A Brush With Death

Daniel had been looking forward to it all day. The movie would start at 7:30 pm, and he planned to meet his girlfriend, Angelina, in the mall shortly after 7 pm. He was wearing  his blue jeans jacket, sporty trousers, and sports shoes. He looked good and he knew she’d notice.

He glanced at his watch and strode out into the zebra crossing at a busy Moscow intersection, a couple of blocks from the cinema. Out of nowhere the taxi turned into the intersection and he was thrown to the side of the road. For a brief moment he thought, “This is it! I’m dead.” He became dimly aware that people were gathered around him. Blood was pouring from his face and he could see out of only one eye.

A Special Forces vehicle was passing by, having been called out to respond to a robbery. One of the officers in the vehicle looked out and asked the driver to slow down for an accident. “Good Lord!” said the officer. “I know that young man lying on the ground. He’s a friend of my brother!” In a moment he made a quick decision. “Pull over,” he ordered. “We’ll see if we can help.”

Meanwhile, Angelina was getting anxious. Why was he late? Where was he? She dialed his cellphone and a faint, distant voice said, “I’ve been in an accident. A car has run into me.” That’s all he managed to say when he lost consciousness. She left their meeting place and rushed into the street, looking around wildly. A couple of blocks away she could see the flashing lights of police cars and could hear the sirens of an ambulance. She ran in that direction and when she got to the scene of the accident was horrified to see Daniel lying there bleeding profusely.

The robbery had ceased to be of first importance and the officer of the Special Forces had taken charge. Daniel was carefully loaded into the ambulance which sped away to the nearest hospital. A nurse held onto his hand, speaking soothing words to him: “You’ll be okay. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay. We’re going to get you all the help you need.” Later, Daniel was to say she had a lot to do with keeping him alive.

At the hospital emergency, he was quickly wheeled into the operating room where the traumatologist performed the operation on his brain to relieve the pressure caused by the buildup of blood and fluids. It was touch and go, he told Sergei and Yulia, Daniel’s parents, who were waiting in a state of shock to find out whether their son would live. “We’ve induced a coma and will keep him in that state for better observation. It is very fortunate, when he was thrown by the taxicab, that he landed on the front of his head, as the skull bone is much more resistant to trauma at the front than the back.”

Then began the long night of waiting. Sergei and Yulia spent the night on their knees praying that Daniel would be saved. Sergei contacted the many spiritual people that he knew in their church and at a monastery, who immediately promised to pray with them.

The next morning, exhausted from lack of sleep, the surgeon told them that Daniel would be kept in the coma as long as was necessary, but it wasn’t known whether he’d survive. It would seem that Daniel was not supposed to die. As Sergei told me: “God had other plans.” After three days Daniel was brought out of the coma and he began to eat. Everyone knew that this lanky, twenty-year-old could eat like a horse. Surely his returning appetite was a good sign. And it was.

As he improved, he was moved out of intensive care into a ward with a number of other patients who were in an extremely bad way. A man of about thirty lay like a vegetable opposite him, unable to do anything for himself. His wife came to visit him every day and Daniel learned that they had a newborn baby. Meanwhile, day by day, like a miracle, Daniel was getting stronger and was recovering quickly. His  parents began to conceive of the possibility that their son, should he survive, might not end up in the same tragic condition as the man in the ward with Daniel. “God didn’t mean him to die,” Sergei  confided in me, “but we all need to change the way we are.” He didn’t elaborate on this, and I didn’t press him.

Thirteen days after the accident had happened Daniel was out of hospital. The phone rang and a jubilant Sergei announced: “Danya is home!” I wished I could have given him a hug of joy and relief over the thousands of miles that separate us here in Mexico from them in Moscow. “Thank you for your prayers,” he said. “We are so grateful for all of you who prayed for Danya. We believe he wouldn’t have survived without your prayers. And he wouldn’t have survived if others, like angels, had not been there to help.” I wiped my tears as I listened. “Did you ever think how you would have faced it if Danya had died?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied without a pause. “If God had  taken him, I would have learned to accept it.” What a different phone call it would have been had the news not been so joyful.


August 2022 Issue

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Gabrielle Blair
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