Staring Down Death

In most people’s lives, there comes a moment that we call a near death experience. These are moments where we genuinely believe we are about to or could have died, but didn’t (obviously). Many times, we have a brief new outlook on life where we cherish the little things and became desperate to discover our life’s purpose. Of course, this never lasts very long, but it is a knee jerk reaction to living through these types of experiences. This is the story of how I looked death in the face (kinda) and lived to tell the tale. Now this is the third experience like this I’ve had, and each one has been twice as terrifying as the one before it. In this moment, I wholeheartedly believed my life was about to end, but yet, here I sit, alive to tell the tale. So how did I get here?

My impala, Charlie (named after the quirky and awesome Supernatural character), has been having some issues since April. It started with a grinding noise, which grew into Charlie sounding like a tractor. She also didn’t accelerate or brake very well, was going through gas and oil like crazy, would die when idling too long, didn’t want to start, had lost a driver’s side mirror, began smoking, and smelt like an open field after a firework show. Charlie had a lot of issues. A LOT. I took her in to get fixed when the problems started, like a responsible adult, and they told me she wasn’t worth saving and I should just scrap the car. Now I don’t know about other college kids, but I definably did not have the money for a new car. So, I continued to drive Charlie, and she held on for five more months. Her problems got worse, and I knew the end was coming, but I still didn’t have the money and I was attached to my impala. I defended her when people teased her and often encouraged to keep going, and she did- until she didn’t.

There I was barreling down the highway at 60 miles per hour, on my way back to work from my lunch break. I was halfway there, and had just barely gotten her up to speed when it happened. Everything shut down- the lights, the radio, the power steering, the brakes- everything. Now she’s died before, but only when idling and she always starts back up with a little gas and encouragement. Never when I’m going 60 miles per hour down a busy highway. I thought this was the end. I was going around a curve at the time and now had no steering or brakes. This was it; my life was about to come to a screeching halt. It’s been real world, but I guess I’m out. I’m going to die with my car on this highway. They are going to find me in my work clothes with a half-eaten pizza pocket hanging out of my mouth. The last person I spoke to was my dog, so no one will ever know my last words. My boss is going to be pissed that I never showed up to finish my shift. I spent my last day working and eating a half-frozen pizza pocket, wearing a pair of uncomfortable khakis. Now at this point, most people would have panicked. For some reason, I didn’t, and I am just as surprised as you are. But that’s how you know your life has been a shit show: when you genuinely believe you are about to die, and you aren’t even surprised.

If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now- I survived. I somehow (no idea how) managed to maneuver my rapidly deaccelerating car over to the shoulder as it came to stuttering stop. I threw it into park, because the shifter still apparently worked. Like any normal human, I tried to restart it. The lights flickered on, Charlie made a deep, long hiss, she gave a shake. I had a half second of hope before the tiny bit of life left in her sputtered out. She was gone, and I don’t think there’s anything that can bring her back. I made it back to work (with a little help from my amazing friend, who finds himself rescuing me a lot), walked when I could, begged for rides when I couldn’t, when I finally got a new car (thank you mom!) While I absolutely love the new guy, Aegon (Game of Thrones reference), I will deeply miss Charlie and all of our adventures. She was a good car while she lasted, and even towards the end, got me where I needed to go. She fought valiantly right up until her very last breath. She will forever remain in my heart as a car who holds plenty of wonderful memories.

Now here I sit, binge watching Supernatural in honor of her, alive and well, able to type another post. Sometimes these things happen, and there’s not a whole lot we can do about them. We all have bad luck and we all have days that terrify us. Life is fragile, but that doesn’t mean you need to be. Dig deep to find your inner strength, because you never know when it might come in handy. This situation could have ended a lot worse had I panicked, but I didn’t. I kept my cool (I seriously don’t know how I did it) and prevailed. Keep on being your perfectly imperfect selves, and remind your cars, trucks, bicycles- whatever how much they mean to you, because it sure is tough when they are gone. Enjoy the time you have with them, because you never know when it’s going to be their last ride.


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