Is there life, after death? I'm sure that every one of us has asked ourselves that question at one time or another, especially after a close brush with it. I'm not here to debunk other people's claims, I just wish to give you my personal perspective on it, having come back from death a few times. Here is my story.
On March 18, 1970 my boss and I picked up his 1965 Corvair convertible at a reputable service-center, in Saugus, Massachusetts. He drove me down to Brockton, Massachusetts and took me to his home where we would be spending the night. Ed introduced me to his mom and dad, and we went out and hit some bars. After a fun night, we decided to call it quits. We gassed-up before going home. Coming out of the service-station, onto a long straight road, Ed wanted to see how well they had tuned-up his car; he asked me first. I gave him the nod, knowing he was a skilled driver.
He wound it out...first gear...second...third. We must have been doing 80-90 miles per hour when we both heard a loud "WHOOMP!" The right-front wheel had blasted through the right fender, and we left the road at a 90 degree angle, to the right, through a set of hedges.
Time almost stood still. Lucky it was 2AM, and nobody was sitting at a picnic-table in their back yard. We hit it at high speed and I watched it disintegrate in slow-motion; I could see each individual piece fly through the air. To my horror I could see an oak tree, some three feet in diameter, 60 feet in front of us. I knew we were going to hit it, head on. In that ultra-micro-second, I knew we were going to be dead. Instinctively, I put both feet up on the dash and braced for the impact I knew was to come. Time slowed even more, my whole life played out for me on Gods' big movie-screen. I will never forget it. Just two feet from impact I blacked-out. God and his Mercy.
Much to my surprise, I awoke in the car, the wind-screen was gone, and the tree was now just two feet in front of my face. My knees were up behind my ears. Ed was conscious, too. He told me not to touch my face. Ed's right-femur was fractured, compound, and impaled into my left buttock...we were then true "blood-brothers." My right hand, and both ankles were crushed between the dash and my seat. I knew I was hurt very badly, but felt no pain. (We were told later that the gas-tank was pushed out the driver's side of the car and did not rupture, and that we were fortunate that it was filled to the brim or it would have exploded!)
The Brockton Fire Department Rescue Unit arrived in minutes, God bless them all, they saved my life! They chained the car to the tree, then ripped the convertible roof off the car using a wrecker. A fireman came up behind me, and told me they were going to take me out. Please do! The fireman gave a yell, and slid his hands under my armpits. There was a loud metal-grating sound as the wrecker pulled on the rear of the car, and the car came apart, releasing me. I blacked out as the fireman began to lift me.
I awoke in the ER of a hospital...I could tell it was the ER by the bright lights shining in my face. A doctor asked me my name and I told him. He asked where I lived, I told him. The doctor told me to count from three, to one. I never made it to two.
I awoke, again, ten days later. I was lying flat on my back in ICU. I had tubes coming out of everywhere. Dr. William Donahue, a bright, cheerful man whom I liked instantly, told me that I was in Cardinal Cushing General Hospital, in Brockton. He had more to tell me: That I was one lucky guy. That I was DOA, and it was lucky they recusitated me, immediately. If my wreck happened more than just one mile from this hospital, I would be dead now. Had it been just 30 seconds more, before they got me to the ER, I would have been brain-dead. I was lucky this hospital was one of the two in the whole USA that had the new experimental defibrillators, the paddle they shock you back to life with. (Massachusetts General Hospital being the one other.) He told me I died no less than four times in ICU over the past ten days.
Dr. Donahue told me all the injuries I had suffered. Nothing had been done to me yet, they had to get me stable, first. I had both ankles pulverized. My right femur had the ball broken off, both ends. Fractured pelvis. Fractured right wrist, with two broken fingers, little and ring. Fractured skull with minor brain damage. Upper jaw, and lower jaw, fractured. The whole right side off my face was crushed. Collapsed right lung...I had a large tube inserted to drain it. In other words, I was a basket-case.
Dr. Donahue then proceeded to tell me how they were going to fix me up. He went into great detail, and it gave me the hope I needed to get through the whole ordeal. I had to have a portable X-ray machine wheeled in every two hours, to take pictures of my lungs, I could not be moved to X-ray. I came to dread seeing that machine rolling in. They would lift me a bit, to slide the X-ray plate under me, and even though I was on the highest possible dose of morphine they could give me without killing me. The pain was excruciating. Dr. Donahue suspected a back-injury that wasn't showing up on a regular X-ray. He scheduled me for a "myelogram" a proceedure where a doctor injects a radio-active dye into your spinal-column, then you're tilted up into a standing position, on an X-ray table, so the dye can run down through your spinal-column. Where the dye stops is where there is a problem. No fun when your stood up onto crushed ankles, broken femur, hip...all not fixed, yet! It was discovered, indeed, I did have two compression-fractures at L4 and L5. A grand total of 17 broken bones. Had I been wearing a seat-belt, I would have been cut in half. (I will advise everyone to wear them, my case was just a freak of circumstance.)
I won't bore you with the long recovery. I want to get to the point of my story: Those people that tell you they died and floated out of their bodies, and were looking down upon themselves, etc, etc.. I suspect they weren't even close to death, or they were on a good tab of LSD. I could very well be wrong about the people who make such claims; the human mind is so complex and may never be fully understood in the whole lifetime of mankind. As a result of my experiences with my own "death," I have become even more afraid of death than I was before all this happened to me. The closest thing to death is: When you are very tired and you go to sleep at your normal time. You sleep for eight to nine hours without any dreams whatsoever. You awaken; now try and remember the past eight to nine hours! You damn well can't. There is a void. That is what it is like to be dead. And that is the scary part. You don't go to an "after-life." There is no Heaven, there is no Hell. There is only that void when you cease to exist. Although, you will live on, in your family and friends' imaginations, memories, sorrows. That is your only immortality. I guess we will really never know for sure, until we really die, and never come back.
Through sheer will-power, and several years of rehab, I got on my feet once again. Ed, the driver, suffered a broken right femur and broke his right arm, and a number of wine bottles hit him in the back of his thick skull at about 60 MPH. (Never, ever, leave bottles above the back-seat of your car, in the window area!) He fully recovered and we are still good friends. By 1979, I was walking without the aid of a cane. Due to damage to my right eye, I have worn an eye-patch since 1970, in the style of Kurt Russell in Escape From New York.
I battled drug-addiction up until the year 2000. I was badly addicted to pain-killers, Demerol was my favorite. Now, I live each day of my life as if it will be my last. Uncle Sam, the U.S. Veteran's Administration And U.S. Social Security Administration gave me a good pension, and I live happily ever after to this day. I still fear death more than ever. I fear the void.
As a post-script: The cause of our accident was determined. The mechanic who had replaced the whole front steering assembly was rushed by his boss. The mechanic left off the clamps on the steering-adjustment-sleeve (r-wheel). As we drove, the sleeve slowly spun off. It reached the bitter-end, just as we reached third-gear at about 90 miles per hour. The rest is history. I sued the service-center, who did the work. They settled, quietly, out-of-court, to the tune of 150 thousand U.S. Dollars ($150K) Had I not been so impatient, and fought it out in court, I could have got millions out of this big company. I had to give my attornies one third of the settlement. Hospitals, and doctors took $37K. And I blew the rest of the money on sex, and drugs, and rock and roll. The money finally ran out, after a year in the Philippines. My Mom called and told me the U.S. Veteran's Administration and U.S. Social Security Administration were giving me a life-time pension, now that I was destitute once again. I had the pension since 1970, but it stopped when I got the settlement in 1976. I had no idea that I could ever get it back. I wondered: How much more lucky could I get?
Beware the ides of March! I hope none of you go to the void until your time is up. Delay it, long as you possibly can. There is no future in death, that I, know of.