Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Death Mask

One month after marriage to my lovely bride, Sheila, I came face to face with the grim reaper. It happened one late September evening in Norman, Oklahoma. He walked right up to me, completely unnoticed until the accident he had planned occured in a blink of the eye. In the flash of an instant, I lay helplessly clutching my chest, gasping for air and struggling for my last dying breathe.

Crushed in a moving accident, suffering major internal damage and clinging to my life I fought to regain my thoughts. My ribcage caved under the force of two opposing forces compressing my lungs. Objects in my sight began to fade into the dark shadows of eternity. I knew I was dying as panic over took my mind.

I struggled to my knees, fighting the shocks of pain surging through my body. Suddenly, I got a moment of focus and a surge of power. I doubled my fist, pushed it underneath my ribcage and pulled outward with all my strength.  Air flowed into my lungs bringing life and intense pain in the same gasp.  Each new breathe brought relief and distress. My friends helped me get into their car and we sped away to the hospital.

As I enetered the emergency room and was wisked into the critical care section, I noticed the concerned faces above me and the whirl of the room. I pleaded with a Doctor to tell me I was okay, but, he just returned a wary smile.  Later, I learned that the highway patrol had been summoned to get Sheila and bring her to the hospital.

The corner of the room was dark and sinister as if a presence awaited patiently to collect his trophy.  I tried to look away and chose to focus on the work of the Doctors who had ran to help. Drugs begain to flow through my body and I drifted in and out of conscience most of the night.  My life lingered in the balance.

A good medical team and my will to fight for each moment helped me make it until the morning sunlight broke over the eastern horizon. Through the miracle of medicine, the will to survive and God's grace I was pulled away from death's touch. My beautiful, loving new wife nursed me back to physical health over the next few months. Many more months of living allowed the nightmares to slowy fade and the routine of living to return to normal.

With every crisis comes opportunity. I see every new day as an opportunity to rejoice in the life I have been granted.  My death mask was smashed that September evening. Broken but not completely forgotten.  I don't have bad days, only good ones, because I remember the moment I discovered how important living was to me.  Now, each new morning is a lovely opportunity.