This I Believe

Andy - Lincoln, Nebraska
Entered on March 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

On February 12th 2000 I found myself in a situation both unforeseen and entirely unbelievable; I was on my death bed .

I was 21 years old, moving from place to place, entering college and promptly dropping out, chasing whims across the country, rarely having more than a few hundred dollars to my name. It was a daily impromptu loose waywardness of people and place, of an almost comical ability to survive.

Then everything changed.

I had no reason to be where I was, in a college dormitory under construction, only a skeleton of a building really. I never saw the hole in the floor and I stepped right in it. I fell through an elevator shaft five stories onto fresh, hard concrete. A friend found me reluctantly and just barely inhabiting my body, he was put in an awkward situation; laying motionless there I begged him to kill me.

Long days passed for my family and friends. Laying there in a coma, I was put through a grueling set of invasive surgeries that left my life hanging amongst a fog of uncertainties. The doctors were unable to assure my family that even if I made it whether I would be able to walk, talk or lead anything of a normal life.

I spent five days in a coma, then on February 17th 2000, I woke up. It was my 22nd Birthday

Nowadays I celebrate two birthdays. One for the day I was born, one for the day I was ’reborn’. Coming out of a coma I had, what I can only describe as an out of body experience. I watched myself, suspended in white light, walk towards myself. I don’t bother with supernatural interpretation, I just believe that this was my moment, the moment where I emerged into a frightening world of uncertainty and chaos, in a hospital bathed in bright lights, beeping noises and procedure, again.

Every year I call my parents on the 12th of February and wish them a happy ’death day’. It seems a little morbid but it is, in its spirit joyful. Joyful because I am here, walking, talking, and if not necessarily leading a normal life, it is a good life. I work on a farm demanding hard physical labor and in turn its’ rewards are profound and genuine.

I believe that life and death are two sides of the very same coin, and that life is a coin toss, a gamble and a risk. We summersault through our days enjoying the momentum, and when that coin lands, when if falls to the ground, we hope to recognize our surroundings. I believe that life and death are similar as are beginnings and endings. I often fail to orientate myself properly in the dizzying arc of my life. But each turn offers a perspective new and bold and a chance to start anew. In the long road from wheel chair to farm hand I learned to believe in the ability of all life to endure.