Some things just stick. The date was May 6, 2000, and my then husband and I had spent the day frolicking in Madison, Wisconsin, where we were living at the time. On the way home, he asked me one question that would change my life.
“Do we have any beer?”
I hoped he had left the “good beer” alone, but once we got home I found that not only was his 12 pack of Coors gone, but my six pack of Blackened Voodoo was gone, too. I felt a combination of anger and relief. Somewhere in my spirit I could feel things shifting, and after 14 years of living with an alcoholic spouse, I was exhausted.
“I’m heading to the liquor store.” I said with frustration. “Do you want me to go with you?” he asked. “No. I need to be alone.” I said, as I got in my red sports car and drove off.
The night was memorable — crystal clear, balmy spring night with stars sparkling brightly. As I drove just a mile from our house, I questioned how long I could possibly stand to be in partnership like this. It was painful.
Grabbing a six-pack of “good beer” from the store, I headed back to my car and put it on the passenger side floor. Making my way back home, I mused at the stunning night. The clear sky was palpable.
As I neared the intersection, a police car crossed in front of me and I checked my speedometer — 32 miles per hour with a speed limit of 35. Whew! Continuing toward the intersection, the green light welcomed me to pass through, while at the same time, Great Spirit was about to throw in a twist.
As I neared the middle of the intersection, an old Buick LeSabre came barreling through and turned in front of my car. My eyes connected deeply with the spirit of the other young, female driver, and I had one thought: “I’m going to die.”
Time slowed to an inexplicable stillness, as a fast flip of my entire life flashed before my eyes, and peace washed over my entire being. The sound of smashing glass and crunching metal filled my ears, and my body felt completely numb.
My car came to a halt in the middle of the intersection, and my spirit came to a halt about three feet above my body. Looking down, I saw myself from outside of my car, as I reached over to the passenger side to see if my husband was okay. Then I remembered I was alone in the car. I felt confused.
How could I be outside of the car and inside of the car at the same time? Where am I? Did I just die?
Time slowed as my body, mind and spirit tried to figure out what was next. Smelling a caustic smell, I began to cough as I patted my body to see if I was still in it. I quickly leapt out of the car and looked back at the wreckage. I stood alone in the middle of the intersection, with a stunned look on my face.
Within moments, the cop (who had just gone through the intersection) was asking me if I was okay.
“I think so,” I replied. But I felt different. Something had shifted inside of me, and outside of me, but I didn’t know what yet. “Call my husband.” But I couldn’t remember my phone number.
The doctors told me that low-impact accidents could be far more harmful than high impact. With low impact, the body gets thrown around but nothing breaks, bursts or dies. For me, there was a part of me that died that day — the wife who was living with an alcoholic husband.
Things haven’t been the same for me since that night. My spiritual practices have blossomed, and I have come to realize and understand that I am just a small part of what really happens around me. I was given another chance, and with that, I chose life.
My marriage dissolved a few months after the accident, and he and I were able to maintain a sweet friendship for over 30 years. He died unexpectedly last spring.
There are times when I stop to remember that night. Although the memories have faded a bit, what remains is the gratitude for the experience.
I have looked death in the face more than once since that night, and because of that, I am able to look fear in the face with every breath I take. I am alive.