Today ten years ago

I had just moved to Stockholm in 2008 and was responsible for rolling out a global project for the company that I was working for then. I was traveling a lot and one of my visits was to the plant that the company had in Gemerská Horka in Slovakia. I was traveling with one of our business partners and we had a good two day meeting at the plant there. At midday on 13th August 2008,  we started our drive to the airport to make our way back to Stockholm – we were flying via Vienna. A local taxi driver, who was used by the company very often, was driving us in a nice big Chrysler van and we had more than enough time to reach the airport.

We were on a fast and busy country road when our driver got fed up and decided to overtake a slow moving truck that was in front of us. I was sitting behind the driver and while he was overtaking, I could see a car coming very fast from the opposite lane and overtaking too. I remember the moment when I realised with horror that our car was

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With the HR team at the plant just before we left

not going to manage to overtake the truck without hitting the other car. I  clearly recall the crash, our car being flung off the road and rolling over and over again. And I remember that I shouted out “Jesus – save us”. I also remember thinking that the seat belts were really good, they had tightened and I was firmly held in the seat while the car rolled over and over again. The car came to a stop on its roof, we clambered out in shock, hugged each other (I was thankful that I had a very understanding and nice colleague) and kept asking each other and the driver if all was ok. Other than external cuts and bruises we seemed alright. The other car had come to a stop on the road and the driver also appeared not to be injured. I remember that I called Bernd (who was about to go into a meeting with his customer) and told him that I had an accident but was OK.

By the time the police and ambulance arrived, we had decided that no way were we staying in Slovakia – we wanted to catch the flight back home. The ambulance personnel should not have let us go without a thorough checkup but they did. We arrived at the airport (the taxi driver had called his colleague to take us there since his car was totally damaged) and by that time I had called and informed colleagues in the company. I tried to clean up in the washrooms of the airport and boarded that plane to Vienna. Both of us were obviously still in shock but functioning very well although I guess we looked a mess. We finally arrived in Stockholm and by then I was feeling a bit queasy. One of my dear colleagues from the office arrived at my apartment to check on me and assure herself that I was indeed OK. She wanted me to go to the hospital but I refused and said I would go the next morning. She ensured that I had the emergency number for the doctors in Sweden. Bernd flew up that evening itself from Munich, where he was staying at that time.

The next morning I was sore and hurting. When I went to the clinic, tests revealed I had badly bruised and cracked but not broken ribs, backlash and of course bruises all over. The doctors were shocked that we both had flown home without having any x-rays or MRT’s done to check for internal bleeding.

I don’t need to say that our injuries were mild in comparison to what could have happened. Had we not have had our seat belts on,  we would have been thrown around in the car and crushed. So much could have happened but God gave all three of us a new lease on life.

Its 10 years ago today but each year after that I have been acutely aware of the fact that I was once again gifted a new chance at life. This day reminds me of the wonderful and caring colleagues and managers I had, who supported me and gave me all the time to heal – cracked ribs are pretty painful and take long to mend! It took months before I could laugh again without hurting.

For those who have read my earlier posts, I have had my share of near death experiences.  I am thankful for such anniversaries that remind me I am living today on Grace and borrowed time. They remind me that each moment in my life is precious, to be lived and an opportunity to make a difference. I am thankful that I have had wonderful colleagues and managers who support me, stand by me in the difficult and dark periods of my life and who, over time, have become dear friends. It also IMG_3907saddens me when I see posts on social media about how time at work is precious time “wasted” (there is a video that is being avidly shared by many at the moment), about how  friends matter and not work etc. – but that is a topic for another post.
I strongly believe that each and every moment in life should be lived – be it at work or with family and friends. I believe in meaningful relationships and about cherishing each moment of the life that we are gifted with – time and time again.

When I look back at the colourful tapestry of the past ten years, I am very grateful that God put His protecting hands over that pirouetting van and kept all three of us safe. Yes there have been difficult times in these years; times I wished away; things I didn’t do or say; wrong decisions I made; deep hurt and pain that has left scars and damaged so much – but there have been beautiful moments, friendships, experiences that I have cherished all the more because I have experienced otherwise.

Especially today, I am very thankful for the beauty that is around me – be it in nature, in the love of family and friends, my crazy adorable puppy or in the opportunities that lie before and ahead of me.
Above all I am deeply thankful for the gift of life that God has given me, for the dawn and promise of each new day.  I am thankful that He has a good plan for my life and that He leads me on it. I am grateful for His Grace and Love that gently leads me back on the path when I stray. I am thankful that He shows me through “coincidences”, big or small events that the sometimes unbeaten and untrodden path is the one that He wants me to go on.  And I know that He will never leave nor forsake me, that He will go before and with me wherever I go.

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

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