The Day I Cheated Death

Let me preface this entry by saying that as a child, my death was foretold by a Buddhist monk. It was predicted that I would die in some sort of vehicular accident. I’ve carried that premonition with me for as long as I could remember in an effort to cheat death.

Memento Mori

* * *

It was a beautiful day on campus, a spring afternoon. It was May 3, 2007.

The heat wave had started to pick up a bit and as I wrapped my design studio workshops for the day, I had about an hour to kill before heading in to my marketing lecture. In classic Amara fashion, I thought to myself — Hmm! Ice cream sounds really good right about now. So, I did then what I would pretty much do now. I hopped into my car and decided to go into town and get some!

The drive was not very far. I had made it hundreds of times before. I only had a few months before graduation, and I’d been driving these roads for a little over two years. As I turned the corner, I clicked my blinker and waited for the road to clear. As the cars started thinning out, I made a left turn across the street onto the main drag. The little ice cream shop was only a minute away. The sun was shining bright above. Skies were blue and I was near graduation. And then things abruptly changed.

I remember making the left turn onto the street and suddenly, a car came out of nowhere, and was gunning towards me. I couldn’t maneuver out of the way fast enough. A part of me just froze and screamed. I raised my arms to cover my face and to brace myself for impact. I was terrified that my life would be taken from me so abruptly, over something so innocuous and mundane. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t feel it was my time quite yet.

The white Honda Civic was speeding at me, going about 50mph in a 35mph zone. The entire driver’s side had crushed itself in. I was pretty much trapped in a giant metallic fortune cookie of a vehicle. The door was stuck and between the passenger side and the sunroof I climbed out relatively unscathed. (Or so I thought.) No broken bones, no blood, nothing. Just a damaged car. A ton of people got out of their vehicles and ran to see if we were okay. The dean of the arts and letters department — Mr. Connolly — seemed to recognize me from my work as he rushed by my car to help me to the curb. He told me not to move as he summoned the university police on his cell phone.

All I could think of was calling my father. I whipped out my cell phone and dialed home. My father immediately answered and I told him that I had just gotten into an accident and that I needed him there right away. He arrived in only fifteen minutes. The drive usually takes forty.

I came out of it with some nightmares and physical pain in my neck, shoulders, and back. I went in to the University Health Center a few weeks later and they gave me a cocktail of meds to calm my brain and my muscle spasms. To this day I am still affected by what happened but I seem to be pretty good at distracting myself. And, even though on nights like these — when the pain in my neck is so unbearable that it makes me nauseous just thinking about it — I think back to that afternoon when I was given a new lease on life and suddenly, all of my worries seem miniscule compared to that split second when I thought it’d all be over.

I suppose that is why I approach my work and my life with such fervor. I did before, but that accident is really what catalyzed all of the plans I had ever made for myself. Things could’ve ended so quickly but they didn’t. It was as if the universe was telling me, “memento mori.”

As a side note, after the accident, I was taking some video footage of the accident scene. Right before my eyes the exact same accident almost unfolded itself in front of me. Fortunately the other driver stopped right in time. Check it out. I still can’t believe that I have all of the footage after all of these years.

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8 thoughts on “The Day I Cheated Death”

  1. I am glad that you had a happy ending too. Sometimes the universe has a weird way of throwing us signals and make us more appreciative. Your story with the insurance though…priceless! Wish I was that lucky. đŸ™‚

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