Lost Moments

How can a person just lose time out of her life? Time she can’t account for? It can’t be possible. There has to be some logical explanation, temporary amnesia, sleep, a deep trance, self-hypnosis, epilepsy? However, none of those answers have ever felt right.

I lost some moments one night back in late winter of 1989. It’s always been a disturbing episode out of my life that leaves me sleepless sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s provoked me to consult with a UFO research team, to read stories about alien abductions, to seriously listen to people who claim they’ve had out of body experiences, or near death experiences. When somebody claims they’ve seen a space ship or a UFO, I don’t discount it. When stories reemerge about Area 51 in 1990 in Nevada, I think about my lost moments and I wonder what really happened to me.

I was teaching K-12 music at Twin Cedars-Bussey at the time. There had been a music boosters meeting that evening, and I had stayed late for it, so I was heading home after dark, around 8:30 in the evening. I had made the trip so many times, I suppose I did think I could drive it in my sleep, but I’d never tried to do that before. I was also tired, but I don’t think I was sleepy. The stretch of highway I was on climbed up and down rolling Iowa prairie as straight as a crow flies for twenty miles before taking a slight curve to the east after a railroad track crossing. That slight curve was about two miles long, ending in a stop sign before accessing the four-lane highway to Ottumwa, IA.

That two miles is the time I lost. It’s simply a blank on my radar, a total void. I remember crossing the railroad track, thinking, ‘I’m halfway home’. I don’t remember another thing until I saw the stop sign through the windshield of my car, immediately to my right, a few moments later. I looked at my speedometer and I was doing 65 mph. I was a heartbeat away from a four-lane highway crossing traveling at a high rate of speed with no clear view of any oncoming traffic.

I remember three things. I started to step on my brakes then vetoed that idea. There wasn’t going to be time to stop. I prayed, ‘Dear God, please don’t let me kill anyone!’ and I stepped on the accelerator. For a fleeting second, I thought it was going to be okay, and then I saw the sedan in the far lane of the highway, making a right turn onto the gravel road in front of me.

I veered to the left to miss it and felt my tires sliding on gravel. I slid only a few feet when my Ford Escort hit the west ditch. As soon as my tires left the gravel, I felt the car start to roll. I remember thinking, ‘Thank God, I didn’t hit the car.’ I expected it to be my last conscious thought before I rolled end over end into the trees, but then I was catapulted back towards the road by… I don’t know what. All I remember is that the car felt like it was in a giant sling shot.

Whatever propelled me back towards the gravel road, I was now struggling to regain control of the steering wheel of the car. My car was astride a snow drift that had been plowed along the west edge of the road. While I was riding that packed snow at a high rate of speed when I first hit it, as I straddled it for almost half a block down the road, the under-carriage of my car was dragging on that foot high mound of snow, and it was gradually slowing me down.

When I finally came to a stop, I had veered back onto the gravel road in the dark. I was on the wrong side of the road, but I was still in one piece. I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ and I tore open the driver’s door and ran back down the gravel to where the sedan had come to a halt, the driver, a woman, standing with the driver’s door open as if undecided about what she should do now.

I ran towards her, shouting, “Are you okay?” I realized I was shaking violently. I took a deep breath, but I couldn’t seem to stop.

She seemed sort of dazed as I came to a standstill in front of her, gasping for breath. “Are you okay?” she asked me, and I nodded my head.

“I think I’m fine, but I can’t seem to stop shaking,” I told her. My teeth felt like they were rattling as I tried to talk. Then I saw what was in the back seat of her car, directly behind where she had just gotten out of the driver’s seat. A baby! A baby girl, judging from the fluffy pink hat and frilly pink coat, maybe eight or nine months old, chewing on her fingers while she smiled at me.

I just lost it, sobbing uncontrollably. “Oh-my-God!” I gasped. “I would have hit you both broadside!” My shaking seemed to increase ten-fold. “I’m so sorry!”

“What happened?” the woman asked me.

“I don’t know,” I replied, taking a moment now to try to think back over the events leading up to the stop sign. “I remember crossing the railroad tracks, and then I saw the stop sign, and I was doing 65…”

“Sounds like you fell asleep at the wheel of the car,” she responded.

“If that’s what happened, how did I make it around that curve without leaving the road before I ever got to the stop sign?” I asked her. I was shaking my head. It just didn’t make any sense.

“Do you have seizures?” the woman asked, and I gave a negative shake of my head.

“No, I’ve never had a seizure in my life that I know of.” I was still shaking like I had a chill bone deep, although, truthfully, I wasn’t feeling any cold. I was almost ‘burning up’ hot. “I’m so sorry about what happened, and I’m so grateful you and your baby are okay,” I told her.

“We’re fine,” the lady said, “but maybe you need to go to a hospital and get checked out.”

I told her thanks for her concern, but declined her offer. After she left, I looked at my car, and realized the back passenger side fender and bumper had received some damage. I looked back at the ditch to see what I could have hit, but I couldn’t really see anything in the dark. I did a Y-turn in the dark there on the gravel road, pulled back up to the stop sign, then took a left turn east towards Ottumwa on the four-lane and wished the shaking would stop.

It finally did an hour or so later, when I had reached home and attempted to tell the story to my husband. We both agreed I didn’t really need an ER, and I went to bed, hoping to sleep it all off. However, in the dark, I relived it over and over, the stop sign, the rolling car, then the giant sling shot that put me back on the road, the woman, the baby in the back seat of the car.

What happened in those moments from the railroad tracks to the stop sign? If I was unconscious or asleep, if I had had a seizure, I should have veered off the road. I didn’t feel drowsy or sleepy when awareness returned. What was the giant sling shot that catapulted me back onto the gravel road? I’ve been back there to that intersection in daylight hours. I’ve stood there looking at the stop sign, the ditch, the gravel road where I slid towards the ditch at 65 mph plus. There are no easy answers.

Two weeks earlier a half mile down the highway, I had come upon an early morning wreck, a teenaged boy had left the highway at a high rate of speed, rolled his car three times across a corn field, and had died, either instantly or within a few minutes of coming to a halt out there in the field.

A week earlier, one of my dear friends had lost her teenaged daughter within a mile of where my accident occurred, crossing a bridge in the middle of the night. Both of these victims were gone and I had survived. It made no sense.

If there is a God, and I believe there must be, maybe he spared me because my first thought was for others rather than myself that night. Truthfully, I can think of no other reason why that woman, her baby and I are still alive.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *