Ever wondered what people are thinking in their potential last moments? Well, I can’t speak for EVERYONE, but I can tell you, I had some truly bizarre thoughts cross my mind. When you’re body goes into the fight or flight state, it only focuses on the basic functions to keep you alive. However, as my mind was attempting to keep me safe, it had some other interesting things that it wanted to think about to keep my mind off of the looming danger. While some really tackle what it’s like to be faced with life or death, some were just plain weird:
1. “What in the absolute F**KKK is happening right now?”
So, I was literally just drinking a Fanta and having a conversation about a prostitute who walked in the restaurant, and bam…gunshots…WTF!
Out of all of my feelings throughout the attack, the one that continued all night was literally “What in the world is transpiring right now and how am I here?”
2. “I should have listened to my dad…he told me not to come”
My mission trip to Burkina Faso was originally scheduled for November 2015; however, in September, Burkina Faso had a coup d’etat after nearly three decades of an autocratic leader. As a result, the organization rescheduled our trip for January 2017 after the country settled down.
Because the country’s politics remained unstable, my father asked me not to go on the trip. My dad’s an overly cautious guy, so I just chalked it up to him being prudent. But in the exact moment when I was hiding under a bathroom sink, while members of AQIM ransacked Cappuccino Café and shot people point blank, I was thinking “maybe my extra cautious dad was kinda right.”
3. “I really wish I had my phone right now | I took some great pictures on this trip”
When all you hear are gunshots and car bombs going off for hours on end, your mind goes to a place where you want to think of something peaceful.
Because of this, I started thinking about how all of the lovely pictures on my phone were now useless because I was probably going to die.
Also, 10 minutes prior to the attack, I’d spoken with my parents. I was super sad that I didn’t bring my phone to the bathroom with me because I wanted to say my last goodbye.
4. “There are so many cellphones ringing”
There were about 30 minutes of silence between when the attackers first entered the restaurant and when they returned. During this silence, all I heard were the ringing of all of the patron’s cell phones. For that brief time, I grieved all of the lives lost and thought about how sad it was that those phones would never be answered by their loved ones.
5. “I’m holding a married man’s hand right now…I hope his wife doesn’t mind”
While I was hiding in the bathroom, an older man who was hiding under the sink with me reached out to grab my hand. He sensed I was scared and began to comfort me to the best of his abilities. As we both lay awaiting our fates, I glanced briefly at his hand and hoped his wife was okay with us holding hands in our potential last moments of life.
6. “I really don’t want to die this way”
All my life, I’ve lived very sheltered, eating at nice restaurants, going to amazing summer camps, attending great schools. I’d never seen a gun in my life; I’d never gotten in a fight; I’ve never even seen a physical disagreement play out.
So, as I remained under the sink, waiting for my fate, I experienced true fear that I would die at the hands of violence, potentially being shot.
7. “Damn, I didn’t even get my pizza”
Throughout the week in Morpougha, I ate some fairly…interesting foods. Honestly, my team and I had been talking all week about what we were going to order at this restaurant!
At one point during the shooting, my stomach growled for about an hour, and I literally just sighed and thought “I didn’t even get to flipping eat my pizza…”
8. “I promise if I make it out of this alive, I will change my career”
After graduating, I had been suffering horribly in Corporate America working in corporate sales. I was miserable and I hated everything about my job. But, for the first time in a while, I felt pure joy while working in the field, constructing a school in a rural village.
So, after escaping the restaurant and hiding in an alley, I contemplated what my life would look like if I survived. So, I swore to God that if he got me out of the situation alive and uninjured, I would pursue my vocation for education not waste His plan for me on this Earth.
9. “If my big toe gets amputated, I can never wear sandals again”
As I was running into the alley (looking for a safer hiding spot), I tripped and slit my foot open (mainly, my big toe). However, my senses were so heightened for the first couple of hours of my hiding, I barely realized the severity of my injury.
As the morning came, the pain in my foot began to intensify and I started to think about what would happen if I continued losing blood. For some odd reason, I became a doctor in my mind and just knew that the injury I sustained was going to result in an amputation by the time I was saved. In that thought process, I began to wonder how I could wear flip-flops and fun sandals without a big toe. I got really sad, and then it hit me, if I get out of here alive, I could still be cute big toeless.
10. “I don’t want the paparazzi to take my picture with my weave unblended”
After I was rescued that morning, I was placed in an ambulance and rushed to the hospital. During my ride there, I was alone and scared about where I was going.
When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, they took me out on a stretcher. The first thing I saw were dozens of paparazzi snapping photos of me. I was PISSED—I looked AWFUL. All I could think about is was unblended my leave-out was and how my first debut on mainstream media would be with a jacked up weave.
(As you can see, I wasn’t looking my very best).