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Surviving the Most Terrifying Experience of My Life

Garden State Parkway Southbound
Photo by Justin Louis

I truly feel like I am lucky to be alive today. I feel like we throw that saying around in casual conversation when intense situations happen, but today, for the first time in my life, I genuinely believe that I am lucky to be unharmed and alive.

Last night, as I was driving Northbound on the Garden State Parkway, like I do every night, my life could have changed (or possibly ended) in a heartbeat.

The car that was in front of me suddenly swerved from the right lane to the middle lane. He (or she) swerved because there was a car either going incredibly slowly, or stopped, in the right lane. I couldn’t tell you which because, by the time the car in front of me swerved out of the way, I was about to slam into it.

I did what any one of us would have done – I panicked.

I hit my brakes and tried to get out of the way.

Which, of course, is the worst thing you can possibly do. It put me into a full-on, out of control spin.

You know those tips that they give you when you lose control? Well I can tell you that you will immediately forget every single one. Your foot slams on the brakes to try to stop the car, you’re steering in any direction that you can to try to get the spinning to stop, and everything flashes by.

I couldn’t tell you how long it lasted. I’m pretty sure that I spun at least half a dozen times, and the concrete construction barriers passed in front of my face a number of times. Plus, the headlights of the oncoming traffic lit the whole thing up.

It was almost like I was in the spotlight of the most terrifying ballet ever.

The amazing part came when my car came to a rest in the middle of the center lane.

I realized that I hadn’t hit anyone or anything, and nobody had hit me. My car was undamaged and, more miraculously, I was undamaged (at least physically).

A good samaritan pulled up next to me to ask if I was ok (while another driver blasted their horn at me as they passed me…like I did it on purpose just to show off).

After turning my emergency flashers on, I was able to get my car moving and safely pull off of the highway.

When I was able to take a moment to stop and try to absorb what had just happened, it really hit me – I may have just experienced an actual miracle.

I have no idea how this happened without me hitting another car, without another car hitting me, without cars hitting each other in their panics to stop, and how my car didn’t hit the concrete barriers.

There are so many ways that this whole thing could have gone wrong. From cosmetic vehicular damage to, god forbid, a very serious injury or worse. The least likely outcome was the one that actually happened.

I’m most thankful for the other drivers nearby when this happened (well, most of them at least). The drivers behind the scene were all able to slow down and stop, they all kept their distance, and nobody was hurt.

And to whoever the good samaritan was who stopped to ask if I was ok, thank you. I’m sorry if all I could do was nod, but my brain wasn’t exactly processing information in that moment.

Was “someone” watching over me? Was I just lucky? I have no idea, but today I’m a lot more thankful for my health and safety and a lot more aware of how quickly that can be taken away.

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