I have a friend, who would like me to talk about a car accident I was in, where I could have died but did not, obviously because it was not my time. I am not trying to be vain; there is only one person in my life, who I would love for this person to say,”Yes, that was a bad accident and yes, you were hurt bad.” Everyone else does not need to say anything. It’s OK.
So, here we go.
It was the morning of January 9,1991, and I woke up early. I was sick, come to find out, I had a respiratory infection. It was the week before finals and I wanted to get to the doctor and get better, so I would not have to make them up. I felt too bad to drive and wanted someone to drive me. My dad could not take me because he had a meeting. My mom was a teacher and could not take me, so that left my brother.
I got ready quickly and paced the floor nervously. I just wanted to hurry up and get there; I did not know why. Deep down, I knew I was not going to make it to the doctor that day.
My brother got ready and we headed out the door to get into his Ford Probe, which he had only had for six months, having saved up for it for quite a while. Poor guy.
I opened the door and hesitated before I got in.
Then, I thought, “Why’d I do that? Oh, well.”
The quiet was bothering me and I asked why the radio was not on, seeing that my brother and I both love music and he normally had it on.
“I don’t like to listen to the radio in the morning,” he answered.
“Great,” I thought.
In a little town just South of us, called Mansfield, a man woke up and found that his wife was not in bed. He knew where she was and where the boyfriend lived. They must have known each other pretty well. They both had matching trucks.
He went to the boyfriend’s house and found them in bed together. He was so angry, he said he was going to kill them. Naturally, they ran. They got into the boyfriend’s truck and took off. The husband got into his truck and followed them. He chased them for about fifteen to twenty minutes to Arlington, where we lived and they got off the highway at a two road exit: Kelly Perkins/ Kelly Elliot. They took the first exit, Kelly Perkins.
They raced down the road in the left lane, while followed behind in the right lane. He eventually caught up with them and and rolled down his driver’s side window. He then reached his arm out the window, trying to reach her door, so he could open it and, in our Texas word, “yank” her out of the truck. The couple sped up and ran a red light.
About this time, we were coming up a hill and getting ready to turn onto I-20 W, toward Ft. Worth. My brother was going about 40 mph and the couple in the truck was going about 60 mph. We saw them fly through the intersection, in which we had not reached yet, and I said, “Look at that car!”
Their truck tapped a woman’s car on the side, the street was wet from rain, earlier that morning, and it sent them spinning. I still remember the sound. I was getting ready to turn around in my seat and watch them go spinning past us but before we knew it, the truck was in the middle of the road and heading toward our side of the road. I made a small sound, not really a scream and my brother slammed on the brakes, swerving as hard as he could. We swerved almost off of the road but the truck still slammed into us: their back end hit our front end, pushing the bumper back into the dashboard and the dashboard back toward us. My brother hit his head on the windshield and the dashboard broke his knee where the ligament attaches to the bone. We still have pretty pictures of his hair hanging in the windshield. That is the only time in my life that I have been thankful to be short.
My first reaction was, “Wow, that was a really loud sound. It was so loud it hurt my head.”
I had just been praying really fast that it would not hit us. Right. I kind of knew it was pointless but worth a try in that second.
Next, I felt myself being pulled forward by an incredible force. I was thinking that the force was so strong that not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could pull me that hard. It was 1991 and he was still doing movies.
Suddenly, I realized that I was going to hit the windshield and was terrified that the seat belt would not work and would not be able to stop it. I was imagining all of these little bitty pieces of glass in my face and desperately thinking, “I really don’t want that!”
I only had a second to be afraid of that because when I went forward the seat belt locked. Those things really work! My brain knew that I was being thrown forward hard enough that I should have gone through that windshield. Thank God for seat belts.
I don’t remember at what point but I felt my brain sloshing around inside my head like Jell-o. Yes, I said Jell-o. It wasn’t painful; just weird. I could tell that there was space between my brain and my skull and I did not know that. I always thought is was right up against the skull but I now know that God allows a little room for things like this.
I could measure the space between the two and I thought, “That’s sooo cool!”
At some point the breath was knocked out of me. I think the seat belt knocked it out of me. It saved my life but could have killed me at the same time. I could only inhale and the pain in my head shot down my spine. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, the pressure on it was so strong.
I was aware of the pain in my back and it was terrible! How bad was it? When I was in labor with Anna, I had back labor. When the contractions reached the highest point, I remembered being in that much pain before: on the day of the accident.
Everything was black and there was no light anywhere. I know because I looked in all directions. It was the blackest black I had ever seen. I became aware that I was somewhere: a location not of this world. A feeling of peace came over me. It felt like I had one foot on consciousness and one foot on unconsciousness; one foot on life and one foot on death.
It was black, I was in so much pain; yet, I had this “no cares, no worries” feeling. I had never felt so good before. So calm.
I figured that was what it felt like to be dead. Doctors will tell you that it is something released in your brain when you can’t breathe to make you feel better. You can think whatever you want but I felt like I was somewhere.
I tried to cough to let out the air and that did not work. I also tried to force the air out, like when you are exercising and start to get winded-blowing the air out. That did not work either. I then realized it was not up to me whether I lived or died. My life did not pass before me but I was thinking, “I’m not going to go to the doctor today. I’m not going to go to school today. I’m not going to go to flute choir tomorrow. I’m not going to take my finals. I’m not going to graduate. I’m not going to go to college. I’m not going to get married. I’m not going to have kids. I’m going to die right here, on a street.”
I weighed my options and knew that my back was hurt bad. People have told me that before they got to the hospital they knew their bone was broken. You know your body. I knew I would not be well in three or six months. I knew I would be in a lot of pain for a long time. On the other hand, I had this wonderful feeling of peace. I could die and keep feeling this feeling and no longer feel the pain. It did not take very long for me to make the decision. I wanted the easy way out.
“If only my parents could feel this, they would be so happy for me!” I thought.
I could feel that my mouth was wide open and I was clutching my chest. “I hope I don’t freeze like this,” I thought. “My parents would think I died in agony. They would not know that I felt so good at the same time.”
“OK,” I said. “I’ve made my decision. Somebody come get me because I don’t know where to go.”
“Well, don’t just leave me here. I don’t like it here.”
Seems like there was a few seconds that I don’t remember but after that, I heard my brother call my name and ask me if I was OK. I still couldn’t see anything and did not want to tell him “no”. A couple of seconds later, I could feel the pressure lifting off of my chest and the pain dropped several levels. I was able to see. My brother asked me again if I was OK and I continued to feel the pressure lifting off of my chest. I also heard this noise, almost like a whistle, rising in my chest. It seemed pretty loud. It came up my throat and then, I was able to breathe.
I asked my brother later if my eyes were closed and he told me that they were open wide and my mouth was open about as wide as it would go.
So, it was not because my eyes were closed that it was dark. I have heard that you lose your sight when your oxygen is cut off and I dare say that my oxygen was cut off.
I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed when I realized I was going to live. I did want the easy way out.
The scene in the middle of the street was interesting, to say the least. The husband was stupid enough to stop at the scene and they were all three standing in the street, screaming at each other.
The episode at the hospital was ridiculous, too. Note: if you are ever in Arlington, Texas and need to go to the hospital, and they want to take you to Arlington Memorial Hospital, run. Run as fast as you can. If you can’t run, beg them to take you somewhere else if you value your life.
Don’t just take my word for it: besides mine, I have heard all kinds of stories about things that went wrong at this hospital. It’s no wonder that a cemetery sits across the street from it. 🙂