Life After Death - What happens when you don't die....

What happens when you realize you just might be taking your last breath, but somehow you survive? Like anyone, I've had near misses with cars or falls that make you wonder what might have happened if you had only been one second earlier or just two steps to the left. But I've also had 3 instances in my life when I was pretty sure it was all over. And then I survived. Living after I thought I could have died, changed my life dramatically.

In a lot of ways it's really weird. Everything you see from that point on is something you would have missed. You feel like you're living on borrowed time and your whole perspective changes.

Has it ever happened to you? I'd love to hear your stories. Here's what happened to me.

I was 17 and decided to drive home from college to visit my family. It was dark and rainy, but I pressed on. Suddenly, the rain came down so hard that I couldn't see anything. Anything! I was tired and wanted to get home so I made a stupid decision. I decided to drive through it.

I thought I'd "just drive straight" and that somehow that would ensure I would stay on the road. It worked for a few minutes, and then it didn't....

I was driving north on a two lane highway. Two south bound lanes ran parallel to me - the roads separated by a large grassy ditch. By driving "straight," I drove right out of the northbound lanes, into the ditch and straight toward the southbound traffic. I could see their lights and I quickly turned my car in the other direction and got stuck.

Instantly, I felt grateful that I was able to turn my car before I hit anyone and also grateful that I had chosen the left lane (closest to the oncoming traffic) as opposed to the right lane which is surrounded by a lake. I can't even imagine how I would have dealt with the water impact, got out of my car, and swam in the pouring rain without any visibility.

But my feelings of relief were quickly overshadowed by the fact that I was at least nine miles from a gas station in either direction and this was 4 years before I got my first cell phone. I was 17, in the rainy dark, alone. But not for long...

I knew it would be hours before the police would find me and I started planning my escape. That's when a big van pulled over near my car and a large man got out. He was huge and I thought to this is how it ends. 

It was dark with almost no visibility. He was four times my size. I knew my odds weren't good. I decided running was my only chance. If he got a hold on me, I knew it was over.

He never said a word. He walked to the side of his van and opened the passenger door. Oh my God....time to RUN!

He got into the van and came back out with big chains. He walked to the back of his van and connected the chains. Then he walked to the front of my car and connected the chains. I realized he wasn't planning to hurt me and I said "Thank you."

He said nothing. He got into his van, so I got in my car. He pulled me out, then quickly removed the chains and drove away.

It was the oddest of experiences. I went from preparing for the fight of my life to awe inspiring gratitude. I left that road feeling renewed in the "good of people." That guy didn't have to help me, and he did - Just because.

When I got home, I wrote it all down in my journal. I couldn't believe people could be so amazing. I had spent my first 17 years living in a world full of drunks, druggies, and all out downers. They stole because they wanted to and hurt people on purpose.

When I first went off to college, I had a very hard time adjusting to being truly "on my own." I was the poorest I had ever been in my life, my car was always breaking down, and I was just trying to navigate this new world within the context of the life I knew.

I finally felt like maybe the world was worth it. I poured myself into my school work and set high goals for myself. Life was good and I was going to enjoy it.

Fast forward 2 years and I think I might die again....

I have one year of college left. I'm still poor as hell. I work 4 jobs simultaneously to pay for rent/college/food/life. I'm going to digress right here to tell you that working 4 jobs was a mistake. I still pulled straight A's and had a resume of gold (with excellent job offers months before I even graduated....) but it was still a mistake.

I worked so I could pay my school loans and living expenses. The truth is, most of my loans were deferred and didn't earn interest until I graduated. The truth is, I could have taken out MORE loans to cover most of my expenses and just paid for it later. But I am debt adverse. Or more like debt allergic. I could not stand having debt. So I paid my loans while I was in school. Sometimes I only ate an apple all day, or one sandwich, but I paid all my loans and other bills early.

I parked 1-2 miles away from campus, and walked or ran to school to avoid the $2.50/day parking fee. And that's how this second event begins. I was heading off to my first shift at the hospital. It would have been sometime between 4 - 6am. I was in charge of this department and could come anytime between then to fit my schedule.

In case you're wondering, the rest of my day included classes spread all over the campus, a teaching job at the university, a university lab position, and a lab position at a local chemical company. I usually ended the night with another shift at the hospital and started back for my car around midnight where I would run back to my car in the dark and pray that it would start (it did 60% of the time.) There wasn't much eating or sleeping - but a whole lot of walking, reading and working.

So on this day, somewhere between 4 and 6 am, I had parked my car in the ghetto and was walking along "the river" to the hospital. The river roads were notorious for violent crimes, but it was the closest route to the hospital. And I was actually one road over from "the river road" but was following the same path.

I could sense that someone was behind me. I quickened my pace. I heard them quicken as well. And here is where I made my mistake. I took a few seconds to think about what to do next. Should I run? Would I look stupid if I just started running for no reason? Should I cross to the other street? Should I yell?

In the end, I decided to run - but it was too late. He had already grabbed me. He quickly put one arm around my waist and covered my mouth and nose with his other hand.

I let out the most blood curdling, loudest scream I had ever heard in my life. I didn't even know I had it in me. And in fact, it wasn't me. I didn't do it, my body did it on it's own. My mind was thinking, "don't let him move you to a second location, don't let him move you..."

But I didn't think for long because as soon as the scream came out, he let me go. And I took off running. He came running after me and.....called out my name!

I turned to see a boy I knew from a chemistry club on campus. He didn't say he was sorry. He wasn't laughing or anything. He tried to "strike up a conversation" and I just said, "I have to get to work" and ran off to the hospital.

I don't know why he was out that early in the morning. I don't know if he grabbed me as a joke or to get my attention....or if he had other plans. We were not friends and had never really talked before. I had seen him in the chemistry club, but let's just say - he wasn't my type.

Maybe the scream of death scared him enough to change his plans. I'm glad that it did, but I've always wondered what my body would have done next.

The scream was not planned or done with any effort. It just came instinctively. Would I have fought instinctively? Would I have got angry and started a drag out bloody fight? Or would I have submitted and been dragged away. I shudder to think of it, but this moment also changed my life forever.

I am always aware of my surroundings now. I never considered myself a pansy, but I recognize it was my fault that I ever let someone get that close in the first place. I should have been more alert. I should have turned around and confronted him or ran from the outset.

From that day forward, I have always carried a weapon and I have mentally prepared to use it (or my hands/feet/whatever.) From that day on I have been prepared to kill or be killed.

I had less than a year of school left, and I changed everything. I dropped down to one job and stopped paying off my loans. No worries, I paid them off within 3 months of my first job. I started riding my bike for speed and increased visibility, and life was good.

I kept at it until the financial drama of 2007/2008 when I became a frugal freak and it would take yet another death defying moment to remind me that money isn't everything. But I'll tell that story another time....


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