I had always been afraid of death. I grew up a very curious child and I grew up Catholic. It was drilled into my head time and time again that our life here on earth is only a small part of our journey. Supposedly, this is to be a comforting notion.
But this never satisfied my curiosity – I wanted to know what it felt like to die. Did it hurt? Would I realize I was dead and be watching as a ghost outside my body like in the movies? This is what scared me the most – the unknown. The thought of what comes after sounded equally as scary. Getting lowered into the ground? No thanks. Getting cremated? Hard pass. All options seemed pretty intimidating in my opinion, especially when thinking about it at such a young age.
I spent 23 years of life pondering these questions. It didn’t help that my anxiety never let me forget this fear – it seemed to haunt activities that to everyone else seemed mundane. While everyone was out getting their license permit at 16, I was trying to figure out ways that I would never have to get behind the wheel. It took me 19 years to work up the courage to even consider getting my license and even then, I still dreaded having to drive. I had no idea that in one night my fear of driving would one day release me from my fear of death.
April 24, 2015 changed my life. This day started out nothing special – I drank my coffee in the morning like usual, drove to work like usual, slaved away at work like usual. I had my routines and my routines kept me safe.
But no one could have prepared me for the underage drunk driver running through a red light and t-boning my driver-side door. They say your life flashes before you when you think you are going to die – or at least that’s what the movies tell us. I saw nothing and I felt nothing. It’s funny what our bodies can withstand with adrenaline running through our veins. I sometimes have flash backs to the moments after the collision, but the only thing I can’t remember is the pain.
I gained consciousness at the hospital where I was met with police trying to force the memories out me. I opened my eyes and all I heard was, “Do you remember what happened? Do you know where you are?”
Just FYI, these are not the things someone want to hear as soon as they open their eyes. I sustained a broken pelvis, a severe concussion, and the ugliest bruises that covered my body – but I lived.
I was told that if the car had hit about an inch to the right, I probably would have died, not just broken my bones. Although that thought should have been horrifying, it wasn’t. Instead it brought me a weird sense of comfort that even if I had died that day, I wouldn’t have felt it. It would have been like going to sleep, but much worse to people who should witness it.
It can be difficult to explain this feeling to someone who has not slipped past death’s hands. I am no longer afraid to die. There was no white light and there were no out-of-body experiences. To die would just be to move on silently from this world. I don’t know what comes after dying – with my body or my soul, but I do know that there is no pain, only release.