Nine Lives

Nine Lives

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“I was either going to be killed instantly … or trapped inside my kid-and-dog lugging transportation.”

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I had quite the afternoon recently. While returning from snowshoeing, I ended up getting into a mash-up with a dump truck while making a right hand turn. It was in that most innocent of actions, something we all do quite successfully multiple times a day, when the massive rig occupying the lane next to me also decided it was time to turn right.

Blind spot

My predicament was my placement, and the truck’s girth. He couldn’t see me. It’s one thing to not to be seen, blind spot almost accidents happen all the time, but when the usual saving grace – the car’s horn – is also not heeded, that’s when things get scary.

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In the seconds I had before impact, more than a few end-of-days scenarios ran through my mind. The impact was about to happen on the driver’s side. With each turn of his wheel, the big rig was going to pancake my dinkie-sized-in-comparison SUV against the equally gigantic snowbank that loomed on the passenger side.

Trapped inside

I was either going to be killed instantly as the truck’s rear wheels drove over my car, or trapped inside my kid-and-dog lugging transportation. I was sandwiched between a truck that didn’t know I was in the world and an unyielding snowbank.

Thoughts of being squat under a tire, or engulfed in flames as my gas tank yielded to the pressure, filled my head. But, I kid you not, what haunted me the most in those few seconds before crunch-time was not the thought of dying instantly, or even being gas-doused and sizzled alive – truth be told I’ve been growing accustomed to that feeling since menopause – but my worst fear was being trapped.

With the steel of the dump truck a wall on one side and the cold ice of the snowplow-chiseded snowbank on the other, I was about to live my worst nightmare.

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Anyone who knows me understands my dislike of all things ‘trappy.’ From claustrophobic neck-lines on sweaters to closed-in elevators that could get stuck between floors or even, God forbid, have a delayed door-opening,  for very personal reasons those things get my breathing and heart-rate all fowled up on the best of days.

Into the deep end

And what was perhaps worse again? Knowing that no one else in the world knew anything was about to happen but me. Between blind-spots and obscuring-views snowbank, no one would bear witness to my last moments. That not being seen or heard panic is a feeling all too familiar.

When I was around six, Dad and some uncles took myself and some cousins swimming at a pool. I was a good swimmer, however, only when I knew I could touch. For some reason, I decided to test my skill and jump into the deep end. Down, down I went until I touched the bottom. But then I couldn’t figure out how to get back up. I could see the back of my father’s head.

My placement at the bottom of the pool was obscured by the pool’s slide, so even though I could see my uncles, they couldn’t see me. My cousins were all out of the pool having lunch. I watched them devour their french fries from the pool’s belly. I screamed to my father silently before blacking out.

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I don’t remember being hauled out by the off-duty life guard who just happened by. I do remember however, how my father made light of the situation and encouraged me to jump right back in. I did just that and never ever had a fear of the water, though I was left with a ‘don’t ever get into a situation where you can’t be seen or heard again’ feeling.

Not that I’ve been able to avoid that, however. I had a motorbike accident, skidding on gravel on a turn, and no one was around. It was near my home and, bleeding profusely from leg injuries, I walked home and into an empty house. In shock, I spent who knows how long mopping my own blood off the floor instead of trying to slow the flow until my sister came home and got our mother.

DANGER: thin ice

Another time I hit black ice on a rural road, spun multiple times, and teetered on the edge of a not-quite frozen-over pond. Pregnant at the time, I somehow figured out how to right both my nerves and the car and, with no one the wiser, continued on my not-quite-as-merry way. It was only later that I noticed the marks on my chest from the steering wheel impact and realized how close to the end I had come.

Funny how in the briefest of seconds all those ‘almosts’ come back. With all the guts I could muster on that frigid Thursday afternoon, I somehow undid my seatbelt, perched like Eddie the Eagle about to make an Olympic for-the-gold-medal ski-jump, and sprinted out of the passenger side as my car was dragged and shredded on one side by the dump truck.

Like a cat with nine lives, I luckily lived to tell yet another tale, and get to add ‘To be continued …’ to the story of my life instead of a much more dramatic and tragic conclusion like The End.

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