Sunday, May 22, 2011
My interesting near-death experience
Man...it's been a heck of a weekend. I have to write these thoughts out for me to be able to look back on as a reminder and to get it out of my system, as it has been going through my mind the past few days.
A beloved relative of mine passed away and we went to NY for the service. 8 of us from my family headed out on Thursday evening to head to Queens, NY. After a grueling drive there which took 3 hours extra than expected, we went to visit our relatives and to give our condolences before we headed to our hotel in Long Island to rest before the Janazah (Funeral/Burial) on Friday. After visiting our relatives, we left their apartment and headed out to check in to our hotel. It was around 1:30 a.m. and we were on the 20th floor. We boarded the elevator, about 12 of us (since Afghans have an amazing art of fitting tons of people into a compartment) and as soon as the last person stepped into the elevator, the elevator dropped with the door still open. The elevator kept falling and not in a normal fashion, as it passes through each floor until it arrives at it's destination. We were all screaming and trying to press buttons to get the elevator to stop, but it was useless. My mother was gripping my arm and had her eyes closed with her head on my aunt's shoulder, telling me how scared she was--it broke my heart because I didn't want her to be scared. My mother has high blood pressure and anxiety and the last thing I wanted was for her to have some sort of attack. In the meantime, we all had basically given in, realizing nothing was working. All I kept remembering was the nightmare I had a few times over the years of me boarding an elevator and the cord snapping and us falling until we hit the bottom and died. Now falling from the 20th floor in an elevator, I knew once we hit, it was over for us. As soon as we'd hit the bottom, we'd slam into the ceiling of the elevator and we'd be done for. I asked myself if this was how my fate was written--to be stuck in a falling elevator in NY while visiting a deceased relative and this was how I was going to go. Were there going to be 12 other Janazahs that weekend? I squeezed my eyes shut and clenched my fists. I wanted to scream out in fear and cry because of what was happening and because I was so, so scared. I didn't want to feel the pain and impact of us hitting the bottom. I didn't want to experience it and wished my heart would stop before we'd hit. I was waiting as we kept dropping each floor, for my death to arrive. This was such a profound and scary feeling--something I've never experienced before. We dropped 11 floors until emergency brakes kicked in, finally. When we stopped, I knew we weren't on the ground floor and I got more scared, thinking we'd drop again. By God's mercy and grace, we didn't drop anymore. But we did fall from the 20th floor to the 9th--however we didn't realize this, we thought we were on the 14th floor. We were stuck in the elevator for maybe 10 minutes, maybe more, but it felt like hours. We were trying to calm my mother and my aunt down in fear of them having an attack, my uncle kept mentioning how we could suffocate and I kept downplaying the situation telling them we'd last for hours in the elevator because there is ventilation--duh!..I think? But I didn't know if that was even true, I just wanted everyone to be calm and to make myself feel better. Adrenaline was pumping through all of us, we all broke into cold sweats, it was getting harder to breath, anxiety and claustrophobia was kicking in and we had no cell phone reception. Finally, we got a hold of the security guard by pressing the emergency call button with someone actually responding and eventually we were saved and had to climb out of the elevator.
I was so shaken up from this experience that I couldn't sleep all night. I laid in my hotel room reflecting on what had happened, trembling from the reality. I had totaly forgotten to recite my shahadah as well as everyone else because of the debilitating fear that had set in. How horrible is that? I submitted to the situation and waited to die--this is what petrified me the most. We made jokes about it after it happened to lighten the load, but as time passed, everyone was shocked when everything sunk in.
Everything happens for a reason and maybe this was meant to happen to help shake us awake and give us yet another reminder about how short life is and how we have our priorities mixed up. I thought of all my loved ones and what it would have been like if I never was to speak to them or see them again. I thought of how my siblings would be without me, my parents, etc.
Life is so, so short and nothing is promised tomorrow. This is another reason why I choose to live each day like it's my last and know that tomorrow may never come. May we all love passionately, live passionately and dream passionately, Ameen.