Bob Kennedy, 56
Last September, my heart stopped. For 10 minutes I was clinically dead. Dead, people. And you know how they say that when you die you sort of rise above yourself, and you’re floating there, looking down on your lifeless vessel, and your family is outside the room crying hysterically while the doctors are frantically doing everything they can to resuscitate you, and your spirit version of yourself has this huge decision to make—you know, like, a “Should I stay or should I go?” type of thing?
Yeah, it wasn’t like that at all. I don’t recall if my family was even there. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a single detail about the whole ordeal—just waking up with that goddamn tube in my ding-dong.
Samantha Paulson, 32
As I lay bleeding to death with a crushed skull and broken spine, pressed cruelly within the mangled frame of what used to be my Volkswagen Passat, my head began to swim and my body to feel light as a feather. By this time the pain had subsided, giving way to a euphoric feeling, something almost otherworldly. All I could see was this light, and I was like, “This is it, I am going to die. I am going to the other side now.” I could have sworn I saw an angel in the distance, beckoning me forth, assuring me it would be OK. Let go, it whispered airily. Let go.
Well, the angel turned out to be a 220-pound unshaven paramedic with a flashlight screaming at me to unclench my hands from the steering wheel so they could extricate my contorted body from the wreckage, which apparently was about to explode. Go figure. Excessive blood loss and cranial trauma can really muddle your cognitive abilities, I guess.
Jaime Veracruz, 5
When I fell down in the well, it was really cold and really, really dark. I was sooooo hungry and I had to pee. And I couldn’t breathe good.
The police man gave me a fuzzy blanket.
Daniel Hennessy, 79
I still can’t believe I came out of the coma. Christ, nine months—everyone thought I was a goner.
People always ask me now, what was it like? You know, being that close to death for so long. You know what I tell them? It was boring as hell. All this damn modern medical technology and the doctors couldn’t figure some way to mainline some television programs into my neurobiological network or something? Some Sudoku? I mean, pull the dang plug already. Anything but that godforsaken soundless black void!
Jesus, talk about a crappy-ass nine months.
Guy Swanson, 45
POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK
I don’t mean to sound corny or anything, but when you get mauled by a grizzly bear your entire life truly does flash before your eyes. Fierce blows to the head and torso strike from all sides like flying cinder blocks. Razor-sharp claws rip flesh and muscle from bones, which all proceed to snap like twigs as the animal then pounces on you in a crushing fashion, smothering you to the point of breathlessness. No longer able to scream due to your crushed windpipe and collapsed left lung, you simply acquiesce.
It is then that thoughts about your loved ones begin to enter your head. They are going to have to live with the image of you dying like this—ripped apart by the naked ferocity of the wild, mangled past recognition, having suffered beyond all human understanding.
Memories of them rush in like a flash flood: your son’s first steps, his first Little League hit, making love to your wife on the beach in Fiji, walking for the first time into the home you purchased together. It will all be gone soon. Nature has spoken in ultimate fashion.
Then the bear takes this gigantic-ass dump on you, which they apparently like to do, you know, to mark their food in case another bear comes along or whatever. Anyway, the whole experience pretty much sucked.