Jeffrey B.

I was 14 years old and seeing my father for the summer. My brother wanted to get something to eat that night. It was late, so we walked up the street to get some hamburgers at Krystal’s and some chocolate chip cookie dough from a convenience store. On the walk back, as we were walking through a parking lot, a teenage driver of a Jeep lost control coming around the curve and careened through the parking lot. The Jeep struck me, but missed my brother. The police later figured out he was driving in excess of 80 mph when he lost control, and probably doing 55 mph when he hit me. I was bent in half around the hood, and was thrown about 45 feet through the air and landed on my head. I only remember walking through the parking lot, talking, when my brother suddenly made a panicked grab for me. As I whipped my head around, I saw a quick flash of headlights, then immediate darkness.

I became aware of the darkness getting lighter and lighter, and then eventually going to a medium shade of gray. Then I became aware that I was floating upward through this grayness. Then I broke through and rose up into this flat plain, with almost like an indistinct mistiness for ‘ground.’ I immediately saw this wall of gray stone blocks on my left. They didn’t seem very tall. Although I don’t have anything for reference, I’d say 20 feet tall. They were large blocks, rough on the surface, and dark gray (like wet stone blocks) that seemed to stretch all the way out to infinity. I was also acutely aware that I had no body. I was facing the wall at like a 30 or 45 degree angle, not looking straight at it, but I could see that it had no end. My eye could follow it as it stretched out to the horizon and beyond. Close by, there was a doorway in the wall. The door was open with the hinge on the right side and opening outwards. Due to the angle, I couldn’t see what was on the other side of the door. Coming out of this doorway were whitish, pearlescent, tendrils of light, which were flowing out and dissipating. I was overcome with an emotional blend of relief, love, and acceptance. I was ‘coming home’ and that everything was going to be alright. As I headed to the light, I could sense there was something on my right. I don’t know what it was, but I could sense it in some way. I never looked away from the light. I knew if I could get past the doorway, that I could stay forever. As I approached the light, I could feel that emotional blend getting stronger and stronger. Before I could cross the threshold, everything went black again.

My next memories are of the hospital. The driver was an underage drinker and kept moving after he hit me, a hit-and-run accident. My 17 year-old brother was inebriated. When confronted with my twisted-up body, he started screaming. The accident happened in the parking lot of some YMCA soccer fields, just after midnight. A lunar eclipse had just occurred and a photographer was in the field taking pictures of it. He heard my brother’s screams and investigated. When he saw what had happened, he helped my brother with CPR, but stopped when things got weird.

The photographer had also been a medic in the Vietnam War and weeks later visited me in the hospital when his wife gave birth. He told me that he was surprised I survived, that he’d seen people die from less, and that they stopped CPR when I shuddered and said, ‘Are you going to bury me?’ The freakishness of that question, coming from someone visibly dead, was too disconcerting. He said that I had no heartbeat and there was no pupil dilation response. He had seen lots of dead people and I was clearly dead. His estimation was that my heart had stopped for at least 8 minutes, before the paramedics arrived and got it going again. My injuries from the impact were severe. I had a fractured skull and brain damage from impact and loss of oxygen. A broken left femur, left ulna, lots of broken ribs, torn ligaments and disks in my back, internal organ damage, cracked teeth, and a large head laceration.

The paramedics arrived and were able to restart my heart, but had accidentally overdosed me on morphine. I was rushed to a local emergency room and not the larger hospital, as they didn’t think I’d survive the trip that far. I was in a coma for a few hours, but came out of it. When I realized I was not in that place of light and love, I was very upset. I felt cheated and rejected. I did not want to be here. When my doctors told me I was lucky to be alive, but also that I was probably going to be paralyzed and mentally diminished: I was filled with so much anger and let them have it. My recovery was very difficult emotionally. My vision was very blurry and I had a lot of pain everywhere. My vitals were weak the first three days, with me passing a lot of blood in my urine. But on the third day everything radically improved, like I did a re-boot. I still had a major concussion and fluid on the brain, and was in traction for my broken left leg and a cast on my left arm. I was there for 7 more weeks until I was discharged, put in a fracture-brace for my leg, and allowed to continue recuperation at home. I was in the brace until December. I had lingering medical issues regarding memory, cognition, speaking, and motor skills for many years. I still don’t remember much from before the event. In all other ways, I’ve made a complete recovery, with only mild back pain and scars.

Wendy S.
Shara G.