There I was, lying on my hospital bed getting mentally prepared for the surgery I was about to undergo. It was nothing major, just having my appendix removed as a cautionary measure, and besides I had all my loved ones around me for support. My parents, some friends, and my girlfriend; all telling me that they would be here when I woke up and that there was nothing to worry about.
At this point the nurse came in and told me it was time to get prepped for the OR, which essentially meant I was being moved from my already small room to an even smaller room near the OR while the surgeon and nurses prepared. I remember waiting for the surgery and not being nervous at all, and then the nurse came in and brought me into the operating room. Before I knew it I had a mask over my mouth and the surgeon was telling me to count back from ten, everything got kind of fuzzy from there.
At least until I woke up, I looked around and saw my mom and girlfriend talking to a doctor, crying. “It was a million to one shot” he was telling them, “He just reacted poorly to the anesthetic, there’s nothing we can do.” I was growing concerned by what the doctor was saying, I went to say something but, no words escaped my mouth, my lips didn’t even move. In fact I couldn’t move at all. I could see and hear but I was completely paralyzed, I looked over at my heart monitor to see that I had no apparent heart rate; my other vitals seemed to be nonexistent as well.
I looked back at my crying family, my mother was hugging my girlfriend to console her, after a few moments she walked over to me. “I’ll always love you” she said with tears in her eyes and grief in her voice. As she leaned down to kiss me I tried as hard as I could to yell back to her, I tried will all my strength to just move a little to show her I’m alive, to no avail. After the kiss she continued to sob and then walked out, my mother sat at my bedside and just cried for hours. I so badly wanted to say or do anything to offer her consolation, but all I could do is watch her in agony as she cried over the thought of losing her son.
After what seemed like days a man in a suit walked in and said “Hi there’s Mrs. Lewis, I’m Joe from the funeral home, I’m so sorry for your loss.” My mother wiped her tears, stood up and shook the man’s hand. “Thank you for coming so quickly, I’m not really quite sure how all this works.” She said in a grief stricken and misinformed tone.
Although I was still hooked up the heart monitor which showed no heart beat I started to feel anxious and felt as if my heart was beating so quickly and with such intensity that it was going to come right out of my chest. “Well” he began “My associate and I are going to take his body back to the funeral home for storage and prep until the day of the services, after which we will accompany you and your family and friends to the cemetery to aid you in burying him.” Burying me? This has to be a mistake, how could I be in a hospital surrounded by doctors, arguably the smartest people in the world, and not one of them could tell I was alive. Were my eyes even moving as I looked around the room? Before I knew what was happening I was being lifted, put on a stretcher and being wheeled out. There was never a moment in my life before where I felt more dread then I did right now, knowing what I was about to go through and being unable to object. One final time I tried to just scream out to my mother, for anyone, to help me; but all that came out was the faintest stream of air I’d ever blown, accompanied by the final tears of a mourning mother.
Upon reaching the exit of the hospital the stretcher was lifted into what I can only assume was a hearse, the ride bordered on psychological torture. The only thing I can think to compare it to is the feeling of despair that death row inmates have as they walk to their execution, knowing they are about to die but also knowing there is nothing they can do about it, quite the deadly paradox. The car stopped and I could hear car doors opening and closing, before long I was being taken out of the car and pushed into the basement of some building, presumably the funeral home.
Once there I was moved on to another table, the first thing they did to me here was shut my eye lids, I cannot tell you how crippling it was to lose one of my only remaining senses, knowing more likely than not, it would never return. I could feel them stripping off my clothes, I felt so exposed and violated. I could hear the idle chatter of two men who were working there but my senses were soon overwhelmed by some liquid being spread all over my body, as if by a fire hose. It had a very odd smell, and it started to burn my skin. I was in such pain but I was still unable to flinch or scream, despite wanting to so badly. After the seemingly endless preparation I was dressed again, what happened after almost drove me insane, that is of course assuming that I had any sanity left at this point. I was stored in one of those drawers they keep dead bodies in; those are refrigerated by the way. I seemed to be in this frozen wasteland for what felt like years, never hearing a sound, or feeling anything aside from the blistering cold; which only wasn’t damaging my skin at all because of the embalming fluid. I was sure they’d forgotten about me, at least until I was abruptly taken from the drawer and placed into what felt like a coffin.
From there I was moved into another room and could hear voices, one of them sounded like my mother. “Here we are Mrs. Lewis, everyone still coming for 3?” this voice was different then the man from the hospital.
“Yes that’s right, he looks so peaceful in there it’s really a bit of a relief.” As the day went on I could hear the rustle and bustle of hundreds of different people, each with their own comments ranging from “He was so young” all the way to “It could be worse, could have happened to someone promising.” That really added insult to injury, though who was I to be offended I was practically dead. My younger brother gave my eulogy; it was very odd, I never knew that he knew me so well or could articulate something in such a meaningful, albeit depressing way.
After a few more awkward hellos and goodbyes I was on the move again. In a very short time the coffin was closed, this was starting to make me sweat, even though I could not see I could tell I was entranced in darkness unlike any I’d ever experienced. It wasn’t long before I felt myself being lowered slowly into the ground, at this point I’d all but given up and almost accepted my death, perhaps I was dead and this was the first part of the afterlife.
Slowly I could hear dirt being thrown on top of me, until the sound became so faint that I knew the hole had to be closed. It was at this moment which I thought I would feel total peace and release from my body; I could not have been more wrong. What I felt at that moment was the worst thing I could have imagined feeling, it wasn’t bugs, or anxiety or dread, no it was far worse. I felt my finger move, and ever so slowly I felt all feeling coming back into my body.