The Moment Of

I remember the day the police officers showed up at my parents’ house four years ago, their faces and mannerisms composed, practiced. Very clearly, as though it were yesterday, I can evoke the emotions I felt that day when I found out that my older sister—my best friend—had been killed in a car accident. But, you must know, that’s not what sticks out to me now. That’s not what I really remember.
It’s just a few sentences that the male officer said. It’s sort of silly to think about now, but that is what plays over in my head like a broken record during the moment of.
He said, “She would have died instantly. There would’ve been hardly any suffering.”
What a lie. What a big, fat lie.
The moment of is precisely what it sounds like—it’s the moment of my death. Well, if I’m being precise, it’s not just the moment of, but the final moments. But I digress.
I was just eight minutes from getting home. It was my very first day at community college. You would think that Death would have chosen another day for me, wouldn’t you? No. It wouldn’t. So there I was, listening to a playlist with a lot of All Time Low and Fall Out Boy songs, waiting for the light to turn green. When it did, I went forward. No reason to think that anything was wrong, correct?
No reason at all.
Out of the corner of my peripheral vision, I saw a speeding red truck coming for me. It came towards me quickly, so quickly I hardly had time to wrap my mind around the fact that I was going to be in a car accident.
And then . . . collision. Then, the moment of.
The moment of is the longest period of time that I have ever experienced. It seems to last for an eternity within itself as my brain takes in all the information and rapidly computes what is happening. I wish it wouldn’t do so. But, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that things hardly ever happen the way you want them to.
Metal screams, a harsh and abrasive noise that grates at my ears and makes me want to cover them. But I’m still gripping the steering wheel, and there’s no time to move. I hear glass pop and shatter, and feel the splinters drive their way into my body, embedding deep into my skin. I feel as if I am on fire.
One of my final conscious actions is to slam the brake, so I am vaguely aware of the car fishtailing side to side as the tires squeal. It’s far too difficult to take in all the different sounds as my world crashes in on me—both literally and figuratively.
But the one dominating sense is the pain. Oh, the pain. My head bangs against the steering head, and the air bag deflates. But it will not save me. Nothing can save me now. I think there’s a fire, because a sharp, burning sensation suddenly makes itself known to me. It feels as though the skin is melting off my body. As if I’m being roasted alive. Maybe I am. I want to scream, but there isn’t any time.
And as my car careens wildly around, and there’s an explosion, and I am dying, those words keep playing over and over in my head. My death will be almost instantaneous. But not quite. I will suffer—I am suffering; there will be pain—there is pain. Whether it is five seconds or five minutes, it is still pain. And it hurts to know that this is the final pain, that these are the final moments. The moments of, before I am gone. Forever.
No one can know what it’s like to die unless it has happened to them. And none of them live to tell it. Some people make it romantic, others tragic. But do you want to know what the truth is? It’s this: at that very moment, even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, or if you believe in heaven or hell or karma, it doesn’t really matter. Right then, all you want do is live. Like me. All I want to do is live. All my thoughts are a jumbled cacophony of denial, anger, bargaining: No no not me can’t die I don’t want to die please no let me live please no I don’t can’t won’t please no live live please.
But let me make something clear before I go. Right now, I am in my final moment of lucidity, that moment right before I cease to exist on this plane, and I want you to know this: I am not here to frighten or terrify you. I am not even here to make you feel sorry for me. I will be gone shortly, and there will be no more pain. I am here only to tell you my story. Whatever you infer from it is up to you. I will have done my part.
Then the moment of passes, just like that. I exhale my final breath, and all my selfishness, loss, and pain melts away. There is darkness. But I don’t feel anything. I don’t see anything.
But then I do.
The moment of my death is over. The moment of my new life is here. Life without end is about to begin.
And I see the light. That blessed, blessed light.

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