01 Feb I’ve Seen what Happens after Death: A Note from the World’s Luckiest Man
I am what many would perceive as the luckiest man on Earth.
Well, maybe saying something such as this is a tad hyperbolic. I’m no jackpot winner, but I do have my fair share of blessings. So, let’s contextualize just how fortunate I have been over the years, shall we? I say we start at the beginning. Like, the very beginning. Yeah, we’re going a long way back for this. When it comes to my mother, it’s very easy to say that she had no redeeming qualities in any way, shape, or form. While carrying me in the womb, her top priority was not me, but rather drinking and consuming a rather large quantity of drugs. She lived a nomadic lifestyle which could be explained by her constant financial struggles. I suppose chasing one’s desires and allowing temptation to be that which governs life is more appealing to some than creating a safe environment for a future family.
What I’m getting at here is that I survived despite the many, many chances that I wouldn’t. When I ask myself how favored I have been throughout my life, my birth is, of course, the first thing that comes to mind. Things do not stop there, however, because of several complications that would present themselves in the future. For one, I had severe asthma throughout my childhood. I frequently reminisce of the plentiful times where I had to carry a machine with me to breathe. I often had to miss many days of school due to my excessively weak immune system. I was very prone to disease, and when I became sick, it would take me far longer than average to recover.
Life progressed, as did I. Although my health had increased, I cannot say the same for my intelligence. Yeah, that’s a knock on myself, but I can’t call it unjustified considering the number of times I risked my life without even recognizing it. From poking a fork into an electric socket to tying a fishing line around my wrists tightly, I certainly wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
Well, I would assume that by now the point has been made about my blessings. It’s a strange thing to look back on, you know. The memories I have of my thoughts and feelings of those times; they all juxtapose my current situation. Having the cold, metal barrel of a gun against my temple sends shivers down my spine. I feel so overwhelmed by the sentimentality and stress I feel coursing through my veins. The past and present collide together, sparking a fire within my head. My fingers claw through my tangled hair and lip quivers nearly as fast as my intensely beating heart throbbing in my chest.
I need to swallow the lump in my throat and collect myself. I need to breathe deeply. I need to wipe the tears from my eyes and the sweat from my brow.
Look, all this thinking isn’t for nothing. It’s not like I’m invulnerable. I’ve been cut and bruised and bombarded by the ones I love. I’m no stranger to feeling vulnerable and damaged. The only question which resides within my mind now is this.
Why me? It is my hope that this note will provide you, and perhaps myself, with the answer to the madness which has engulfed my life.
The memory of the night it happened is hard to remember for me. I recall stumbling out of the pub as the moonlight illuminated the parking lot. I shouldn’t have started the damn car. Even I could smell my horrendously intoxicated breathe as I shut the door behind me. I sloppily adjusted the window mirror, its smooth, gleaming surface giving me a glimpse of myself. The dark rings around my eyes and the glossy, scarlet coloring of my sclera were very telling of my state at that time. Yet, with the turn of a key, my ignition roared, and off I drove into the night.
I couldn’t tell you how long I rode along the rural road that evening. The glimmering stars in the sky turned to a blur as my vision and hearing turned fuzzy. The landscape was desolate aside from the trees which swiftly passed me by. Strange, isn’t it? How rapidly a situation can completely devolve into something horrid. One second, I was traveling alone in a secluded area, and a blaring horn and brilliant light flooded my eyes and ears the next. After that… nothing. I don’t remember the impact, only darkness which quickly enveloped me.
Upon regaining consciousness, the first thing I noticed was the crimson blood that smeared my steering wheel. My hands clenched the door handle tightly, and with all my might, I pushed the door open and crawled out of the vehicle. My palms pressed against my head and my knees shuddering; I ogled the scene displayed before my eyes. Compared to the damage done to other car and its driver, my suffering was nothing at all. The small van that I collided with was bent inwards in the front, its windshield completely shattered. I stumbled my way over to the passenger side and peered inside the window. Within the car sat a young woman, her head leaned back in her seat. Her mouth sat slightly open, and her wide-open eyes were glossy and rolled back, devoid of life. Glass shards pierced her body, soaking her clothes in the blood that leaked from her wounds. Her nose had been smashed and pushed back into her skull. Chunks of flesh that had once been on her face now remained on the leather steering wheel.
A sickly yellow vomit erupted from my throat and splashed onto the road. My stomach would empty itself for several minutes, each heave and lurch taking the oxygen from my lungs and bringing about a stream of hot tears. They dropped onto the pavement along with my insides, and this kept up until all that remained within my gut was air. My head pulsated from the pain that I felt, as if a mallet was being bashed into my cranium non-stop. Whether this was brought about by what was left of my hangover or the grotesque scene before me, I do not know. I reached into my pocket for my phone. I tried to turn it on, but it was dead, and I knew that the road that I was on was so dormant that it might take the rest of the day for help to arrive.
Clenching my jaw tightly shut, I turned back to the vehicle before me, eyes darting around to avoid seeing the corpse once more. I could see a phone on the floor by the passenger side of the car. Walking to the other side of the car, I curled my sweat-drenched fingers into a fist and began to pound on the window. After a few strikes, I broke through the glass and was able to reach the phone. When the police arrived, the alcohol was pretty much out of my system. While the accident was deemed my fault based on circumstantial evidence, the charges I faced were nowhere close to how bad they should have been.
I of course sent my best wishes to the girls’ family, but it wasn’t enough. No amount of retribution could ever mend the hearts of the people my actions had wounded. I didn’t attend her funeral. In fact, I couldn’t even bring myself to ask the family if I could have. How could I face those who surely despised me with every ounce of their being? Such a thing is implausible, to say the least. So, what did I do? I tried to let such memories fade into obscurity. A fruitless trial of course, but my cowardice and inability to face what I had done and who it effected plagues me in every waking moment of every day. I should have done better. I wish I had done better. Yet, I didn’t, and it’s too late to change that.
As I write this, I look down at my right arm. The scars and bruises I received from breaking that window cover the surface of my arm. They exist as physical reminders of the deep emotional cuts that still haven’t healed. The gun still sits beside me on my desk, and I can’t help my straying eyes wandering over to it. The thought of using it on myself is tempting, but I shouldn’t. Not yet, anyway. You see, I don’t wish to end my life because of the accident, or any specific actions I have done at all for that matter. There’s something else. Something more compels me to try and take my life. So please, allow me to further explain my predicament.
Fast forward a few years, I came home from work to find my front door unlocked. I gripped the doorknob and swallowed the saliva which coated my throat. I had thought that maybe I had simply forgotten to lock the house up before I left earlier. After conjuring comforting explanations in my head, I gently pushed the door ajar and place one foot inside my home. As soon as I entered the living room, my jaw practically dropped to the floor. everything was in disarray, from papers spread across the floor to chairs moved and knocked over. I took a few steps forward, slowly treading further into the room. I stopped dead in my tracks, holding my breath. One of the footsteps that landed on the polished oak floor didn’t line up with my own. Another step was taken. It wasn’t mine.
When the blade entered my back, it shredded through my tissue and went down to bone. My jaw catapulted open and a shriek akin to that of a banshee escaped my mouth. I collapsed to the floor, hitting my head against the table leg. I looked up at my assailant, and he stared into my eyes. In front of me was the visage of a man with pure hatred stitched into his expression. His pupils had dilated beyond what I thought was humanly possible. He charged me and knelt on my stomach, burying the blade deep within my chest with one swift motion. My head threw back and I screamed bloody murder. I desperately reached my hand up and clawed at the man’s face, and in retaliation, he repeatedly slammed my body against the floor. At that moment, I thought it was over, that my life would come to a violent end. I could no longer feel the pain then as I had prior. I felt numb, and all I could do was look into those maddening eyes. I would die a life of mediocrity and regret, where the remembrance of my time on this Earth would be deliberately forgotten as the steady marching of time continued. My eyes closed as the depressing thought of the end of my days consumed me.
Suddenly, I heard a sickening crack. The fingers that had once held such a strong grip on me faltered, and soon I had been released. Reality rushed back to me, and I pushed myself away from the man who was now sprawled across the floor, a grimace stitched into his face. A large pot had fallen from the top shelf of my cabinet and onto his head, causing him to bleed profusely from his scalp. His knees shook as he tried to find his balance. The agony I had felt resurged, and I held my tongue firmly to stifle my cries. Now back on his feet, the man methodically made his way towards me, swaying side to side and extending his arms in my direction. I was confronted by a myriad of possibilities at that moment as a surge of questions came to me at once. What would he do to me? How could I stop him? Do I have a chance at survival? A disgusting sloshing sound produced by the man walking through the pool of blood that sat where I once was caught my attention. He instantly accelerated towards me, but in his quick burst of speed, he slid on the slippery surface and missed his target. His body fell into the wall and the force repelled him back, crashing to the ground. A fresh puddle of gore emerged where he fell. His neck had landed on the spot where the knife lay, and the serrated edge had gashed his throat.
I made my way towards and took off my shirt, attempting to create some sort of bandage for him. I knew he had tried to kill me, but despite that and my serious injuries, I tried my best to save the man’s life. I didn’t want to deal with yet another cold carcass in my sight. I looked into his eyes once more, and the anger that I had previously seen in them had been replaced with sadness. His blood was oozing through my shirt and trickling onto my hands, and the color was draining from his face. With every breath he took, his chest rose less, until the movement was hardly noticeable at all. He raised his hand to my collar and softly gripped it, expending almost all his energy in the process. His lips parted, and he spoke to me, his voice faint and dry.
“Why couldn’t you have just stayed off the road, asshole.”
His voice trailed off and his eyes closed. I couldn’t react to what he said, nor could I move a single muscle. The lifeless body in my living room fell from my arms as I stared into the void, my mouth agape. Memories of that fateful night flooded back to me once more, and my entire body shook with such a ferocity that I had not imagined possible. My nose felt clogged, my lungs congested. I gasped for oxygen that my body had begun to deprive me of. I felt light as a feather, yet the weight in my chest carried the burden of an anvil. As sudden as my descent into panic had begun… it ended. The pressure faded away, and I collapsed to the floor, bloody and bruised. With all the might I could foster, I grappled for my telephone and called for help.
Many hours and stitches later, my doctor entered the room where I was resting. He approached me; a smile plastered on his face.
“You’re a very lucky man, you know. The stab wounds you sustained were bad, but nothing fatal. If the blade had entered your body only a few inches further in either direction, you wouldn’t be here today. It’s very fortunate that you’re alive.”
“Yeah, just my luck,” I responded. I didn’t care to say anything else, for the man’s final words were all I could think of.
Looking back on these moments, I lifted my shirt and grazed my fingers along the scar along my back. The texture is different from the rest of my body. Another injury, another reminder of why I’m making this note. Even still, I need to face those thoughts and finish this writing. It’s odd how different our perspectives will be upon reading this text in the future. I think, after many months of retrospect and research, that you what may find as a suicide note is to me a text which serves to record my life so that I may look back on it, if my theory about my good fortune is to be true. My life both draws near to its end, and yet it will only continue from here. I suspect this is not the first time such a thing has occurred. It is, however, the first time I shall document it. It sounds contradictory, I know, but something tells me that I might not be too far off the mark.
I can feel the pain swelling within me, and not just in the form of emotional torment. I feel physically ill. My ribs are visible through my rough, leathery skin, and my arms have grown weary just from this minute amount of writing. I sleep twelve hours a day on average, and that doesn’t include the various naps I take throughout the afternoon. I need to finish this quickly, so I think it’s time I write candidly to you about my latest plight, and the reason why I ultimately believe I need to go through with my “suicide”.
I’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer. When the news was revealed to me, I didn’t know how to feel. I thought I could make it through this. I’ve always made it, haven’t I? No matter the odds, luck was always in my favor. This offered little comfort to me once the pain began to gradually increase, however. My will to eat, drink and work has greatly diminished. I took off from work of course, because what’s the point? Most people would use this opportunity to spend as much time with their loved ones as possible. They would make a bucket list of everything they have ever wanted to do and fulfill those goals. That was my impression of what one did when they knew they had limited time on this earth, anyway. I suppose my expectations were wrong. I don’t currently do any of those things, because all I can do is sleep. I rest and eat a small portion every day and spend the rest of my time watching the television. I don’t waste away and expect pity out of it. I don’t need any condolences, because although my life has had plenty of pain that I brought onto myself, dying with regrets is not what I am afraid of. I sit in my chair, my fingers spread across my keyboard. I cup my hands and breathe into them, and then move them to my nose and take in the stench of my stale breathe. I haven’t brushed my teeth in weeks. My shower has remained dormant for just as long. Motivation is lacking, morale is low. Yet I type and type, detailing my experiences for all to see.
My eyes dart across the room to the clock. It’s later than I usually stay up, but this is important. What can I say? I have a message that needs delivering. I don’t think my plight is solely my own. My luck is beyond that which any man, woman, or child could ever experience in this world, but I don’t think that’s a coincidence at all. My mind is beginning to race again. All the people I initially met. Everyone I’ve spoken to, and everyone that I’ve seen. I am dead to all of them, and in a way, they are dead to me. How can I wrap my head around all of this? It’s just my luck to have survived through situations where I should have died, right? I should have been a cold corpse six feet under by now, and yet here I am. The most blessed man on earth, huh? My body aches, as does my heart. I hold my withered hand up to my hand and rest my elbow on the flat surface that I sit before. The lights have faded, and all that illuminates me now is the computer screen. What’s the point of living anymore? Am I here to rot, and forever be haunted by my past? There’s no rhyme or reason at all. No purpose for all these happenings. It’s as if the world is doing what it can to keep me alive.
That’s how long it has been since I was supposed to die. I’ve been told it can happen any day now, yet somehow, I doubt that. Such a thing would be a miracle at this point. I can see my gun reflected on my computer screen. It’s getting harder to resist thinking about it. Those who read this might feel that these are the final words of someone with more than a few screws loose, but I feel like I have some sort of obligation to warn you that I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. There’s nothing extraordinary about me. Perhaps this is something that everyone will experience. The ability to survive against impossible odds. No human could go through the things I’ve been through and live to tell about it. I don’t think our minds can comprehend everything that we experience. Think about how many times you’ve had a near-death experience. Is it reasonable to presume that we’ve all just been so fortunate as to endure beyond what anyone could, or is there something more? As I’ve discovered, some refer to these phenomena as the quantum immortality thought experiment. The notion that since our brain cannot comprehend what comes after death, our mind is instead transferred into another universe where our deaths simply never occurred. I know it’s only a thought experiment, but… could this be what is happening with me? Everything that has happened can’t just be luck, can it? Is the universe keeping me alive and hiding the truth from me? Is it doing the same for all of us?
I clench the weapon within my hand once more. My finger is lightly placed on the trigger, and I think I’m almost ready now. For all my speculation as to how and why, in truth, I don’t know that my suspicions are correct. I need to test this theory to reveal what is truly going on. This is perhaps the end of the line for us, dear reader. For me, it may not be. If I am to be correct, then the same can be said for you. God, how I wish I could dispel my fortune. What is there to live for except the melancholic prospect of suffering in one’s pity and pain when there are no consequences for one’s actions? No ultimate ending, no finale to the story of our lives. It is now time for me to part with you. Remember the different perspectives we shall have regarding this documentation. I truly don’t know if I’m right about this. Maybe I’m completely wrong, and this is the end for me. Maybe I really was just the most fortunate man in the world. Whatever the case, this is something I need to do, if for no other purpose than to discover the truth about my life and our reality.
Well then, let’s test my luck one last time.