True essence of death: Examining life’s perspective

I was driving home from my evening college class and jamming out to music with Sisco, my best friend, in the passenger seat. It was a snowy evening, so traffic was quiet. After a few minutes, my friend turned down the volume and said, “Wow, that snow is coming down hard!” With both hands on the wheel, I reply, “Yeah, the roads are slick, plus the wind is making it impossible to see. Maybe we should’ve skipped class after all!”

Sisco smirks and replies, “You never listen to me Pat. I always have a good reason to skip! It’ll be worth it though. One day, we’ll graduate from college, begin our careers, and start a family! How insane!”

I imagine those events in my mind, then reply, “I know man, I think about it all the time. I can’t wait to see what the future—*A truck blows a stop sign, speeds through the middle of the intersection, and crashes directly into the passenger’s side door of my car*

Dazed and confused, I opened my eyes to the shattered windshield of my destroyed vehicle which is face down in the ditch. All I could hear was the blaring of a horn and the sound of a person yelling in pain. I kept losing and regaining consciousness for a few minutes, catching glimpses of my bloody body, the damages to my snow-covered vehicle, and a man in the passenger seat leaning over and breathing heavily.

Finally, I came to my senses and realized the person who was groaning in agony: Sisco! He was holding his leg which was stuck between the seat and the crushed car door. “Sisco! Are you okay? Does anything besides your leg hurt?” Grinding his teeth, my friend turns to me and replies, “My whole body is freezing and aching but nothing compares to the pain of my—ughhh!” he yells and leans over to clutch his leg again.

“Hang on, I’ll get you out of there!” I say as I begin to push open the driver’s door. It won’t budge. “It’s stuck! That’s it, cover your face!” I kick the window and break the glass.

After climbing out of the vehicle, I cover my eyes from the blizzard outside and see the destroyed truck that hit us. The man’s head is leaning against the wheel causing the horn to blare. I reach into my pocket for my phone: it’s gone. I grit my teeth partly from the pain of the wounds I sustained from the crash and also from the worry of not being able to call for help.

I walk toward the other side of my car to rescue my friend. Thankfully, the snow had accumulated enough to create a significant amount of padding in the ditch. Our injuries could have been much worse if it wasn’t for this storm.

I attempt to pry open the passenger door with my hands, but it won’t move. The truck damaged it too much. “I can’t open the door! Is there any room to squeeze your leg out of there?” I ask my friend. After trying to maneuver his trapped limb out of the area, he says, “Not at all. We need to hurry, I can’t feel my leg anymore!”

“Please tell me you have your phone?” I ask hopefully. Sisco glumly replies, “If it didn’t fall out in the crash, then it’s stuck in the same pocket as my trapped leg.” I slam my fist onto the damaged car and yell, “I don’t know what to do! We’re gonna freeze at this rate!”

I notice the distinct smell of smoke and turn toward the other vehicle: the truck’s engine is starting to smoke! “We need to move right now!” I demand. Sisco worriedly yells, “Pat, get me out of here!” I begin tugging on the crushed door in attempts to free my friend.

I notice the smoke on the other vehicle begin to spark into a small flame. My eyes grow wide and I grab the door and pull with all my might. Yelling in great struggle, I hear the sounds of every bone in my body cracking as I attempt to open the car door.

Looking into my friend’s eyes, I allow the fear of both of us dying to fuel me with adrenaline. “You’re doing it Pat! Keep going! I don’t know how, but you’re moving it!” my friend exclaims in astonishment.

Finally, I move the door just enough for Sisco to slip his leg out and I pull him out through the window. I help him crawl out of the ditch of snow with his hurt leg, as I turn to see the flames of the truck beginning to grow larger.

With my friend using me as a crutch, we hurriedly start moving away from the danger. After getting a safe distance away, I sit my friend down, then say, “Stay here man.” Confused, Sisco asks, “What do you mean Pat? Where are you going?” Returning the smirk from earlier, I say, “To get the other guy.”

With my friend shouting behind me, I run toward the truck as the flames grow large. Although dazed, the man seems to be alive. Sweating from the intense heat, I manage to pull him out of the truck just before the flames engulf him.

After I pull his arm around my shoulder, I begin dragging him away from the burning truck with a slight conscious effort from him. I gratefully smile as the snow and wind finally calm and I see/hear emergency vehicles in the distance. After walking several feet, I happily exclaim, “Come on, just a little farther! We’re going to make it!”

From the position I left him in, Sisco yells, “Pat, hurry up and get over here! The fire is almost to the fuel— *the truck explodes behind our backs, throwing me into the pavement, and my vision is immediately clouded with darkness*

What came next completely altered my view on death: I opened my eyes. But I was not the same as I had been before: now I was a spirit. In this form, I was able to see things from another perspective, a perspective that changed my life.

I witnessed my own visitation and funeral. Many paid their respects: much more than I imagined. I was happy to be cared for by so many people, however, seeing their tearful faces at the service was heart-breaking, especially my best friend, who arrived on crutches. Even the parents of the man who crashed into my vehicle showed up.

I learned he had fallen asleep at the wheel after working a double shift. Unfortunately, the man had died along with me that night. His parents apologized on his behalf, however, my own parents refused to give forgiveness and ordered them to leave. I felt my heart drop at the realization that they were not only sad, but also bitter.

I spent the next several months wandering this world as a spirit and witnessed my loved ones struggle immensely with my death. Some quit their jobs, dropped out of school, stopped pursuing their passions, and became empty shells. Others turned to alcohol, drugs, violence, seclusion, and other unhealthy/self-destructive habits in desperate attempts to cope with the unbearable sadness.

Witnessing these effects on the people I cared for supported my opinion that nothing good can come from death. However, what came next contested that viewpoint: they started to recover. Not only did they get back to the positions they were in before my death, they went even farther.

I saw the beautiful changes happen right before my eyes. The people who quit their jobs, dropped out of school, or gave up on their passions, went back with different mindsets and strived to become even better.

The others regained their lost traits and replaced the negative coping habits they developed with healthy ones which benefited their life in other ways as well. To top it all off, my mother and father forgave the other man and his parents, which filled my heart with joy. My loved ones used my memory as their inspiration to make all of these positive changes.

It brought tears to my eyes to see everyone I care for turn their life around so dramatically. I had no idea I made such significant impacts on them during my lifetime.

I know why I was privileged to wander as a spirit after the accident. I needed to learn an important lesson: I was wrong. There are positive aspects to both life and death. We just have to open our eyes to different perspectives, be patient, and have hope, because the grieving process is longer and worse for some than others.

Since I have achieved this life-changing philosophy and am confident my loved ones will allow my memory to affect their lives positively, I can now peacefully move onto the next chapter in my journey: the afterlife.

Despite this story being fictional, it displays a very important concept: even in death, there’s a positive side. Grieving can cause us to believe nothing but negativity can be received from losing someone. Fortunately, that’s not the case.

Our loved ones would never want us to self-destruct after their death, they would want us to strive to be better people and to improve our lives. Of course, doing this without them can be extremely challenging. Sadly, there’s nothing we can do to bring them back in the form they once were.

However, the option to keep them alive in another form is always there: using them as our fuel, our motivation, to achieve the best lives we can, if not for ourselves, then for them. In this way, we are allowing our lost ones to live on as beloved memories within our hearts forever.

Although we will never stop missing them and never truly fill the empty gaps in our hearts, we will learn to live on because we know, deep down, that’s what they would want for us. “The hardest part wasn’t losing you, it was learning to live without you.” – Anonymous

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