49: Over the Edge

49: Over the Edge

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Over the Edge

Hope keeps you alive. Faith gives your life meaning, blessings, and a good end.

~Rex Rouis

As my car spun wildly out of control toward a 250-foot drop into the ocean, all I could do was pray. This wasn’t the Thanksgiving vacation I had looked forward to when my fiancé and I had planned it several months ago! My mind raced through the recent events that brought me to what appeared to be the end of my twenty-four-year-old life.

We had planned to visit luxurious bed and breakfast inns, take long leisurely drives in the country and perhaps enjoy a wine tasting or two as a way to reconnect and take a break from our sixty-hour workweeks. But the discovery of his infidelity and my subsequent angry departure had put an end to the dream.

Instead, I substituted a solitary drive up Highway 1—the coastal route from Los Angeles to the wine country north of San Francisco. In November you can see spectacular vistas, stunning sunsets and few people—all the beauty with none of the crowds. The weather is cool, but not yet rainy. A week away would give me ample time to think and plan.

And it had. I enjoyed the fresh, cool air as well as the spectacular and scary drive up the ridiculously-narrow and curvy highway. Several parts of the road are carved out of cliffs that drop straight down to rocky shorelines, and negotiating these areas was stomach-churning at best.

I made it as far as Mendocino, and had enjoyed the charming hippie atmosphere after the somewhat over-the-top wineries in Napa and Sonoma. The time away had allowed me to face the fact that my life would change in major ways, and I had come to terms with starting over, as painful as it might be. In fact, I had decided to cut my vacation short and return home. Worn out by driving difficult winding roads, I planned to drive home the less scenic route, via a major four-lane highway.

However as I left the B&B that morning, the owner spoke of the spectacular forests that Weyerhaeuser maintained—the incredible natural scenery and opportunities to see abundant wildlife. The only drawback: viewing this lushness called for one last curvy drive down Highway 1 through Bodega Bay. When I questioned him about the unfamiliar route, the inn owner assured me it was an easy thirty-two-mile drive after which I could head to the interstate.

The drive toward the coast was stunning—through old growth forests and carefully managed meadows full of wildlife. Heavy fog shrouded the area in mystery that morning, and the views seemed a perfect end to a difficult week. As I turned south onto Highway 1, I felt full of peace and the determination to begin again.

Unfortunately, when this occurred in the early 1970s, only locals used the road to Bodega Bay, and it was pitted, potholed and without guardrails. There were sinuous S-curves still wet with fog that had my tires squealing, even when I slowed to a crawl. About halfway through, a large pickup truck and trailer began impatiently following me.

On a stretch of straight road, the pickup raced around me. Apparently in front loomed a hard left S-curve. But the driver had slammed on his brakes, swerving and throwing the trailer so closely in front of my fender that it blocked my view until I almost drove off the curve.

I pulled with all my might to try to get around before it was too late. But with the wet road and my lightweight vehicle, I went into an all-out spin. As the truck sped away, I felt myself helplessly spinning closer and closer to the cliff.

How would it be to die at twenty-four? Had I done all I was “meant” to do? Could I really answer positively for my life? I found a deep sense of regret rising over wasted, overworked and angry hours. This feeling replaced even my fear of the absolute certainty of the crash to come. I felt the tires hit the edge of the gravel and larger rocks, and the car tipping downward. Will I feel the crash? I don’t want to feel the crash, Lord. Or maybe I’ll just drown in the sea below… Oh, God, help me!

I noticed the sun glinting on the ocean below and saw the tires go off into space. Then my seatbelt broke. I was thrown over to the passenger side and mercifully blacked out.

Sometime later I woke up to the sound of fists hammering on my passenger side window. When I opened my eyes, I saw a crowd of people surrounding the car, which sat in a ditch forty feet away from the cliff I had gone over.

I fell out of the car into the mud and felt strong arms pick me up. I had broken ribs, had massive bruises to the right side of my body and a concussion, but I was alive! How could that be?

After confirming I would survive, everyone, including me, stood in stunned silence at the side of the cliff, amazed by the story a car of sightseers told about driving toward me and seeing everything as it happened.

They had watched in horror as my car spun into the air and tilted down toward the sea. Then, amazingly, it had come back upright, and flown away from the edge.

When I limped to where it had happened, I clearly saw where all four tires had spun off the edge and where the bottom of the car had scraped on the boulders jutting out the cliff below the road. I also saw where the entire car had come back onto the road some ten feet away from the cliff then slid sideways, with no tire marks before where the slide began. It looked as if my car had been picked up and tossed like a toddler’s plaything.

I sat in wonder on the edge of that cliff for a long time, crying in gratitude for another chance. That day I learned the profound truth that miracles are real, and that we each can pray for one in our lives.

~Kamia Taylor

More stories from our partners