I had a near death experience while traveling alone in Mexico on November 21, 2017.
This encounter with death has forever altered me.
Not knowing whether or not you will remain living and breathing has an impact on one that is nearly indescribable. I feel called to begin to share pieces of this story as well as the effects that it had on my life and my way of being.
I was staying in a moderately touristy area of Mexico – Los Cabos – by a lovely fishing pier with boats large and small making their way into the quiet town regularly. I felt safe and welcomed in this area and was exploring as a tourist by foot checking out various beach areas, walking the pier, eating at taco stands, reading and writing – soaking up the culture through all of my senses. I was inspired as I always am being in this beautiful country that I love. The warmth and gratitude that I experienced from the Mexican people always brings me right into my heart and that joyful place of gratitude.
I had made “friends” along the way in the few days I had been there, including a waitress at a taco stand where I spent a couple of hours midday writing and relaxing in the shade. This woman was tall and lanky, not something you see often in that country. She was vibrant and enthusiastic and each time I walked into this establishment with my wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sarong wrapped around my shoulders (gringo way of trying to protect myself from the relentless sun!) she greeted me as if I were a celebrity. She would pull out my chair, take my hat and put it on its own chair, bring me my cold, 140 Peso (about a dollar) Pacifico out as if it were a drink for a queen. We squeezed hands, she touched my shoulder affectionately as she passed me by, we hugged when we said goodbye as I offered her a tip that was triple of what I actually owed. She was a bright light and a connection for me in this foreign country. When you travel alone in a country where you do not speak the language, people such as this woman do become your friends. We did not speak the same verbal language yet our hearts were in dialogue.
On this fateful day, I had an intuitive moment that it was time for me to leave the taco stand and move on with my day. I had not been there for longer than an hour yet I knew that it was time to leave. I said goodbye to my friend with a hug and a big smile and carried on with my day.
Two hours later a bullet from an AK would end this woman’s life among 4 others. The table that I had the intuition to leave from became the target of a hit by the Mexican drug cartel and my friend, the cook, and 3 other men would take their last breaths there.
After the first shot blasted through the air, I was whisked into a hotel room by an English-speaking waiter. It was me and about 8 other employees. My savior thrust me under a bed and hushed me as I continually questioned what was happening, what was happening, what was happening….this sweet, brave young man remained out and visible as a guardian. He was my contact point and I trusted him although I did not even know his name. I did not know if the shooter would be making his way the 10 feet over to where we were located and open fire, I did not know anything. After 5 succinct gun shots, my protector said simply: “He is gone. He is not coming back. You are safe”. And, I believed him.
I reflect back to that moment when I heard the first gun shot — the explosion of a life — the exhale and the end of breath. That moment of impact and disbelief amongst us all. That moment of pure and raw awakening.
That gunshot woke me up from a trance that I had been in…
On May 8, 2017 I was derailed, humiliated and degraded in a court of law by my sons dad. It was a Scorpio Full Moon and exactly 8 years to the day that I had labored and birthed my child and had become a mother. That day, 8 years later, I was burned at the stake with witnesses in horror and some, sadly, in satisfaction. That day imprinted me deeply and the months that followed I spun in circles of disbelief, grief, shame, unbelievable sadness, anger, and desperation. I felt as though I had been shot with an “AK” that day as it penetrated me to my core.
6 months later, during the Scorpio New Moon, I was shot back into my body, back into myself, back into the present moment of reality.
That first gunshot hit my soul; the moments afterwards cracked my heart open.
The moments of not knowing if you are going to die are terrifying but are also incredibly grounding. You are given perspective and a profound sense of peace. Although I did not know if my physical body would be ok, I actually knew that everything was ok. No regrets, no remorse, only prayers of peace. Nothing fluffy with these peaceful wishes — I was praying for the peace of humanity. Questioning what in the hell is going on on a fundamental level.
Those moments of not knowing if I was going to live or die woke me up to the essence of who I am.
There was no time to panic, cry, regret, mourn….it was just me with me.
It was a time of connection that I had never experienced before and one that I have continuously referenced as I have returned.
I felt more alive in that moment of pending death than I ever have before.
I did emerge from under that bed that day, dusted myself off, opened my heart, and was reborn. I did find my way back onto a plane heading back home – weeping with gratitude – wiping my mascara with hoards of tissues and appreciating every moment of it.
This ordeal has gifted me with an infinite amount of appreciation for the preciousness of living and breathing, of making eye contact with others, of hearing the laughter of my child, of waking up every single day with a new opportunity to be alive in whatever flavor life has presented.
Although my outer circumstances have not necessarily shifted dramatically, my inner world has opened and is healing.
I have embraced my brush with death as one of life’s greatest learning opportunities.
I am alive and I am grateful.
I have been softened into a state of compassion.
I live with my eyes wide open.
I am attuned to myself – my body, my nervous system, my emotions, my spirit – and, when something is off, I tend to it.
I no longer take things for granted including those hard mommy moments, or other challenges that life is inevitably going to offer.
I am learning the art of trust, surrender, and faith. I know that I was divinely protected during that incident and I felt held in my vulnerability.
I am being continuously propelled in the direction of authentic expression of who I truly am. Unapologetic and raw. There is no time for facades – for trying to be someone else.
I strive in every moment to be a good person – to meet others with kindness and empathy.
I am more committed than ever to my health and well-being – genuinely feeling the preciousness of this physical life and the crucial importance of self-care.
My spiritual practices have taken more of a priority so as to continually support me to live as the best version of myself and to constantly feel the potency of the present moment. It is a true gift.