Post 11: Nearly Dying Taught Me To Never Give Up

I just read a beautiful story on Scary Mommy about an amazing mother who taught her daughter the value of “grit and tenacity.”

This woman did what it took to show up at her interview and land the job she wanted.  It reminded me of the time I went in for a job interview the day after I had been in a rollover accident.

On July 31, 2003, I was driving to work on the highway.  I remember what a beautiful morning it was.  Driving on the highway during inclement weather stresses me out, but on that day, everything was perfectly sunny and clear.  There was no rain or fog to slow traffic down, but there was construction.  Morning rush hour traffic ebbed and flowed as four lanes merged into three.

At one point, I came to a complete stop in the left lane.  I glanced up in the rear view mirror and saw a Ford Expedition driving at full speed towards me.  My whole body tensed when I saw the “Oh, shit” expression of the driver talking on his cell phone.  I instinctively grabbed the wheel right before he slammed into me driving over eighty miles an hour.

My Jeep Liberty couldn’t take the impact.  It skidded diagonally across the pavement, slammed into the embankment on my left and started to roll over.  I still don’t know how many times.  Later, the mechanic would tell me that it was definitely more than one time.

What people say about time slowing down when you think you’re about to die is true.  Time slowed down for me.  The Jeep rolled over for what seemed like an eternity.  In reality, it was probably just a few seconds.  Hundreds of images cluttered my mind, before one thought cut through the noise.  I remember thinking about the murder of a young girl I had heard about in the news that morning.  I remember thinking about how afraid she must have been once she knew she was going to die.  I remember thinking how awful it must have been for her to spend the last few seconds of her life filled with such fear.  As the sound of metal crunching on the pavement rang in my ears, the same fear consumed me.  One clear thought surfaced in my mind:  “This is a horrible way to die.”  And then, I’m not sure who or what it was, I heard a response:  “It’s not your time.”

At that moment, the Jeep stopped rolling and landed on its side.  After a few stunned moments, I realized that the engine was still running.  I’m not sure how I did this, but I automatically rolled down the window and turned off the radio and headlights before shutting off the engine.  Then I unbuckled my seat belt and stood up.  I poked my head out of the driver side window and looked around.  Several people had surrounded my vehicle.  The first man to speak to me looked relieved.  He told me to just stay in the car until the paramedics arrived.  I just nodded and looked around.  The owner of the Ford Expedition was close by.  He looked like a kid.  I couldn’t muster much anger because he looked like he was in shock too.  Uninjured, but just as shocked as I was.  He just stared at me with his mouth agape.

The police and ambulance arrived fairly quickly.  When they started talking about the jaws of life, I grew impatient.  I felt fine, so I just decided to crawl out the back window of the Jeep.  It had been shattered in the collision.  I had a blanket in the car that I just put over the broken glass before climbing out the back.  Other than feeling shaken, I thought I was well enough to head to work, but the paramedics insisted on taking me to the ER.  When I asked the ER doctor if I could just go back to work, she looked at me sternly and told me to go home for the week.

When I woke up the next morning, I was in a lot of pain.  The effects of the accident wreaked havoc on my back.  I didn’t know what to do, because it was the day of my interview for a coveted position in Marketing.  I had spent the past year networking for a chance at this job.  The interview alone had been rescheduled three times.  How could I reschedule it again?  There was no way I was going to miss it.  The ER doctor had given me strong pain medication, but I didn’t want to be an incoherent mess in front of the hiring director, so I just took some basic Tylenol before going to the interview.  Needless to say, the director who interviewed me thought I was insane for not rescheduling, but she hired me.

I needed this reminder today.  I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened since I haven’t heard anything from Scary Mommy.  I assume that my fifth submission was rejected.  But I feel better after remembering the lesson I learned from over a decade ago.  It’s the same lesson I want my children to understand.  Never give up.  If it matters, don’t let the obstacle win.  Fight for it.  For the sake of my children, if not my own, I’ll keep on fighting.

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