By Tim Mount, CN, CCMH
On a warm summer night in 1999, at the age of 20, I pulled into a diner in Whately, Massachusetts to get a bite to eat with a friend. What happened next changed my life more than I could have imagined.
As I circled the large, truck stop parking lot in search of a space I happened upon a crime. The passenger door of a large Ford F-350 was ajar and slender, violently kicking legs were hanging out the side. I stopped abruptly behind the truck. The scene took a moment to become clear, but when I realized a woman was being attacked I leaped into action without thinking.
Springing out of my car, I yelled at the unknown assailant, “Hey, get your f*&#^%$ hands off her!”
He complied, and she ran screaming towards me.
Her voice crackled with fear. “He’s trying to kidnap and rape me!”
I instantly recognized the girl. She was an acquaintance who I went to high school with. I’d never spoken more than a few words of greeting to her as we passed in the hallway, but nevertheless, her familiarity heightened my protective instincts.
She cowered behind me as the man in his mid-40s stepped out of the truck, facing off with me only a few feet away. I instantly could tell he was drunk – smashed even – by the way he stumbled off the stepside of his raised monster truck.
Seeing the rage in my eyes he had a moment of clarity. Without a word he turned in his plaid, buttoned up shirt and Wrangler jeans, and took off.
“Thank you, thank you Tim. He’s been following me all night! He tried to run me off the road on the way here. What a psycho!”
The inebriated plumber was a regular at the nightclub where she worked and decided tonight was the night that he got what he wanted.
I walked her to the diner and stayed with her as she picked up her takeout order.
“Let me check the parking lot for that guy. I don’t trust him,” I said as we approached her rusty Toyota Corolla.
“Thanks, but he’s gone,” she said with a dismissive tone. “I’m exhausted. Thank you again.” And that was the last time I saw her. Rumor had it that she moved to Oregon and lived happily ever after.
My immediate future was not as pleasant. As she reversed out of the parking spot I caught a glimpse of a rear truck tire hiding behind an adjacent gas station a hundred yards away. The driver’s side windshield was barely visible beyond the brick wall, but had a perfect line of sight to our position.
I walked quickly towards the truck and we locked eyes. “Don’t you do it!” I thought to myself. “Don’t you follow her.”
I could see the decision processing in his cloudy mind. Do I go after her? Yes, but first I need to do something about this guy. He’s standing between us…
The V-8 engine roared as he stomped on the accelerator and took dead aim. I turned and sprinted as if the Grim Reaper himself were chasing me. I cut left and could hear his tires screech as he adjusted his trajectory. There was too much open space, my efforts were futile. At the last second before impact I turned and jumped, which was a better alternative than going under the tires.
He slammed into me between 40-45mph, according to official police records from the 15 witnesses who gave statements at the restaurant. Fortunately, he was still turning slightly and I wasn’t hit straight on. The left headlight impacted my ribcage and right hip, forever displacing it 18mm lower than my left (which I’m told is twice as much as my chiropractor has ever seen). I bounced off diagonally and as the truck caught back up to my rolling, lifeless body, the front left tire ran over my left ankle, separating it from my leg by tearing every ligament and tendon.
Although my body was only in mid-air between the hood of the truck and blacktop for a second, that brief moment in my life had the single biggest impact on me than any other moment I’ve experienced. That moment of, I guess you would medically describe it as “unconsciousness”, was the moment I met…hmm, I don’t want to say God in the white beard and flowing robe sort of way. I’ll describe it as accurately as possible, but keep in mind that relating a feeling with words is as futile as describing sight to a blind person. The subjective experience of the feeling will inevitably be missing.
There was no pain, or memory of the incident that brought me to that place. Time didn’t exist, but existence pervaded. I was alive, more alive than I had ever been in my day-to-day Earthly activities. It was black, void of any stimulus that could be felt by my normal 5 senses, but I wasn’t in a coma of self-contained consciousness. I knew I was not alone. An overwhelming feeling of energetic love surrounded me in a warm bath. It was a bliss exponentially more intense than the most passionate mind-body love I’ve ever felt, including the bursting flutter in my heart when holding my child. There was no fear – only unparalleled contentment, the kind a newborn must feel when being cuddled by its mother after birth.
Although I was out of my physical body a communication came through telepathically.
“Stay here with me or return, but you must make your life count by helping others.”
As if snuggled in a soft, warm bed on a cold rainy morning, I yearned to stay there. But then I thought of my mother, who was battling cancer, and close friends that I loved dearly. I knew I’d be back in that place eventually.
“I want to go back,” I replied and instantly snapped back to life.
The juxtaposition of the pain I felt from my foot being smashed into the ground by a 4 ton truck was a rude awakening. Imagine Mark McGuire (a baseball slugger at the time this happened) taking a hundred bats and swinging them at your torso. It was sorta like that, only worse.
With the help of adrenaline I stood, somehow, doubled over on one foot. The agonizing 20 foot trek to the safety of the diner steps seemed to last forever. A crowd surrounded me as I lay on the pavement, gasping for breath and spitting out blood. Women were crying hysterically, and my friends spoke as if it were the last words I’d ever hear from them. Through it all – the ambulance ride when they cut off my clothes, the grim diagnosis, and the critical care unit I was placed in at the hospital for several days – I knew I’d survive. Underneath all the pain remained a dampened memory of the blissful feeling from my brush with death, and it has never left me to this day.
The man escaped down the highway (after smashing into a parked 18 wheeler and a guardrail), but was caught refueling two exits south. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder, DUI, and a laundry list of other charges, and received a 2.5 year sentence (of which I believe he only served 9 month).
Many times I’ve been asked if I am angry at what happened. To which I reply:
“That man gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever received.”
Not everyone can catch a glimpse of death. I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to live my life without fear. I get to live my life with purpose, knowing that I made the decision to come back and help people. I now look forward to death, although I’m in no rush to get there.
Doctors may suggest that I hallucinated the whole thing in some sort of trauma-induced neurological storm. Dreams in REM sleep seem real when they occur. Maybe that experience was similar? Sure, that’s a possibility, but I don’t care what skepticisms others may have, it was real to me. The indescribable feeling of the encounter cannot be explained away by logic.
I tell this story in hopes that anyone facing death can know that it isn’t over until it’s over. I should have been dead, but I was given a choice and I woke up. But of course, when the time comes – and it will for each and every one of us – I hope that someone, somewhere will have their fear comforted knowing that what awaits them is a wonderful gift. For the brave, exhausted friends and family members supporting a loved one in their last moments of life, you can know that they are truly going to a better place.
I continue on my journey to help anyone that I can. That help includes NeoCell collagen, a product I wholeheartedly believe improves people’s live and is a piece of the commitment I made during that fateful decision.