Life Defining Moments

There are certain events that get burned into our memory, so totally, that no matter how much time passes, it feels like it only happened yesterday.

It was a Friday evening and mid-winter. Although I had only just finished eating dinner, it was already dark outside. I was alone at home. My husband had taken our boys to the barber while our teenage daughters were both working at their part time jobs.

I did a bit of tidying up, cherishing the silence of an empty house. Although I have always wanted and treasured the excitement and commotion of a large family, on a rare occasion it felt invigorating to be alone, just me and our cat Simba. I made myself a cup of tea, put my feet up and enjoyed the sweet serenity.

I glanced at the wall clock in the kitchen. Soon it would be time for my daughter’s library shift to end and I needed to go pick her up. The older the children grew, the more I felt like mum’s taxi, yet the last thing I wanted to do was complain. It was that busy, active season of life, when there were lots of people around the dining table, loads of washing to do and someone always to talk to.

I left in good time, feeling relaxed. I turned the radio on and started on my way, while Smooth FM played their tunes.

About halfway there, I became aware of a large Sterling Prime Mover with a semi-trailer in my rear-view mirror. While I was travelling on the lefthand lane, the truck was using the overtaking lane, very slowly but surely, closing the distance between us.

Relaxing peaceful music filled my red Ford station wagon. I was thinking about everyday things, living my everyday life, minding my own business. I was a strong, independent, and efficient 39-year-old, mother of four. There was no indication of anything amiss, or that any minute now, I was going to experience one of the most defining moments of my life, that had the power to set my whole life spinning out of control.

I now know enough to realise my life was never the same again. I was not able to return to my life I had been living. Life will forever be coloured with the night’s events and time will always be referred to as before and after the accident.

It all happened like in slow motion. The big truck I had noticed earlier, failed to give way to me. He clipped the back of my car and kept pushing me out of the way as he continued to move into my lane. My tiny car, next to a giant huge truck, was struggling to stay facing forward, on the 90 kms an hour zone road.

To my absolute terror, like a ball bouncing and spinning on a roulette table, my car began to spin in front of the truck. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times it spun, it just felt like forever. I had no control of the car. No way of stopping it, and no hope of making it alive.

But the peace I felt was supernatural. I was in the toughest point of my entire life, about to meet my Maker. Yet I knew that I knew, I was ready. No doubt in my mind. I wasn’t even scared of dying. All I said was: “Here I am God, I’m coming home”.

Next thing I saw were the bright lights of the truck in my windscreen, I heard the deafening sound of his grinding brakes and then everything went black as the truck hit my car head-on.

Time passed. I came to, sitting inside the car wreck. I held my head fearing it would explode. My left foot was stuck under the pedal, there was no front door in sight and the cabin was filled with shattered glass. The front seat had moved forward, and I had hit my head on the steering wheel.

I couldn’t believe I was still alive. But I was in so much pain all over my body that I don’t really know which part hurt the most.

Two men appeared out of nowhere. They were muscular tradies, both total strangers to me, maybe on their way home from work. There was no time for introductions or small talk. The one who took charge told me they wanted me out of the car fast in case the vehicle explodes into flames. They seemed surprised to find me alive and relieved too that I had no passengers in the car. The men helped me out, one on either side of me, as I stepped on the ground with just my socks on. I have no idea what had happened to my shoes.

I kept going in and out of consciousness. The men placed a piece of cardboard from the back of their Ute on the ground and told me to sit on it. It was cold, dark, and windy. I did what they told me to do. As I was sitting there, I became aware of what I thought were shattered teeth. One of the guys handed me a bottle of water and told me to flush my mouth with it. This was when I realised it wasn’t broken teeth but pieces of glass. There was glass in my eyes too. Again, obedient to instruction, I poured water into my open eyes to flush them out.

Sitting there alone in the cold dark night, on the ground, on top of a piece of cardboard, I lifted my eyes to the stars. So it wasn’t my time to go just yet. I watched as cars kept driving past as if nothing had happened. Their journey home might have got a little slower, yet mine had come to a sudden halt. But my life wasn’t over.

My car now resembled a big banana. I was told it had wrapped itself around a power pole, missing my head by 2 centimetres. The police picked up my daughter, while the ambulance took me to the hospital.

All our days are numbered. Our life’s painting is not finished until our time is up. We would do well to make life’s defining moments count, to make memories that live beyond a lifetime.

A crisis has a way of stopping us in our tracks, jolting us out of our routine and rearranging our lives. I had my wake-up call in the form of a near fatal car accident. I can’t say I have made the most of every moment. I can’t even say I have lived my life especially well since that fateful night. But having a brush with death sure is a dramatic reminder of the shortness of life. I am thankful I was allowed to carry on with mine, to see my children grow up, meet my grandchildren and to continue to learn and hopefully become wiser along the way.

I still can’t believe I am here to tell you the story.  

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Yes, I can’t believe it too! You are still here, able to write and despite ongoing medical issues which are traumatic in themselves, able to still keep on going in a way that appreciates all that you have, here and now. May we all be blessed through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Anne-Marie for your encouraging words! I guess life has a way of teaching us and making us understand just how short it it. What a privilege it is, for all of us, to wake up to a new day as the sun rises! Hope yours is a happy one today!


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