Sunday, January 11, 2015

Blessings in Disguise: My Own Near Death and Trauma PART 1

You know it is bad when your husband suggests you have PTSD.  Like when he says, "PTSD is not just for military, you know."  And when his suggestion that I have PTSD is completely unrelated to this traumatic blog post! When the topic of PTSD came up, it was close to the anniversary of my grandmother's death in a fire in my house during which my two sisters and I were the only ones home at the time and I was the last person to see my grandmother alive.  Oh, and I was 13 years old at the time.

So yes, as I creep a little further into my 40s, I have come to the realization that I could indeed have PTSD for many reasons. 

I am grateful to my husband for being open and honest with me.  After all, isn't that what part of the definition of marriage is?  Being there for one another, building each other up, supporting one another.  That is what he was doing when he made the comment to me about PTSD.   

I am truly glad that he is not afraid to say things to me that may be hard to hear.  

Who hasn't had trauma in their life?  We all survived the trip through the birth canal, right?!  Come to think of it, that must be a pretty traumatic experience in itself.  In fact, I do believe that is probably the first repressed traumatic memory that we ALL have.  

Whether experiencing trauma leads to an actual PTSD diagnosis is another story, though.  While I treat it with some levity here, I am aware it is a serious diagnosis.

I remember giving birth to Emmett, my firstborn, at home.  I was in the throws of labor, completely horrified at the pain.  I was thinking, this cannot be normal.  Something is terribly wrong!  The whole time I was pregnant with him, I coached myself by thinking that if I survived the pain of my multiple trauma car accident, I could handle the pain of childbirth. 

I was wrong.

Childbirth made my car accident look like a trip to the spa.  WOW!  So then I started thinking, if this is hard for ME, what about my unborn baby who is about make the trip of a lifetime?  I HAVE to get it together and get him outta there.  At that moment, I felt him in there.  I actually FELT him kicking.  FREAKY!!!  That is all I can say.  FREEEAAAKY.  BUT, I realized at that moment, I had to help him out.  It wasn't about me.  

SOOO, I have told Emmett this, too.  It was the first time we actually worked together.  I relaxed enough to push him out and he simultaneously pushed himself out into the world where we could all meet him face to face.  We worked together.  It was exactly like he was in there trying to get my attention and asking me for help!  His birth, as well as the two after, were the most beautiful experiences and happiest moments of my life.  

At this point, I am now thinking that if you didn't have PTSD, you may  have it now just from reading this snippet from Emmett's birth story. 

By all means, if you do, then do NOT read on.  Close out this window and pretend you were never here.  My brain can be a scary place.  Yup, blogging is perfect for me.

Since you are still here, let's get to the topic at hand...

the actual car accident that I referred to above. 

Another traumatic memory for the books....

January 11, 1999   Around 3:00 pm  (very close to the hour of Divine Mercy) 

Sixteen years ago today, I was in a severe car accident with a friend of mine.  I was the driver and he was the passenger.  I was making a left turn out of a parking lot during a snowstorm.  The last words I remember were spoken by my passenger..."You might want to edge out a bit."  I couldn't see well over the snowbank and the road curved around to the left, anyway.  I edged out and went over what was like a curb and I ended up way further into the road than anticipated.  The last thing I remember was a car coming, a BIG car.  

The next thing I remember was my passenger slapping my face trying trying to wake me up.  "Lorraine, wake up!  Wake up!"  Then a bit of jarring around from the slapping.  

Then NOTHING.  

Now I hesitate.  This is the part that I have not told many people about.  I have not told this story very many times.  It is so personal and so "other worldly" that it is hard to put into words.  Yet, it is a part of this story that has shaped and formed my beliefs about God, what happens after you die, where our deceased loved ones are and what the whole point of life is in general.  

I don't share this story in order to boost my blog posts, in order for people to feel sorry for me, or in order to sensationalize or dramatize anything.  I share it because it is real.  It really happened and it is a part of me and who I have become.  It is beautiful and spiritual.  It is joyful and peaceful.   It is time that was for me.   A time that was not IN time.  A time where I left time and then slowly entered back into it.  

It was when I saw my mother smile and I saw Jesus on the cross.  And then I felt the snow falling on my face and I was cold.  I was still alive.  I was here.  

For roughly 45 minutes, I was pinned in the car.  I was T-boned right smack in the driver's side door.  My seat belt and the door pinned me in and the emergency workers and fire department had to turn my Oldsmobile into a convertible in order to lift me out the top.

You can see my head there in front of that backboard.  This info in the caption is so wrong.  I was treated and released, yes, but I was transferred to Allegheny General in Pittsburgh because my injuries were so bad that they couldn't handle my case at  Trinity West in Steubenville.  The paramedic looking on with no coat on and the hat was my guardian angel that day.  He was the one who sat next to me in the car while they tried to get me out and who rode in the ambulance with me during the hospital transfer.  

Picture of my car at the lot where it saw while I was in the hospital.


I was unconscious during this time.  This is when I saw the light (oh my gosh, that sounds ridiculous, but it is true).  It was complete peace, quiet, warmth and calm.  I saw my mother's face.  My mother died when I was 19.  I was 25 at the time of the accident.  My mother was smiling.  As soon I saw my mother, I knew I was not alive because she had already passed.  However, I knew I was not dead because I was actually THINKING.  The only way to use words to describe it is that I was in between.  I must have had so much hurt and pain from my losing my mother because when I saw her face, I wanted to go to where she was.   I was ready to be done.  I was, for lack of better words, being pulled toward her.  If you can imagine, off to the left.  The reason she was smiling was because she UNDERSTOOD.  She understood everything.  Her smile told me that.  She was also smiling in a reassuring way, as if to say, "It is going to be ok."  "You are not done yet."  "It is not your time." 

To me, this is the most beautiful thing.  I have always heard that when you are near death, what better time for God to send your loved ones to be near you and to comfort you?  And here it was, actually happening to me.  I have, since my mother's passing, learned about the veil.  Passing to the next life is not like breaking through a wall.  We can think of it as  more like veil that separates us from the dead. The veil was lifted for me that day in the car.  That is how I saw my mother's face.

Now, if it is not my time, then I am about to SUFFER.  I mean, if I am even having this experience, then something must have gone completely wrong.  Now, imagine the pulling toward my mother subsiding and now direction (again, for lack of better term) pulls my focus to the right.  Or, if you will, the veil is lowering.  I wonder how will I deal?  If I am not "done", then what is going to happen to me?  Now, I realize the only way is that I must pray in order to deal with this.  This is when I think of Jesus and the focus shifts to Him on the cross.  His face is leaning a bit to the side.  His arms outstretched.  I realize that He is there.  Sigh.  Relief.  Calm.  I try to formulate a prayer.

The light fades.  I begin to feel physical sensations.  I feel the snow falling on my face.  I absolutely know I am not dead because I can now see the BP gas station sign and see the snow falling.  I hear voices.  I feel my body being jarred.  I am cold.  I hear cheering and clapping.  What is it?  The emergency workers are happy to have freed me from my car.  What they didn't know was that for me that car was the place where I looked death in the eye.  The place where I was spared my life,  The place where I saw beyond.

They say near death experiences are not all flat-lining on a table in a hospital.  I may not have flat lined, but I was far gone enough from this life to know there is another place.  I was given a gift. 

And I am not keeping it to myself anymore.  I am sharing with you.  Especially, I am sharing it here so my children can read about it one day.  I want them to know how happy I am to have them and to have had a family of my own.  I am happy to have stayed here long enough to find out my purpose.  To find out why I made it throught that accident.  

As I reflect and research today on this experience I had 16 years ago, I just pulled the book out of the attic that I read during my recovery during the holy season of lent back in 1999, leading up to Easter.  About 2 months after the accident, I was in my room doing some spiritual reading about the our Lord's passion.  The book is called The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Luisa Piccarreta.  I looked at the picture on the front of the book and I was overcome.  It is the exact image of Jesus that I saw that day.  His face leaning to the side and the crown of thorns on His head.  

                                                           

I had this book stored away because in the years since, I had heard that the writings of this mystic of the Church were deemed questionable.  However, I just read about her HERE and in 1993 (the year my mother died), her cause for sainthood was reopened by the one and only Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (currently Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).  How interesting!  

Up until that morning of my accident, my big and roomy Oldsmobile was not running.  I was, instead, driving my roommate's tiny red sports car.  If my car did not start that morning, I would be for sure have died.  In fact, a couple of my friends came to visit me after I got out of the hospital.  They told me they just had to see me.  They had to see for themselves.  That same day as my accident, there was another one, as well.  The driver, one of their friends, was t-boned in the side, just like me.  She didn't survive.  

I remember the paramedics getting me into the ambulance and then proceeding to take scissors and cut my clothes off from the ankle up to the neck.  Nothing like getting jarred back to reality when your clothes are getting cut off of your body.  Especially your favorite jeans and coat. :)  

I don't remember much at the first hospital.

However, I remember very clearly the first thing the doctor said to me after some initial assessment of my injuries.  He said, "The good news is that you will be able to bear children."  

8 comments:

  1. It's amazing to see what a person can endure. Resilience must be one if the most under appreciated gifts God has given us.

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    1. Hi Karen, thanks so much for the comment. Going throught that trauma made me see how much time we need to heal. The immediate injury, whatever it may be, happens so fast. And then recovery can be so long. God is so good that way because I read once that if it happened the other way around, we just couldn't deal with the trauma. It happens fast and then God gives us time to process and heal slowly.

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  2. Lorraine, You have just answered the question I asked you when you were visiting us the other day. I think you will know what I am talking about. Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience with us.

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    1. Thanks again for reading, Eileen. It means a lot to me to be able to share personal experiences with others. :)

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  3. You are so blessed to have been able to survive such a terrible accident. The car looks really hopeless, and it’s really a miracle that you’re alive and well. You must be very thankful for that. I believe you have an important mission to fulfill, that’s why you have been given another life. Treasure every moment together with your loved ones, and continue inspiring people. Thanks for sharing that, Lorraine! All the best to you and your family!

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney NY

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    1. Yes,so blessed and so thankful every day. Every day goes by so fast and it is so important to stop, take things in and be grateful for so many blessings. I appreciate you reading my story. And, by the way, I have reached a milestone with my blog...you are officially the first person to comment on my blog that I actually do NOT know! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Thank goodness that you survived that terrible accident! I could only imagine how traumatic that was for you. Nonetheless, it seems that you are really blessed, despite of what happened back then, and I guess that's what really matters. Thanks for sharing this, Lorraine! Stay positive! :)

    Stephanie Waters @ Chastaine Law

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    1. Thanks so much for reading. Yes, staying positive is the key! It really helps in the trying times, that's for sure.

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