shouldn’t have walked away. There was an identical accident the night before, and all were in critical condition. I walked away with minor injuries, a screwed up knee and minor cuts (lots and lots of bruising).
I was off work for three weeks because I couldn’t walk. I did a lot of soul searching during that time. But one of the biggest things that hit me, was for my faith, the love of God. You see, I struggle with the idea of being loved. Always have. I feel I’m unlovable. I’m worthless; I don’t have anything worth someone having that affection for me over someone who deserves it more. To this day, I still believe God used that situation to show me otherwise.
That voice inside my head, I have no doubt was God. And you know, even after warning me twice (three times if you include the insurance comment) and having me blatantly ignore Him, He loved me enough to STILL cover me and send His angels to protect me from the wreckage.
That knowledge revolutionized my life. The accident was the last thing I needed at that point. The accident I just had was the last thing I needed right now. Sometimes, life just deals you a very shitty hand. But life is short. You never know when it will end. And you have a choice. You can take that shitty hand and mope about how life is kicking you in the ass. Or you can take that hand, and you can make something of it. You can choose to get up every day and remind yourself how lucky you are to be alive and how much you have to offer in this life.
I’ll be the first to admit that life is currently beating the shit out of me. But you know, despite all that, all I need to do is think about how quickly it could have all been taken away to remind myself how to see all the good amongst the bad. And for that reason, I choose to love every day and make the most of it (even if I do break down and cry like a five year old girl sometimes.)