Not The Person I Was Then

The worst car accident I’ve been in so far (yes, there have been others – primarily people running into the back of me at traffic lights) saw me in physical rehab.

We were spun into a concrete dividing wall at one hundred kilometres an hour on a busy freeway. We didn’t hit anyone else, but we were all banged up. Our car saved us from more severe injuries, but it paid the ultimate price and never drove again. Its ‘organs’ being donated to other vehicles.

My recovery took several months.

Part of that recovery involved a therapeutic massage therapist.

She was friendly and good at her job. The sessions were painful, but I was determined to recover.

As each session went by, I knew that she was trying to tell me something.

“Did you have an uncle who smoked and worked on cars?”

Yes, I did, but what did it have to do with my recovery?

When I pressed her, she changed the subject.

We talked about all sorts of things, and my body was healing itself.

The crash had shaken my sense of myself, and I was searching for meaning.

I kept reminding myself that we (my entire family) had survived a high-speed car accident. Many others have not been so lucky.

Thinking of how lucky I’d been didn’t help much. My world had been turned upside down.

“Did you know an Irish girl. Someone you tried to save from something?”

No, I didn’t, and where was this going?

The subject got changed.

Because of the state of my mind, I latched onto this Irish woman and where she might fit into my life.

One mainly grey afternoon, I turned up for my session determined to learn more.

“Who is this Irish lady and how does she connect to me?” I asked.

There was silence.

“Do you really want to know? Knowledge of these things can change lives and not always for the better.”

I thought about her warning, but there was no going back.

“I want to know.”

“Have you ever wondered why you stand up to bullies and step in when others are being treated badly?”

“Not really. That’s just who I am. It’s how I was brought up,” I said.

“Other people stand and watch, but you act. Am I right?”

“Yes, I guess so,” I said.

“Many, many years ago, you lived in Ireland. Your family was rich and powerful and your position in society gave the woman you loved a measure of protection. She was a healer and her outspoken ways threatened the Church and the elders. They wanted to denounce her as a witch, but your protection meant that they would be in danger if they moved against her.”

“So what happened?”

“When you were far away on business, they took her, put her on trial and sent her to be burned. Word reached you and you rode wildly, trying to get to her, to save her, but you were too late. Every life you have lived since then has seen you doing your best to save whoever you could as a way of making up for not quite getting there in time.”

I lay on the table, trying to take on what she had said. Weirdly, it all made sense.

My therapist was right. Hearing something like this changes you.

Believe it, don’t believe it — it changes you.

I think about her sometimes — my Irish lover.

I wonder who I would be in this life if I’d been in time to save her.

A few weeks later, I asked another question.

“What did I do after she died?”

“You grieved for a long time then you killed a lot of people in revenge, until they caught up with you.”

“I’m glad I didn’t just knuckle under. I’d do the same today.”

More silence.

“How many more lives will it take for you to get all of that out of your system?”

“I don’t know that I want to change. I like who I am now.”

As all things do, my recovery came to an end. Not long after, the massage business closed.

The building is on my regular walking route, and I think about those sessions every time I walk by.

People come into your life and go out just as quickly, but they all leave their mark, and you are never the same after meeting them.

I’m not the person I was then.

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