[Trigger warnings for car accident, miscarriage. Please pass on this post if you need to, I won’t mind. There is a positive light at the end of it though].
David’s wake is tonight.
Fortunately, my two younger daughters have had science projects due today, so aside from Monday, I have had plenty to keep me busy. The girls had a snow day yesterday too, so we were all home together, which was really nice, though we had to leave the house to get more glue to attach things to their poster boards. We had a craZy trip through crappy snow-covered streets to find doNuTz, I had to shovel my driveway entrance for 30 minutes just to get back in the driveway after the snowplows came through.
But I’m sleep deprived. And I have time to think about his tragic car accident. And other related memories.
I’d wondered what he might have felt in his last moments…prior to impact…trapped in the car…and just moments before his death. Okay, I’m thinking a little morbidly, but not completely morbidly. There are reasons I want to process this line of thought and they really aren’t all that bad.
In January 7, 2001, my husband and I had been in what could have been a deadly car accident. We were driving home on the highway from a hockey game and there was some snow and ice on the road. Yes, my husband was drinking at the game, too. No, probably not smart to let him drive, but we did. The guy behind us was being a jerk, driving on our tail. Which scared me because my husband used to have a ‘road ragey’ kind of impulse when it came to other drivers being jerks. I told my husband to let him pass, and then I tried scribbling down his license plate (not something I normally do, but felt compelled to this time) and I looked at the other driver as he did.
The other driver looked absolutely maniacal. At some point the guy pulled in front of us, then hit his brakes. My husband had no choice but to swerve. Then we hit an icy patch and we spun out…hitting the median strip, which, I think if I remember correctly, had snow from the snow plows up against it.
For me, everything went so fast.
When I realized we were out of control and there was no way for me to do anything, I started yelling my husband’s name – as if he’d be able to do anything just because I was yelling.
For my husband, everything went in so slow-motion.
I’ve always wondered about the perceptual differences to the very same event. What made time for him slow down? What made time for me speed up? The fact he was driving and I was a passenger? The fact that he processes things more slowly than I do under normal circumstances? Some sort of biological adaptation that the hunter types developed over time for survival purposes?
It makes me wonder how it was for David, in those last moments.
When we hit the snowbank and stopped, we gratefully realized we were still alive, but badly shaken. We didn’t hit anyone else, we didn’t get hit either. My husband was so shaken he could barely drive…but I regained my bearings enough and I talked him through getting us off the highway.
We stopped and called 911 and then the officer came out and took our report, which was not really helpful because I only got a partial license plate and my description wasn’t the best anyway. I think I remember at some point, shivering in the car. It was cold, but I know it was more than that. It was what the animals do when they have a narrow escape from their predators.
Because I was more functionally okay, I drove us to went to the hospital – even though I wasn’t obviously hurt – because I was 9 weeks pregnant and I needed reassurance that the baby was okay. When we got to the hospital, and was in the waiting room, I was in a surreal state – kind of wary and afraid and in a weird headspace. I felt if I sat down to rest, I was going to die right then and there. So I kept pacing about…praying that I or the baby would not die. No, there was no medical reason to die. I had no obvious injuries. The baby was too small to have been affected by the accident. It was just a bizarre and fearful sense of foreboding. I’m pretty sure it was simply the mental aftereffects of the stress of the situation. They took my bp which was 130 over something (don’t remember). I just know that while that’s not out of the normal range…most of the time the top value rangers from 100-110 for me. They did an ultrasound on the baby. Heart was still beating…so that was great news.
A week later, I started bleeding and it didn’t stop. We lost the baby and I had to have a DNC, though I was told it was unrelated to the accident (I couldn’t quite believe them). It was devastatingly hard, but then I got pregnant again 3 months later and we just celebrated her 12th birthday.
This was our experience with the real life car accident and I would have assumed David had one of our experiences – either time sped up, or time slowed down. Maybe his entire life flashed before his eyes in those last moments. Maybe either way, he was incredibly, incredibly scared. I don’t know for sure.
But…the weirder thing that I wonder about is related to something that happened during a dream I had a few months ago.
About a car accident.
That I ‘made’ happen in the dream.
I thought the dream was strange and yet so wonderful given my own car accident and I even thought it important and interesting enough to blog about it.
I was driving in my car, then speeding, with the intention of driving straight into the wall of an overpass on the highway for some reason. It was something I really, really wanted to do. I should have died on impact, but I don’t (or maybe I did, but my expectations of what happens when you die didn’t happen).
Instead I feel I an ‘expanding and exploding’ sensation. I feel it mostly in my head – this intense rush of…well, ecstasy…I think. It started off small and it crescendoed into a luminous and exploding feeling of incredible joy and well-being. My body in the car and the car itself in the meantime just simply dissolves away.
And I just felt such joy and ecstasy.
I don’t know what David’s actual experience was during his car accident, but I wonder about where his spirit is now.
I wonder if he’s feeling joy and ecstasy to be free of his fleshly body, free of the mortal problems and pains.
I marvel at this dream.
It contradicts everything I know about the transition from life to death. It contradicts my experience and my husband’s experience of our car accident. It contradicts people’s standard dreams about car crashes. I even wrote a post about existential depression and death anxiety and this dream even contradicts some of my own fears about dying. As long as I remember this dream, I won’t have to rely on “thought experiments” to allay any of my own fears about death.
While this post has gone on long enough, one of the things I would like to think and write about more is the idea that maybe all the fears and anxieties we have surrounding death aren’t founded in reality. I mean “real” reality, not the one our Ego constructs for us. I mean, sure, the body may experience pain, and quite a lot of it, at the threshold of death, but maybe the consciousness truly doesn’t feel pain. Maybe the consciousness isn’t designed to feel pain, but utterly overwhelming joy and ecstasy because it’s free of the body and the Ego.
I don’t know.
But the strangeness of all these events, both in the waking world and the dream world seem to provide me with a lot of fascinating things to wonder about.