Matthew H.

I felt ill, so went home instead of going to class. I started to have a funny feeling in my chest, so I called 911. The paramedics stated that I was jovial and talkative. When I was asked to hop off the gurney and onto the emergency room table, I collapsed and fell flat on my face. I fractured my skull and collapsed so suddenly.

I remember the emergency medical technicians working feverishly around me. I could sense them more than see them, but I knew they were working desperately to revive me. I was completely calm. Then I would be revived and plunged into chaos. Then when I lost consciousness again, everything was calm again. The next thing I was actually aware of was several days later.

I was unconscious, lying flat in my bed, and unable to move or speak. Several doctors were around my bed, discussing whether to operate on me immediately or to wait. My kidneys were not functioning very well, and one of the doctors felt surgery would kill me due to renal failure. I faded out again, and regained consciousness again after five days.

In the interim time, between the time I lost consciousness and my first regaining of consciousness, I was walking alone along a river of ashes. That is the best way I can describe it. The water wasn’t wet and it did not offer any relief from a burning thirst. The water was hot and abrasive. I remember looking around and everything was shadows and darkness. I was utterly alone.

Then a hand was offered to me, ‘Come with me.’ I took the hand and was lifted into a diffuse, effusive light. I was surrounded by thousands of voices, with no confusion and nobody trying to talk over the others. I could recognize every individual voice, even some speaking in languages I recognized, but do not speak. I understood them all. My life was poured out. Every voice looked through it, and asked many questions. I answered what I could. When everything was done, I realized I was not worthy of the company of my ancestors. This was dismissed by my ‘narrator’ who was my guide through this. He said, ‘You are your own harshest judge, and always will be. It is not because you are unworthy, but because you have unfinished business to attend to. You can go back if you choose’. With that, I opened my eyes for the first time in five days.

Steven T.
Shadow N.