I have had some near death experiences that tell me I have been saved for a purpose and that God still wants me to fulfil something here on this earth. And every year since 2008, the 13th of August is a day that is one of these special days – a reminder of God’s protection and grace; a reminder to take a new look at my life and re-evaluate where I am and what I am doing; a day to remind myself that I shouldn’t take for granted the life that I have been gifted with.
On the 13th of August 2008 I was in Poland for a meeting that got over around midday. I had just moved to Stockholm a couple of months before and my colleague and I were to fly back to Stockholm from Kosice via Vienna. We had a private taxi that was supposed to drive us from the plant in Gemerska Horka to Kosice airport. The taxi was one of the Chrysler vans that I have always loved. We were on a country road that was quite busy with a number of slower moving lorries and trucks. Our driver was getting a bit impatient and decided to overtake. At the same time a driver in the opposite lane decided to overtake too – both drivers underestimated their speed and I could see us clearly heading for a front-on crash. I remember the impact of the cars, our van being thrown off the road into the fields next to the road, us overturning at least twice, the seatbelt tightening around me holding me to the seat, me crying out “Jesus save us” (I was sure that this was the end) and then us coming to a halt upside down. We managed to scramble out of the car in a daze, were relieved to see that all three of us (my colleague, the driver and myself) seemed Ok other than some bleeding cuts from the shattered glass. Till the ambulance arrived, my colleague and I had decided that we felt well enough to fly back to Stockholm – we did not want to stay back in Poland and go to a hospital there. We both were obviously totally in shock but convinced the ambulance and police that we wanted to get back and were OK. Since I am known to keep my head in a crisis, I of course informed my company, even called Bernd (who was with a customer in Germany) and we made our way to the airport. In hindsight, it was not one of the wisest things to do since we could have had life-threatening internal injuries.
I remember that when we were finally on the flight from Vienna to Stockholm, the
shock started wearing off and both my colleague and I began to feel pain. We arrived in Stockholm late in the evening and Bernd managed to get a flight from Munich to Stockholm too so he arrived a few hours later. One of my dear colleagues came by to check on me, ensured I had the Swedish emergency number in case I needed it that night (since I had an appointment to see the doctors the next morning). By morning I was in severe pain and tests showed that in addition to the bruises, I had cracked and bruised two ribs but they were luckily not broken. It would take time to heal and the following weeks were pretty painful. But we all agreed that we had been very fortunate indeed and had pretty “minor” injuries – a frontal crash at that speed could have been fatal. The fact that we were in a big car helped minimise the impact of us turning over a couple of times…
As I have often said, my two years in Stockholm were life-changing; the friendships and bonds that I formed during those years have grown even stronger and are to a great extent my lifeline today. And as I have mentioned earlier too, the last months have been very challenging and trying for me on all counts; have to an extent shaken me to the core of my belief in humanity; of my definition of love, truth, kindness and justice. I have not only been very much alone in all my battles but I have also questioned my own character and integrity, been made well aware of my “stupidity” and “foolishness” in supporting and fighting for others when they were facing difficult times, for standing by them in their weakness instead of leaving them alone with a it’s-not-my-problem attitude. Not one of the best things to go through when one is down physically too..
I am someone who believes in celebrating milestones and so it was all the more special to spend the 13th of August this year in the south of Sweden and celebrate with a dear friend,
who had a milestone birthday that day. It was very special to be surrounded by people that are not only kind, loving and interesting to know but also share similar morals and values; stand up and fight for those that are weak and unable to do so; people that have high integrity, inspire, are caring and fun to be with. And it was a great party too, I don’t remember when I last danced so much and had such a good time 🙂
A big thank you to all the wonderful people I met this past weekend in Malmö – old friends and new! Thank you for your kindness, for giving me hope and for showing me that that I am valued, accepted and loved for the person I am – with all my weaknesses and my strengths. Thank you for reminding me again why I love Sweden and feel so at home there. Thank you for unknowingly making this 13th August a very special day for me, a day for celebrating the new lease of life that I got eight years ago!