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My “Accidental” Awakening

A crash course in surrendering into the present moment

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Theresa Puskar and her miracle baby, Bernadette
Theresa Puskar and her miracle baby, Bernadette

“Oh, God. No!” Fuzzy black boot slamming against an unresponsive brake pedal. Slamming again, and again. Slipping, sliding, rolling, falling—no control. Terror blasts through every cell of my being.

Time seemed to stand still as I hurled through the air in my speeding car—a real-life roller coaster gone awry. A puny, crap box of failed safety ratings, sliding out of control on merciless black ice—flying then rolling along the grassy median, again and again, and ultimately tearing into my skin during a full-throttle Canadian blizzard. “Dear God, help! I’ve lost control.” Then darkness. 

Forty minutes later, I regained consciousness, I felt deeply, very deeply. The first thing I did was mutter the name Kevin. While my broken body ached, my heart ached for him. His love was palpable and his empathy was deep and real. I later discovered that he was the paramedic who tended to me in the ambulance. His compassion was my lifeline as I struggled to return to consciousness. 

Soon after arriving at the ER, I was overcome with extreme pain as I felt the hard, cold stretcher press against my aching back. I felt slight relief when the thoughtful attendants placed and replaced heated blankets over my shocked, shake- and-bake body for what seemed to be hours. 

I remember the attending doctor. He was deliciously handsome, and I felt butterflies in my turbulent and traumatized stomach as he diagnosed my condition. He asked me if I knew what day it was. I couldn’t recall, but before I fully realized my whereabouts, I uttered, “I’m pregnant. I think I’m pregnant. Please don’t give me any drugs.” 

He honored my request and soon after his preliminary examination, I remember saying, “Please call my mother.” He asked me if I remembered her phone number, and I recited the number without hesitation. Despite the multitude of bandages that were wrapped around my bloodied head, with my quick response, he knew that I had not suffered brain damage. Several caregivers examined my face and head, and I could sense their concern. I assumed that I had survived a massive, ugly injury to my face. I had imagined it as scarred and deformed. 

Throughout this ordeal, I was having a constant inner dialogue with my creator. I remember deep resolve. “Hey, God. If I’m deformed, so be it. I’ve been an actress for over twenty years. My looks were so important. But I’m going to be a mother now, and if this child survives this, I don’t need a pretty face. I’ll be just fine.” My vanity disappeared, if only for a short time!

I fractured the C7 and T1 vertebrae of my spine. I also had a compression fracture, and the frontal lobe of my head had been pierced by a sharp object. It tore most of my scalp off, leaving a flap of skin still adhering to the back of my head. It took 700 stitches and 5 hours to re-adhere my scalp. I liken the injury to an opened can of soup, with a tiny piece of the lid that had not succumbed to the sharp, steel blade of the can opener. But my can opener was a 3,000-pound automobile! 

For several hours, I was in a heightened state of awareness. I remember every detail in vivid, vibrant color. I could feel the loving concern of those who cared for me in a very deep way. That potent connection helped me move beyond the trauma. I had a new life growing within me, and I wanted my child to suffer no more than she already had with the car accident (although I don’t believe there was anything accidental about it). 

In retrospect, I realize that I completely surrendered to the moment. The fear that had overwhelmed me as I slammed the brakes and clung to the wheel of my car had melted away. My ego was non-existent, and I was 100 percent present. I didn’t care if I was deformed. I was at one with those who cared for me, experiencing their open hearts as if they were mine. I was not lost in angst about yesteryears or panicking about the worries of tomorrow. I was physically and emotionally present and totally aware. Despite the terror and trauma that I had undergone, I knew that all was well. For a short and potent period of time, I relinquished control (or should I say that control was relinquished for me?), and I was in an altered state of consciousness. Was it the state of shock I was in? Was it where I had journeyed to during the forty minutes that I was unconscious? I will never know, but I do know that ever since this “accidental” awakening, I’ve been aching to return to that surrendered state once again!

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