The overwhelming blinding light was surrounding me, and it almost felt like I was drowning in it. The brilliant luminosity slowly subsided and I could open my eyes again. I was standing in the middle of a deserted street.
Many people who have had near-death experiences have spoken about how they had seen a light at the end of a tunnel. I can now verify that for myself. There had indeed been a light and a tunnel, but to be honest, I did not expect it to lead me to an empty street.
Although there were no dark clouds in the sky, a gloomy shadow hung around me, immersing everything in a sea of grey. I wondered whether I was stuck somewhere between life and death, unable to be a part of either world, which was slowly seeming like an awfully terrifying concept.
The sight of a bright yellow car on the horizon broke the somber spell of the surroundings. As it got closer, I realized that it was a simple taxi cab. It stopped in front of me, beckoning me to get in. At that point, nothing was making much sense and maybe it was not supposed to. So, without giving it a second thought, I got into the car. The driver, still being as silent as a crypt, started the car again. I was too bemused to ask him any of the thousand questions that were burning inside my mind. Instead, I looked out of the window and what I saw outside made the whole experience even more bizarre than it already was.
On the side of the street was me, when I was five years old, playing in the rain with my brother and laughing gleefully as I chased him and jumped into puddles. The car drove on and left the scene behind. As the car drove further, I saw myself again at the age of fourteen, having the time of my life with my friends, wiping away tears of laughter as we danced along to the latest funky song. Then the memory of me at my high school graduation materialized, giving the valedictorian speech, my parents beaming with pride. I saw myself at the funeral of my best friend who had killed herself because she was being abused by her husband and could not take it anymore. I recalled feeling helpless and being racked with guilt, wishing that I could have done something more to help her. I caught a glimpse of myself in a hospital room, holding my brother’s first child, my niece, for the first time and thinking that it was the most precious thing in the world. I recognized the memory of playing Scrabble with my parents and my brother, having a near picture-perfect family day, and before I realized it, my eyes were welling up with tears.
As the taxi went further down the street, various other memories came to life, some wonderful, some terrible, but all of them having some kind of impact on who I was as a person now. The last memory was me at my current age, coming out of the local supermarket after buying some late night groceries when, before I knew what was happening, the haphazardly driven truck came into view. I still clearly remember the fear I had felt then and my heart tightened. I saw myself lying on the side of the road, bleeding out and dying alone. The taxi drove past the memory and I was left feeling lost, feeling like I did not deserve to die this way, at the hands of a drunk driver.
The driver looked back at me for the first time during the entire ride. He had a kind face, which seemed to be glowing ever so faintly. When he smiled at me, I felt like all my miserable thoughts had disappeared. The car was picking up speed, and I looked out of the window once more to see where we were headed. I saw that the road ended into nothingness- a void filled with light. There was no use feeling sorry for myself now. Everything happens for a reason and with that thought and a renewed sense of boldness, I closed my eyes as the ground beneath the car gave away and we were falling. With the blinding light engulfing me once more, I braced myself for what was to come.