It was March 21st, 2002, and I was wrapping up the end of a trade show in Germany which was the largest electronics trade show in the world. At that time I was involved in working trade shows as a third party logistics provider. My team and I were living in a farmhouse in Germany.
There were three other men out with me that evening. We were at a pub celebrating the end of a long month of hard work. During that month, we had use of a large Ford Opel station wagon. We all drank more than we should have and Jay was driving. He insisted that he was okay to drive, so we all got into the station wagon. I think the time was about 10 PM in the evening. I got into the front passenger seat. Matt and Kim slid into the back seats. They did not wear their seat belts, but both Jay and I wore ours.
At this point, I remember this moment clearly: a calm voice in my head told me that I really should wear my seat belt. I was drunk enough to consider not wearing it, but I listened and wore it.
Jay drove the Opel fast, like it was a race car. We left the pub and drove towards the farmhouse. Part of the way back is on a road that curves through a big green field. The road itself was lined with narrow-trunked trees. It was a clear night. The moon was out and the road was dry. However, Jay was driving too fast and the brakes locked up. We were driving at 120 kilometers per hour. I remember the car heading straight for a tree. I was looking at Jay and screamed ‘Oh sh#$, Jay!’ and turning to look at the tree. Then we hit on the passenger side which was my side of the car. It felt like I was hit by the planet across my entire body. I blacked out.
I came back to consciousness thirty seconds later. I am sure of it, even today. There was a loud, angry buzz that I was hearing and I couldn’t figure out what was making the sound. I am not sure if that was the car, or if that was the buzz that I’ve read about by other NDE survivors. I lean towards the latter, but I am not sure. There was smoke drifting through the cabin of the car and I knew immediately that I had to get everyone out of the car. Everyone survived, people rescued us, and we were all taken to the hospital. I did take a moment to look at the car. The car was wrapped four feet up through the engine cabin in front of my seat.
I was having strong post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms afterwards and needed to go to counseling. I wasn’t processing the trauma at all, so I went to a therapist. I don’t remember who the therapist was. After two sessions, he asked if he could conduct a form of rapid eye movement hypnosis on me. The idea was that he would see if he could guide me back to the moment of impact so that my mind and body could process through the trauma on which I was stuck.
He took me back through the process of the accident as described above. Then the therapist asked me to relive the moment of impact. At that moment, I broke out in tears as I suddenly realized and stated: ‘Oh my god, I was dead!’
I remember experiencing two or three feelings at once:
1) An oceanic sense of overwhelming peace
2) A simple, emotionally unencumbered point of view
3) Shock from realization I cannot explain it.
I cannot remember or summon the feel or intensity of those emotions. I can only tell you that I had them. I remember sitting there in that chair, reliving the moment in my head, and I KNEW I was dead.
The therapist then asked me to tell me what I saw at that moment. I remember this image of seeing myself bent over the airbag. It was as if I was against the roof of the car, looking down at my back. I knew I was dead. The next thing I knew, I was standing in what I believe was that field, looking at the car. A bright light shone down at me through the trees. I remember being told somehow that it wasn’t my time, and I had to go back because there were things I needed to do. I said ‘Okay’ and went back.
I remember exclaiming to the therapist, ‘Why did I have to come back?’ That feeling was so amazing. I was saddened that I had experienced it and could not go back to it. That was the last time I saw that therapist, as my manager didn’t like me taking time off during work to get counseling. I had to put that whole experience on the shelf and get on to living.
What is frustrating about all of this is that I remember feeling that amazing sense of peace and remember recalling those images in my head. But I cannot resurrect the feel of it. It all feels like echoes in my head when I recall the incident. I am left with this nagging doubt that perhaps I imagined it all. I know that isn’t true but it is just a constant struggle. I worry that perhaps the therapist implanted the memories, or that I was led to imagine it all. But I do know I experienced that oceanic sense of peace (I keep saying oceanic because that is the best adjective to describe it), and I heard that buzzing. I remember those two brief flashes of image. If those memories were invented, then why didn’t I come up with something grander? The simplicity of it all is what somehow keeps all the doubts at bay.