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The Llewellyn Journal
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Trip Through a Train

This article was written by P. J. van Heerden
posted under

It was so real our minds could not accept it. It was just after dark, some time between 1960 and 1970. Pam and I and our three children, then aged about five, seven, and nine, were traveling home by car. We’d overstayed our visit to relatives a bit and I was concentrating on my driving. The road was narrow, twisty, and bumpy. The lights on our old car were not all that good, and the headlights of the occasional oncoming car were blinding. To make matters worse, the road we were travelling was intersected by numerous, almost concealed, railroad crossings.

We’d been on the road awhile and the kids were querulous and noisy. I was probably driving a bit too fast in my annoyance. There was a sharp bend in the road. I braked and turned. The headlights swung around and lit up the side of a boxcar moving along a railway track crossing the road less than 10 paces ahead of us. I braked hard, although I knew it was useless; there were more boxcars coming and more moving away.

The tires screeched, the children screamed, and Pam covered her mouth to stifle an “Oh my God!” I wrestled with the steering wheel, but we were in an uncontrollable forward skid. The noise of the railway carriages moving along the track sounded like the knell of doom.

Clickety-clack.
Clickety-clack!
CLICKETY-CLACK!

I closed my eyes and resigned myself to having caused the death of my family. I prayed to God that it wasn’t so.

Clickety-clack.
Clickety-clack!
CLICKETY-CLACK!-Behind us!
I opened my eyes. The car was stationary. The trees on the other side of the railway track were in front of us. They’d been partially obscured by the moving boxcars. I looked back, over the heads of the children who were also staring through the rear window. The boxcars were still going by.

Clickety-clack.
Clickety-clack!
CLICKETY-CLACK!

We’d driven through the train!

Don’t tell me we were all hallucinating, or that it was a ghost train, or that the car had spun around to face back the way we’d come. It was real. It was solid. We could hear the wheels rumbling across the tracks. We could feel the vibrations of the passing train. We could see the little lanterns swinging high up on the sides of the boxcars. It was so real that our minds could not accept it. We forgot about it almost immediately after we resumed our journey without crossing the tracks again.

Years later, when our children were young adults, I remembered something about the incident. Too afraid to subject myself to ridicule, but confident that Pam would be objective if my imagination was playing tricks on me, I asked, “Tootsie, did we ride through a train once?”

Pam looked at me, at first surprised, then astonished. “Yes,” she said. “I’d forgotten about it but now that you mention it, yes. It was at that railway crossing near Leslie. It was dark and the kids were still small.”

She went on to recount all the details as I remember them. What’s more, she verified the incident with each of the children individually, only prompting their memories with the event and leaving them to fill in the details.

I mention this incident because it is one of those that we experienced together; we could call each other as witnesses. We have had more such experiences, alone and together. Telling the truth would not make any difference to those who would consider us to be a family of liars or weirdos.

It doesn’t matter if we’re believed or not. What happens to us helps or retards only us in our spiritual development. Sharing our experiences can only give others cause to reflect. They have their lives to live and we have ours. Perhaps they’ve also forgotten-or chosen to forget-about some things.


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