Sunglasses in the supermarket

Updated: May 30, 2019

The night before the car accident I watched the movie "90 minutes in Heaven" based on the book by Don Piper, about his car accident, death and resuscitation. I had to drop my daughter at school the next morning, and as I was parked at the traffic light, a gust of wind shook the lights that dangled from a pole that hung over the traffic.

I thought, "Anything could happen to any of us at any moment. The wind could blow that traffic light off the pole and it could fall through my windscreen and kill me."

It was a strange thought. It felt like a calm acceptance of the transience of this life, but also a premonition to be careful. The light changed to green and I drove under a railway bridge, merging like a zip as the two lanes converged into one. All the while I said the Lord's Prayer in my mind. I slowed down for the next light and as I drew to a halt, I felt an immense impact from behind.

The sound of crunching metal was awful. I thought I had been hit by an industrial lorry. My head shot forward and backwards - perhaps a couple of times - I don't remember. I looked in my rear mirror and saw that I had been rear ended. I felt an incredible sense of peace. Perhaps it was because I had literally been praying when it happened. It felt as if I was in the movie I had watched the night before - and I know my accident was nothing like that of Don Piper's... but there was a feeling of acceptance. A feeling that the Lord was with me. I felt super aware and spiritual in that moment.

A woman got out of the car in front of me and asked me if I was okay. I said, "Yes. But I think I am going to have bad whiplash." Then I got out of the car and walked to the car behind me. The woman had injured her knee on her dashboard. She was visibly shaken and upset. She told me that the car behind had shunted into her. I walked to the car behind her. The front bonnet was smashed in. The man in the car looked disoriented. I started to tell him to drive to the car park across the road so we could all exchange numbers. He said his car was too badly damaged to drive. The efficient woman, from the car in front of me, took charge. She instructed me to get back into the car so that I could remain safe. She was heroic. She managed to call the police, comfort us and halt traffic, while her child sat patiently in the car in front of me.

I was confused and tried to give my police report to a St John's Ambulance driver. The police arrived and interviewed us. It turns out that the perpetrator of the accident had fallen asleep at the wheel. I was surprised that I held no animosity towards him. In fact I felt sorry for him. He was apparently on a suspended license, had no insurance, and had been working a night shift. Even if that was his story - even if he was texting while driving, or under the influence of a substance - I felt no anger towards him.

In the parked ambulance, they took my blood pressure. It was high. But I felt calm. I was starting to feel rather strange, so I decided to get myself to the White Cross straight away. I probably shouldn't have driven. I was there for three hours. I dozed in the waiting room. I felt dazed.