I always thought I would die before I was 21 years old. In fact, I thought I might die before I was 18. When my 18th birthday approached and passed, I was bewildered that I was still alive. I then presumed I must have made a mistake and 21 was my new expiration date.
I had a near death experience at the beach when I was about 9 years old. I was a very confident and strong swimmer, but I was ignorant of how to respond when caught in a riptide. If it wasn’t for a fast-acting uncle, who was also a trained lifeguard, I might have been swimming with the fishes. Or is the expression, I would have been fish food? After that experience, I had a vision, or more likely a dream, or maybe a waterlogged hallucination of future me dying very young.
I have survived 3 major car crashes. All 3 occured while I was at a standstill. The 1st car accident was a hit-and-run which occurred when I was a teenager. I was waiting at a red signal light and a car speeding down the hill didn’t stop in time and knocked me into the intersection where 2 other cars just barely missed me. The car that hit me, backed up and made a right on the cross street to get away from the scene of the accident.
Once I got my bearings and restarted my car, I chased down the car that hit me in an exhilarating car chase and we were finally able to exchange contact information. As it turns out the driver didn’t have car insurance, but my uninsured motorist policy kicked in. My 1966 Ford Mustang was fully repaired after the accident and it was better than new with a shiny new paint job! My advice, always spring for the Uninsured Motorist Policy.
The 2nd car accident occured on the newly opened 105 freeway while I was on my way to teach a swing dance class near the LAX Airport. I heard and felt something out of the ordinary while driving and thought I might have blown a tire. I safely pulled over to the right shoulder of the freeway to inspect my front tires for damage. While I was looking at my front right tire, I felt a wave of light brush over me and I heard or maybe felt a familiar voice say, “get back in the car and put on your seatbelt.”
I’m not one to argue with preternatural voices and feelings, so I did what I was told and got back into my car. As I was inserting the strap into the buckle, I looked up into my rearview mirror and saw an opalescent white Lexus attempt to illegally speed past a slow moving car by using the left shoulder. The driver realized too late that I was already parked on the shoulder blocking his way and he attempted to swerve back into his lane.
He was traveling too fast to avoid my car and as I was watching the approaching Lexus in my rearview mirror (strangely in what felt like slow motion), I locked eyes with him and I could see the fear in his eyes as he struggled for control of his vehicle. I took a deep breath to relax my body and slipped my car into neutral in preparation for the inevitable collision.
He clipped the rear left corner of my car while veering back into his lane sending my vehicle into a clockwise spin. The front right corner of my car (where I was crouched just moments before while inspecting my tire) crunched into the wall to my right. When the car stopped spinning, I was facing oncoming traffic. Several drivers pulled over to help me out of my vehicle and give me their contact information as witnesses to his erratic driving. My car was totalled, but I was able to walk away from the accident without a scratch.
I called my dance partner, who was driving separately, and she was on the scene within minutes. She was crying as my car was loaded onto the flatbed of the tow truck. We were only a few minutes late to teach our dance class, and our client was totally understanding of the situation. My dance partner drove me to the hospital after dance class and the doctor said the physical movement of dancing was probably the best thing I could have done to help calm my nerves and muscles, but I should take it easy the next few days.
The 3rd accident occured on Friday the 13th of last year. I was waiting at an intersection to make a left turn. As the signal light turned yellow and then red, I started making my left turn and a brand new BMW ran the red light and T-boned my passenger side of my vehicle. When my car stopped spinning, I was covered in glass from shattered passenger window and windshield. I remember thinking that it looked like I was covered in diamonds.
I was meeting a new friend for dinner and I was less than a mile from the restaurant. When I called her, she jokingly said the only excuse for being late was if I was in a car accident. When I told her what happened and she finally believed that I wasn’t joking, she asked where I was and was there within 10 minutes. She thoughtfully showed up with orange juice, some juice smoothies and snacks. She shared them with me and the driver of the other vehicle and said the sugar would help with shock.
She waited with me until the police took our statements and the tow trucks towed our cars away. She then drove me to an amazing Korean Restaurant where we were able to finally enjoy dinner. I’m so thankful for thoughtful friends and because I was able to walk away from another car accident I consider Friday the 13th my lucky day!
I am thankful to be able to journey yet another rotation around the sun. Many more than I ever thought I would be able to. I’m excited to add another candle to my vegan birthday cake and use this borrowed time to bring smiles and joy to everyone I meet.