The cops were gentle with the victim’s family, assuring them over and over that their daughter had not realized the impact was coming, and had, in fact, felt nothing. I listened, but could not comprehend. How could they know this was true? How did the girl not feel that moment of death? And how can they equate it to a “twinkling of an eye”?
Well, yesterday I found out that their words are actually true. No, that isn’t my car–for those of you who know me. And I’m not dead, by the grace of God. Apparently He isn’t finished with me yet. But what I didn’t know yesterday, I know today. And what “the twinkling of an eye” meant to me two days ago, has a different meaning now. And if it’s any comfort to you and to anyone you know who has been told that someone “did not feel anything,” they are right. And that should bring great comfort.
I was walking on a treadmill, something I’ve done hundreds of times before. And yes, plenty of times I’ve lost a second where I have to double-step in order to be sure I haven’t gone back too far. Nothing you haven’t done, if you’ve ever been on a treadmill. This is no horror story–it’s just how quickly life can change.
I was at 3.5 mph, finishing the first mile when the person next to me spoke to me, breaking my concentration. I was on the treadmill, walking, one nanno-second, and the next I was on my back, several feet away. I was told that my head impacting the concrete floor was so loud that almost everyone in the gym heard it, as it sounded like a bowling ball had hit the floor. And because I didn’t die, I felt pain. But the result could have been so different, and has been for so many people. Yet the incomprehensible thing to me was that there was no time factor between being on the treadmill and laying on the ground.
Later, in the hospital, I realized what the people who try to give comfort to families of victims actually mean: that the victim really didn’t feel anything, Had I died on impact, I wouldn’t have had any realization of doing so–I just would have been in the next life. One breath in this life, normal, the next breath no longer in this life. That was an amazing truth. And how long did it take? For sure, the “twinkling of an eye.” I don’t ever remember anything in my life happening with such “speed”–and no pun is intended. One breath I’m in one place, the next breath I’m in another. That’s how death will be.
This isn’t meant to be gory, depressing, or yukky. This is a piece of comfort that I can now offer to others who have had a loved one killed instantly, and who have carried a weight that their family member suffered. No, don’t add that weight to your shoulders, you already have enough hurt just from having lost them. But if the cops tell you they didn’t suffer, believe them. They didn’t.
For me, today, there is much suffering. I have a concussion that feels like my head is a beach ball, and turning my eyes hurts. The impact was so hard that rather than a gash, there were “explosions” where the skin erupted in several places, all bleeding with that uncanny way the head has of doing it so much worse than almost any other part of your body. The sound of the staple gun is something that may take a while to forget, but eventually it will fade! My head feels like I’m on a merry-go-round, going 100 mph if I change positions. But I’m alive, and will be fine. That’s a blessing I can’t ignore.
But there’s another lesson as well, of course, and that is that life can end that quickly. What if I hadn’t made my peace with God? When someone stands before Him, will anger, bitterness, unfairness, unbelief be a reason for God to excuse them? No, and you know it full well. And if you don’t believe, will that change things? No, of course not. Because what if you’re wrong? What if there is a God? What if He is holding you responsible? As I’ve said before, there are no parties in hell.
Don’t wait for a nanno-second to separate you from this world before you get things right, ok?
Father, thank You for sparing me yesterday. Thank You for the lesson learned so that others can be comforted about loved ones who were unaware of their transition. Help me make my days useful, please Lord, and not waste my time here. Amen