There's nothing more liberating or frightening than nearly dying. It's that moment that adrenaline junkies search for but rarely achieve, healthcare professionals and trained to spot but rarely see, yet, here I am having traversed that divide and nearly a year later it still wakes me up at night terrified.
When I was young I lived in a small town named Hanover, West Virginia. I have precious few memories from this time but one sticks out. Fear, it seems, had that effect on the mind, it forces memories upon you. I remember riding my bike across a bridge that by my standards today would rate unsafe at best. While going across, one of the training wheels on my bike went over the edge and I went with it. It was an incredibly hot summer, so the creek bed that the bridge traversed was dry. Nothing at the bottom to greet me but stone and wood. From what I remember I was nearly knocked out and to my good fortune somebody witnessed my fall and carried me home; broken bicycle and all.
Flash forward nearly 25 years later and I experience another fall. Only this time I gained a new insight into my life. I am one of the few "adrenaline junkies" who has taken the pursuit of death too far and managed to return with, not only my life, but a story to go with it. I didn't get to experience my life flash before my eyes, I saw no bright light at the end if a tunnel. No. I saw my life keep going without me. I saw the devastation on the faces if those who loved me. This made me realize that the hollywood version of impending death I grew up with was all a lie. The only thing that troubles me is why. Does it sell better to think that when you die you get to have a countdown of your greatest hits?
It has been nearly a year since I had that fall. Since I had that feeling of "impending doom" we call it in the healthcare world. That brief moment between falling and impacting where I knew I was going to die. Yet, here I am, at 0532 talking to you. I relive this moment more than I would like to comment on. I have this desire to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, and take something from it. A piece of the wood I landed on, maybe several pieces. I want to take that symbol that lives in my subconscious and either burn it or transform it to something beautiful, I just can't decide which. I can tell you that nearly dying, for real, not the skydiving/bungee jumping version, the who will take care of Kate, Bryson, Logan, mom...etc version is nothing like the movies tells us it will be. No, it seems to me that if you do see a light at the end of that tunnel make sure it's not a train. If you're blessed enough to have the family support I have then you're going to make it work somehow, at least I know I'm going to; but that doesn't change the dreams. That new connection formed between 5 year old me and 29 year old me, where we are falling and just hoping life continues at the bottom, not only life, but one that can change the world.