The following essay was recognized and awarded for ranking #58 in Personal Memoir/Essay out of 19,000 entries, Writer’s Digest Annual Competition. (2001) Modified, July/2015
I wrote this some years ago…but I thought you might enjoy reading it today. One night when I was driving home from a babysitting job, I lost control of my car and crashed over a bridge into water some 30 to 40 feet below. With no street lights around, I was surrounded by total darkness. This moment in April, 1986 changed my life…for the rest of my life.
A Bridge Between Two Worlds
My eyes flew open. I frantically reached for the handle to roll down the car window as the vehicle flooded with muddy water. I didn’t realize that every window in the car had shattered upon impact. Splinters of glass covered by head and I could feel tiny, sharp slivers of glass protruding from my face. Sand swirled around my eyes causing them to sting and burn. I hung upside down, my legs pinned under the steering wheel. The car had flipped as it went over the side of the bridge. Suddenly, I realized there was no way out. I was overwhelmed with despair and sadness as I realized that I wasn’t going to live even though I struggled, suffocating before my lungs filled with water.
Flashes of light darted in and out of my mind. Scenes of my childhood zipped through my mind like a movie reel. Scenes from my childhood days until the age of fourteen. Then suddenly it ceased. My body began to feel limp and lifeless as life quickly evaporated. It felt much like the physical sensation of fainting as my soul was sucked from my body. A vacuum pulling the spirit away into another realm. A realm where I floated as if by magic. I stood suspended above the vehicle and stared at the once shiny, new Oldsmobile upside down in a deep, muddy creek some forty feet below the old farm bridge.
The night sky was black except for a bright, shining full moon until suddenly a massive light burst forth surrounding me. The light consumed me and forced me to close my eyes for a moment. I stood bathed in the light, void of any earthly clothes or possessions. It was an indescribable canvas before me. A pathway painted with light. The light was pure love, but it was a love beyond any earthly experience. It was the love of a mother for her child multiple times over. It was an unconditional love, with no expectations or assumptions. As I stood paralyzed by its glory, I became confused for a moment. Moments were seconds or milliseconds in the time scheme of things. I turned and looked back at the car in the creek. I thought about my loved ones and wondered if it was really meant for me to die at the young age of sixteen. Something urged me to return. There was something that I had not accomplished.
I was stunned by a loud but warm, male voice that echoed around me instructing me to “just walk toward the light”. I swung back around and faced the light. The voice repeated the instructions again. “Just walk toward the light.” It was so tempting. The love and peace in the light was so great, I yearned to know more. And then just as quickly as the voice spoke, the light disappeared. In a flash, I was back in my body fighting to hold my breath for just a few seconds longer.
I felt my legs sliding free from the steering column. I floated on my right side away from the driver’s seat. The headrest and roof of the car had caved in locking me in a near death position, but at that moment I miraculously floated through an opening in one of the windows. I opened my eyes and saw a light beaming into the water as I neared the top, aching for a breath of air. The water splashed as I surfaced and I gasped and coughed taking in large gulps of air. I sobbed and stared at the moon in bewilderment as I began to swim toward the creek’s edge. My shoulder ached as I realized that it might be dislocated.
The creek bank now posed another challenge since it was more than 30 feet high and was nothing more than red, clay dirt. There was not any handy tree branches or roots growing out of the side of the embankment for me to grab hold of. I dug my fingers into the mud pulling my 128 pound body up the steep incline. My fingernails peeled and bled as I pulled myself to safety. The red clay hid the blood trickling down my hands, but it could not disguise the pain as my fingernails ripped and tore with each struggle. After finally reaching the top of the bank, I lay in the farm field and grieved. The top of my thighs throbbed with pain. I massaged my legs beneath the wet jeans and felt the ten inch long welts from the blow to the steering column.
I slowly stood up and began my half-mile walk back to a fellow church member’s house. I was once again surrounded by darkness since there were no lights on the country road, and the only company that I had was the sound of barking dogs in the distance. I stumbled into the yard and limped up the porch steps. I knocked on the door. Martha opened the door and gasped upon seeing my blood stained face and my sweater ripped to shreds from tree branches that penetrated the car windows as it crashed into the creek. Martha refused to give me a mirror until my insistent begging finally convinced her that I needed to examine my mouth. I placed the mirror in front of me and opened my mouth to remove the remnants of muddy leaves and a leech that had attached itself to the inside of my bottom lip. A few hours later after a trip to the hospital, I fought sleep as I battled the sound of sand swirling around my ears during the crash. And attachments unlike the leech had already began moving in.
It wasn’t until several years after my accident that I discovered the impact near death experiences have on people like me. I was doing some research on psychic phenomena, a subject I’ve studied for many years, when I learned that survivors of these experiences typically report an increase in psychic abilities. I was shocked and relieved to learn of this new revelation since I seemed to have an increase in what I called “weird” insights. These insights came to me over the years with increasing regularity, sometimes on a daily basis. Although I have always thought of myself as being in tune with the supernatural, it wasn’t until this accident that I seriously began to question what happened that night.
Over the years I have learned through frequent research trips to the local library and through conversations with like-minded people, that the soul we possess, capable of travel to another dimension, is simply an energy field. This same energy field is known as an aura composed of bright light surrounding our bodies in hues of the primary colors. It is capable of picking up both positive and negative vibrations in the physical world, as well as the spiritual world. According to this research, I must have inherited a heightened sense of awareness while I was near death.
There have been times when I have physically felt the aftermath of premonitions. One day while sitting at work, I suddenly felt a crushing blow to my head and chest area. Having sensed for several days that something dreadful was imminent, I realized the crushing sensation must be from a near future accident. Approximately three weeks later, I was involved in a serious car wreck that left me with cuts and bruises to my head and airbag burns to my wrists. The car was totaled.
How do I view this uncanny talent? At times, I am not sure. It is certainly frightening and unnerving from time to time. On the other hand, it’s a blessing. I have experienced so many insights that there are too many to mention here. Are all premonitions only meant to serve as warnings? I don’t think so.
That bridge changed my life in several ways, but most importantly it changed my perception of what life really is. It solidified my belief in a hereafter. It also brought with it a realization of the treasures that surround me everyday in the physical world. I am no longer scared or ignorant of the unexplained. Nor am I critical of those who trust me enough to share their own extraordinary experiences.
Over the years, I have learned to accept a heightened sense of awareness. I have learned to give in to life’s promptings and follow the yellow brick road. Although there have been times when I wasn’t sure where that road would take me, I developed a soulful peace that I can thank the Light for while I was on that bridge. For it is when we ignore that nagging feeling, that the real doom prevails. Sometimes it is not always a warning that we must heed, but a message we should grasp, or a path we should follow.