December 30, 2014, will always be one of the most pivotal days of my life because it was that that my existence on this planet forever changed. About now, as I write this, it would have been around 10:32 am in the morning and I would have been in my packed-out Honda making my way through snowy weather and on my way down to New Mexico to meet Mark for the first time. I was so excited about meeting him, everything had happened so quickly from the time that he and I had begun to speak on the phone only 10 days before to how things had played out during that time.
I still felt weak from being bed-ridden a few days before I had embarked on this crazy trip because I had recently had my Adam’s apple surgery. I had even called off going down to Silver City during that time because I thought that maybe Mark and I weren’t a good match, due to our contrasting religious belief differences. He was disappointed but then within a couple of days, the trip was back on. He called me to see how I was doing and I told him that I was thinking about him and he told me that he always knew that we were not that different. I agreed with him and soon after I told him that I would still be willing to come down to see him if he wanted me to.
I am sure that at first, he was very hesitant and he did not really know whether to believe me or not. He told me that he did not have much and life was pretty good where he was at. He had managed to keep things simple and sweet for himself by staying put in his RV and enjoying life in this little mountain town in New Mexico. The appeal for a change was definitely enticing for me and I knew that I needed to go. Actually, on the night that I was to leave, I was held up by my former boyfriend James, who had needed me to pick him up from work because his car was getting repaired from being in an accident a couple of weeks beforehand
A couple of weeks before, James and I had gone up north to Duluth to go see Christmas lights and to spend the weekend. On our way back from having lunch in Grand Marais, up on the north shore of Minnesota, James lost control of his car and we slid off of the highway and into a ditch. It was like slow motion when it was happening. I felt as if he was driving a little too fast a few minutes before but I trusted that a person who grew up in this area would be familiar with driving in the snow. As we lost control, all I could hear was him saying “uh oh” and having a near-miss with a road sign which took off a part of his front bumper, we slid down a small embankment and got stuck in a snowbank.
An older couple driving down that same highway noticed a car stuck in snow and they stopped and called 911. I remember the woman came down to where we were and she donated a blanket to me and the couple kindly and graciously waited until the highway patrol arrived along with a tow truck. I was visibly frustrated with James and I knew that being with him was not going to work out for very much longer. I had no idea that this accident was a foreshadowing of what was going to happen to me on a much grander scale. I know how I felt after that incident and had decided that I needed to change my circumstances. I did not know what that was going to look like, whether I was going to be moving back down to Nashville or what but I knew that I needed to do something.
I was trying to leave much earlier than the 9 pm hour that I ended up departing Minnesota on the night of December 29th. I did not know how to break it to James that I was leaving. I did not think that he could emotionally handle my departure, so I kept silent about it. The thing is that I had planned on leaving on the morning of the 30th. The problem came from the fact that he needed me to take him to the auto repair shop that morning to pick up his car. After we arrived there, he was told that his car wasn’t ready and that it would be a few more days before his car would be ready. We were both frustrated for different reasons and he needed me to not only take him to work that afternoon but to pick him up at midnight that night.
That was really throwing a real wrench into my plans for collecting my things at a downtown Minneapolis storage center and also my ability to leave for New Mexico at a good time. James was expecting me to pick him up and I was expecting to leave that day. I was already behind, so I was literally scrambling with ideas for what I should do. One thing I knew was that no matter what, I was going to leave on the 30th. I had to, I did not know why at the time but I knew that I needed to get going. So I made my way to the storage locker and pulled out some of the things that I needed and left a lot of my belongings back in the locker.
I remember looking out the window from the storage facility, as the sun was going down and knowing that I had to leave, no matter what. I was going and I had to figure out what to do about picking up James at midnight. I called my friend Rebecca and told her my plans and how I needed her help. She went to the home in Eden Prairie that I was staying at and helped me pack up my things and then we went to Five Guys to eat dinner. It was around 9 o’clock at night and I asked her if she could pick up James but she told me that she could not do it. Finally, after going to an ATM and handing her a couple hundred dollars, she agreed to help me out. I was already stressed out from having to bribe her and it was already too late to leave but that is exactly what I did.
I called Mark after I was on the road for a few minutes, I told him that I was finally on my way. I could tell that he was not quite believing me but I assured him that I was not pulling his leg. I was finally relieved to be on my way and I was going to prove it to him by meeting him down in Silver City as we had agreed on. So there I was, in my car, with many but not all of my things and with a heart so open to experience something new. Looking back, I had left far too late for my drive to be safe. It was the bleak of winter and I had to contend with snowy conditions all the way from Minnesota and into New Mexico. The weather lightened up occasionally but most of the time, I was fighting off the snow. Add to that the fact that I had only one working headlight. Dumb, I know, I had even purchased a replacement headlight a week before but it was so cold in Minnesota that the weather made it so difficult to find time to get it fixed.
So imagine, I had ben driving through a snowy night and on into the next day. I stopped only to get gas and then be back on the road. I was riding on adrenaline and expectation and really a whole lot of luck. Looking back, I made some really stupid and irrational decisions that day. Mark and I were texting throughout that day and were both thrilled about what was going to happen. You see, there was a supernatural connection from the first moment that I heard his voice. He captured my heart like no one has ever done before. I was driven by some force to make my way down there and that is what I was purposed to do.
By around 5, I stopped off at a LUV Travel Stop on Interstate 40 in New Mexico. I stopped long enough to get a bite to eat at the Carl’s Jr. that was connected to it. That was the last time that Mark and I ever spoke prior to my accident. I was on target to arrive by 10 that night. I had only a few more hours to go and I was going to make it. After all, I had done this before, I had driven these crazy distances before in my lifetime. This was typical of how I drove myself to different jobs that I had as a freelancer, so I knew that I had done this before. The problem this time was that I did not take the last No-Doz bottle and I was beyond tired by the time I arrived at the turnout to Silver City at around 8 that night. Why didn’t I stop and rest? I had some No-Doz in my glove compartment but I had so much stuffed crammed into my front seat that it was blocked from being able to be opened. I was clearly not in my right rational mind and I certainly paid the consequences not even two hours later.
I remember thinking that I was not ready to do mountain driving but that this was the way that Google Maps had sent me to go. Had I been fully rational, I would have noticed that I could have gone a little further down the road and could have taken a path which would have only taken 9 minutes longer and that would not have made me climb up remote mountain roads. The thing is that I made some serious mistakes and I paid very dearly for them.
Was what happened meant to happen all along? Was I just being led to be placed into situations that would forever alter my existence? Was I not really in charge of my destiny? Did I have a say in any of it? Last year, I would have told you that I was not in control of any of it. I would have said that God had a plan that I would end up being brought through. That was all based on how I believed before I renounced my own salvation and Christianity in general. I was in charge, I have always been in charge of my life. The God that does exist, grants me that autonomy and I myself caused what happened to me to happen. I was doing what I wanted to do with my life, no one was pushing me to these ends. God did not do this, I did it to myself. I wanted out of the life that I had so bad, so much so that I made it happen.
It was after my harrowing accident, that I found myself alone in the bottom of a snowy mountain canyon. It was as if I left the universe that I was in and was placed into an entirely different one altogether. I was without hope and in lots of pain, I did not know that I would live through the night. I was not worried about it though, I just knew that I was alive and that I did not want to die. So I slept…until the next morning.
Two worlds collided that night and nothing would ever be the same for me or for Mark. I can’t imagine what he was thinking about when hours slipped by and I had not arrived. The chocolates, the wine, my T-Bear was sitting there waiting for me and hours were passing by and he did not know what to do. He ended up calling the police and they told him that they could not do anything because it was late and it was dark. So he kept a vigil, holding out for any news about me. He knew where I was last as I had indicated on Facebook. He went off of that and told the authorities where he had last been able to see me as being. He knew how remote and dangerous of a mountain it was that I was driving on and his hope was that I would have just stopped off and parked at a rest area for the night. My Facebook was lit up all night long and he was responding to the many who were inquiring about my whereabouts. Needless to say that he didn’t get any sleep that night because he was worried sick about me. He was soon going to find out what really happened to me…