Friday, June 12, 2009

Cheating Death?

Yesterday I read a story online about a woman who luckily missed the ill-fated Flight 447, only to die days later in an automobile accident (see It made me wonder: is it possible to cheat death?

Being of the younger generation, it was necessary to see all three Final Destination movies. Now, these Hollywood-created stories bring the unfortunate characters to meet death in extremely odd and horrifying manners, obviously to up the gore quota for increased ticket purchases. Watching said movies only caused me to hesitate before entering a tanning bed, boarding a plane or riding a roller coaster.

I am a Christian, and I believe the Bible's promise that everyone is appointed a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2), so I've often awakened and wondered "is today my day?" When I'm driving on the interstate to and from work every day (an hour and a half commute) I find myself worrying that some inept driver will cause an accident and BAM - end of me. Having anxiety disorder doesn't help with these thought processes.

Knowing that I have a specific date with death, I also am aware that there have been instances when I should have been in an accident but something or someone delayed me. We got lost. I was running late. Whatever the reason, I missed a tragedy. One example that sticks out in my mind was late one night during college. I was working at Books-A-Million, and left around midnight (as was normal) on my way home. I was speeding, just like I did every night. On this particular night, a State Trooper pulled me over. He let me go with a warning, but we spent about five minutes chatting. I continued on my way, only to come upon an accident. The only person on the scene was an off-duty police officer who had happened along right behind the wreck. I stopped and asked if he needed help. He said that backup was on the way, and then asked what I was doing out so late. I responded and informed him that I had just been stopped by a Trooper only minutes before. "You're lucky then," he said, "because your being pulled over probably saved you from this accident." The weight of his words hung on me for days. Had I really been spared from injury, or worse? I thanked God for His mercy (just in case), and went about my merry way.

I have been told numerous stories by friends and family about how they just missed being in an accident, missed a doomed flight, etc. I read news stories after 9/11 about people who had called in sick to work, or were running late for work, and were spared from certain death. So, if we have an appointed time to die, and we somehow miss it, will death find us later anyway? It found that poor woman.

That thought/fear led to another - If you were supposed to die, let's say by smoke inhalation in a house fire, but somehow you escape, would you only die later in a chainsaw accident that turned out to be much more painful and gruesome? My point is this: if you miss your somewhat peaceful death, would the follow-up attempt be much worse?

I know this is twisted and probably disturbing, but I can't help myself. I think about these things. I guess I worry about my own death more since having children. I worry about Gary trying to raise two girls; I worry that my mother won't be able to handle the loss of another daughter. When these thoughts try to consume me, I find myself praying to God and asking Him to give me more time, to let me watch my children grow up, to have more time with my family. I feel selfish for making such requests, but I can't help it.

I guess the next time I'm somehow spared from death, I will keep a close eye out for faulty wiring and bad drivers....


  1. Awww, honey...every mother has those fears. Some may worry more than others, but we all thought about it at some point. Did I read that correctly, "my mother won't be able to handle the loss of another daughter"? So you lost a sister? Maybe that is why your worry is so intense. Some may worry but may think awwww it'll never happen to me. But maybe you've seen it happen and to someone close to you, making it all too real.

  2. Well, it wasn't really my loss because my mother had a baby before I was born that died shortly after being born. I think she still mourns 27 years later.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who has those worries though. It makes me feel a little less crazy! Thanks.

  3. There's a Harlan Ellison story called (I believe) "The Day I Died," wherein he writes up several short accounts of how he "died"--i.e., how many times he's cheated death. It makes one think about the idea of parallel universes--in a "reality" composed of an infinite number of possible worlds, then every outcome happens on one of those worlds. So we've all "died" millions of times over, just not in this world. Still, it's the thought of death, of our own eventual non-existence, that spurs us to acts of great creativity, from art to childrearing to blogging. Enjoy!