Near Death Or Second Chance?
October and Halloween. For those that know me, this IS my month. At one time known locally as the Native Son of Horror I was raised on a steady diet of Ghosts, Ghouls, Werewolves, and every other type of monster in-between. This year while watching films like The Dead Zone and Flatliners to get into the spirit I am taken back to a Halloween that would change my life forever. Both films deal with the subject of Near Death experiences and the after effects upon returning to the living world. For whatever reason this year more than past years I am taken back to that one Halloween yrs ago. That one time when everything began and ended all at the same time.
I was 3 months away from finishing college. I was having a renaissance year after correcting the path of my life from a couple years prior. Two art professors taught me to see shapes and patterns in life and how to transcribe them to canvas. I never thought I could draw or paint but that year I was. I was also doing photography for the College Art Magazine and I had re written Hamlet to take on Ophelia’s point of view for the College Theatre. I was very happy, surrounded by a great group of friends and mentors. My mind was tapped directly to that unseen creative river and my art work was more prolific than it ever was. Yes I was still very rough around the edges and had a long way to go BUT I was on the right path. It was all in front of me.
October arrived. I had a dislocated shoulder and missed a week or two of classes. (I was joking with my girlfriend at the time and when I tried to toss her in a large pile of leaves, she dropped me.) Halloween. I carved my pumpkins, made dried apple shrunken heads, and roasted pumpkin seeds. That night I was painting to make up work from the couple weeks prior. Kids came and went for their treats. Later that evening the doorbell rang, the last group of kids. One of the girls was dressed just like my girlfriend right down to the died purple streaks in her hair. She didn’t say a word. When I shut the door the phone rang. It was my girlfriend. She had gone to NYC for the holiday. She was calling to check in on me then the phone connection got full of static…….we tried to talk but then the connection died. I returned to my art work not thinking much of it as I had to pick her up at the bus station the next day anyways.
All Saints Day. My morning session of classes was over. During the afternoon break I was going to go to the mall to get my girlfriend a gift for when I picked her up. As I approached my car at the far end of the lot something strange started to happen. Everything got quiet. I could no longer hear the traffic, the birds, the wind in the leaves and tree branches. Pure silence. Even as I unlocked my car and started the engine – I could hear nothing, except for a voice coming from the back seat of my car. “Don’t go.” it said. I turned to look behind me, I was alone in the car. “Don’t leave this parking lot.” the voice said in a very direct tone. But there was no one in the car with me. Who was talking to me? I thought I was going crazy. I left the parking lot and started to drive away. That was the last thing I would remember clearly for the next 5 years. The silence became stronger. Then I felt disconnected like a balloon slipping out of a child’s hand. Everything became timeless. There were no minutes. No seconds. Just existence. I looked down and saw my car driving along the road. I looked up in the bright sky and I felt ready and free, completed. A different voice spoke to me, told me a set of tasks I had to do.
Then I woke up in ICU. Two priests and my mother were at bedside. I could hear the medical devices. I could hear the commotion in the hallway. I was back, and I wasn’t happy anymore. I have no idea who visited me while I was in ICU. I have no memory of any conversations. I vaguely remember listening to music on my ear buds and trying to watch Legend on tv. The next thing I remember is somehow getting an apartment in Salem MA. I struggled. At one time I was working 3 jobs to pay bills. I was also losing jobs because mentally I was in no shape to grasp everything that needed to be done. I was forgetting things, getting lost driving to jobs. Getting lost trying to get back to the apartment. I lost my creative abilities. I was angry and bitter at God. Angry that I was rejected and turned away from the doorstep. Angry that my abilities were taken away from me. It was as if someone had driven me miles into nowhere and dropped me off with nothing expecting me to get back somehow.
My after life was not like that in the movies The Dead Zone or Flatliners. I couldn’t see into the future. I had no expanded knowledge of the secrets of life, of death or of the mysteries God. Aside from the fact that God was a cold hearted bastard for slamming the door in my face. For a long time I hated – everything. I was so negative crows would stop cawing as I walked past. There was no Hollywood happy ending. I couldn’t connect or empathize with people. I felt very out of place with society. And I was afraid of the Ghosts, Ghouls and Werewolves. I did everything I could to distance myself from death, horror and monsters. I cut my hair and wore normal colored clothing. I had enough of death and wanted nothing to do with it ever again. I often wondered, did I escape death or was I given a second chance in life? Some second chance though.
And what’s left? Still to do this day I am not sure. For years I was restless. Every six months I had to travel, somewhere anywhere. I cannot convey or communicate my thoughts and intentions to others anymore. Very few really get what I’m trying to say. And I often find it hard to read people or understand where they are coming from as well. I exist but am not interwoven with society like I was before. I can go days or even weeks without talking to anyone and I don’t mind at all. Its very difficult to express or feel emotions – good or bad.
About 4 years ago, after my soul and mind could settle down a bit I got fed up with corporate day jobs. A part of my mind started to reflex. I was getting ideas again, characters started talking to me again. I started to see things in my mind again. I have been trying to balance work and art but with the damage to my brain wiring it is frustrating sometimes to get it all to work out. But the desire and need for me to create is back in full force, but what to do with it after all these wasted years? The articles I have written on my website a full of mistakes, fractured thoughts, hap hazardly sewn together like a corpse. And the same goes for when I try to relay these ideas and stories to other people. Its broken and full of static, unclear. Except for in my mind. And then there’s the broken sternum, the damage to my legs, the nerve twitches in my arm, the anxiety attacks and all out stress because I am trying to get my point across and no one is hearing me or even worse laughing at me because what they hear is a garbled mess. And what about the chore I was supposed to do? Is there a time limit? Any additional instructions on how to get it completed? I have no idea. God, if that’s what it was, hasn’t spoken to me since that Halloween all those years ago. I have no idea if I am on the right path or if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
In the end, or at least at this time, I can say that I am trying to get creative projects completed. I have a large group of friends again -and I hope they feel I am their friend as well. I am no longer angry or bitter at God and I try to be as positive as possible. But I am not sure the connected feeling will ever come back or as fully as before the car accident. Halloween, my favorite holiday ever is sometimes the hardest one get through depending on the year or the “reminders” as I call them. Still not sure if I was punished or given a gift. Was it Holy or was it Evil? I just don’t know. But I do know is the next time I hear an invisible voice clearly telling me to do something, I will listen.
For those reading hoping to get answers, I am sorry. I wish I had some nugget of spirituality to share with you all. But in a way my experience has left me more in the dark and with more questions about life and death than ever.