THE THIRD TIME I DIED

I generally avoid talking about this. Dying, that is. I’ve coped with its aftermath, living on borrowed time for more than forty years now. But of the actual deathblow, followed by the leaving here and being elsewhere? No.

True, I wrote it down soon after, copious information, complete with diagrams and a glossary of terms totally foreign to me. And, yes, I told someone. Naturally, it was met with skepticism, having occurred two decades before disclosures of near-death experiences became common.

The thing is, my death-death doesn’t exactly duplicate what others have echoed to the awe and applause of audiences.

So, let me go back far enough for long enough to tell you just enough and nothing more.

The first time I died was several days after I was born with pneumonia in 1946, when the incidence of it was still the leading cause of infant mortality in America. According to my grandmother, I was discharged from the hospital to die “again” at home after doctors declared, “There’s nothing more we can do for her.”

Some would contend it was my grandmother’s and my mom’s hourly rotating attention that saved me. But grandma insisted otherwise.

“It was an onion,” she assured with a Swedish intonation, her hair braided and pinned to her head like a peasants crown from the old country she refused to speak of and claimed not to know. “On your chest.”

I never really understood the significance of that pungent bulb’s role until recently when I read that an onion begins to absorb the viruses and bacteria in a room the moment it’s cut. I’m now convinced that if I place a raw onion on the nightstand next to my bed at the first inkling of a cold I’ll sleep more soundly and awaken well, or (at very least) breathing better. Regardless, I’ve ceased saving the remains of sliced onions for future use.

The second time I died I was six weeks shy of my fifth birthday. While playing with my dog (an Irish Setter named Clancy) in the front yard of our home, I chased a ball out into the street where I was struck by an oncoming car. (A taxicab, to be exact.)

I vividly recall running, the dog, the ball, the sandstone ledge I scooted off, the cement sidewalk with it’s chalk drawn hopscotch squares, the sunbeams filtering through the still leaves of oak and chestnut trees, my innocence on that August afternoon, the dense, prismatic glass of headlights, a shiny chrome grill, and feeling mystified just before being hit.

I do not recall my death, or anything happening directly afterward.

But I can still see – just as clear can be – me standing near the porcelain countered sink in our century old kitchen, becoming oddly aware of myself with my mom behind me, gently running a wide-tooth comb through my hair and tying it with ribbons. My hair was long. The comb was pink. The ribbons were yellow.

“May I have a class of water?” I muttered.

“Did you say something, Dolly?” she answered, as if in disbelief.

“Water.”

I’d not been taken to a hospital. I’d simply been snatched up from where I landed (fifteen feet further down the street), carried into the house, and laid out.

I don’t know how long I remained, motionless, with Clancy standing guard. I don’t who came, or went, or if anyone did. I don’t know when I regained the perception of consciousness. All I was told is that phone calls were made, blame was assigned and reassigned, and those who were present writhed and waited until I eventually arose and walked to the kitchen, deaf, dumb and blind to it all. It might have taken minutes, or hours, or days – who knows? Because once the ordeal ended the incidence was closed for discussion, except as a matter-of-fact briefing whenever a neighbor inquired as to my well-being.

It wasn’t until twenty-one years later and the third time I died that I knew I hadn’t truly died the first two times at all. Yes, I’d been clinically dead by medical standards. But what doctors didn’t know then and don’t know still is – it was only upon dying the ‘third’ time that I actually departed. The third time I died changed my life forevermore. When I reappeared after the third time dead, I knew where I’d been, and instantly understood the burden the blessing of immortal insight bestows.

Seven Post-its:

(1) Immortal insight is not something you reveal to anyone unless you’re in the presence of a person, or animal near death that expresses fear by words, gestures, or conduct. (2) Details pertaining to the experience are not something you write a book about, or (3) go on talk shows staking claim to, or (4) appear in houses of worship professing. (5) It is not to be exchanged for financial gain, or (6) to obtain any degree of power, or (7) to use as a means to ennoble yourself.

This I can say as being so without reservation: You were given the gift of life and the unbounded ability to do your best. Embrace and appreciate it. Now.

Okay, that’s all. I’m done, finished and through.

Except…

The third time I died I got slammed in the head by two and a half tons of speeding steel. (A taxicab, to be exact.)

It could account for something.

Or, not.

# # #

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40 thoughts on “THE THIRD TIME I DIED

  1. Seuss

    Wow!! I liked it. I remember when you were hit by the car but I recall very little about the details. I saw a lot of people standing out along the street and ran up to ask what was going on and someone said “Your sister was hit by a car!” That is all I remember. Your thoughts about death are thought provoking. No one will ever get out of this world alive.

    Reply
  2. Sheri Campbell

    I know this to be true from my nursing experience of 31 years. Your blog was so interesting I did not want it to end. I remember say Noooooo out loud.
    Happy you are still with us dear one.

    Reply
  3. Deb Martin-Webster

    I have to tell you the onion remedy works! My mother used it on us and I used it on my daughter and granddaughter when they had high fevers. She would put half an onion in our socks before we went to bed. Odd perhaps, but by morning it brought the fever down. LOVE your stories and blog!!

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Thanks Deb. Glad to see you here – and it must work, yes? I’m still here, too, and grandmas don’t lie. Isn’t it wonderful what we all learn from each other in this age of communications? Lucky me to have all of you.

      Reply
  4. Donna Wells

    Thank you. Interesting, Most only die once. Your life experience of doing it three times is amasing. Your blog was very comforting for me. I’ve only come close once . For now close is close enough for me. Loving your blogs!

    Reply
  5. Barbara Dickson Oatley

    I have over 50 years of nursing behind me and still work in long term care where death is almost a daily happening. I have seen patients die easily and at peace and others fighting it all the way. My own contribution has been to enable the families to talk and cry if they need to.
    Have also heard many near death experiences. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      My aunt was the head nurse on a cancer ward for 40 years. My mom worked the death watch shift in a hospice house for 20. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and women like you who devote their lives to the care of others.

      Reply
  6. Paul Cogan

    O.K. One writer to another this is what I thought of this piece. First the basic stuff: (1.) Organization/Structure – well organized and thought out with good structure that flows well, with easy readability, however missing words tended to make the ready choppy in a couple of places. (2.) Content/Interest – Unique approach to what could be a morbid topic, with nice use of humor to keep the piece light, but with the piece bordering on being just another piece of eye candy if it were not for the use of the folk lore tidbits. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a piece of crap, 10 being an interesting/useful piece of writing, I would probably rate the piece around 7 to 7 1/2 because it was fun to read, and there appears to be some real writing talent here that could be applied to some real serious interesting pieces of work. Would I have read this piece based upon the draw of the title and/or lead in paragraph – not likely. As a reader I was not drawn to read the piece by the title nor was I hooked to continue to read the piece once I had finished the lead in paragraph.

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      1. Thanks Paul. I did struggle with the title. 2. I hope it was clear that this is an essay, not a work of fiction. 3. I’m confused about the words you think are missing since I write with my ears as much as my eyes and can’t hear where you felt it was choppy. 4. I appreciate your honesty and that you took time to read this piece. Truly. Please don’t give up on me and, again, thanks.

      P.S. In our exchange of FB messages after this you suggested three titles you thought would be better. They were: (1)Three times sweet! (2) Three strikes and you are living baby! (3) Cheating three times makes you a winner!

      Anyone else care to weigh in on this?

      I’m listening.

      Reply
      1. Kate Genet

        I actually prefer your own title. It’s intriguing, echoes the tone of the piece and doesn’t come across as cheesy and sensationalist as I think the suggested ones do. Think I’ll have to keep visiting.

      2. margueritequantaine Post author

        I must admit, my audience has always been primarily female and I’ve often wondered how men react to my writing. Maybe it’s a gender thing, right down to the title. Thanks for that, Kate.

      3. Kate Genet

        I have a lot of male readers, though still fewer than my female ones, as would be expected. None of them however, would consider it a good idea to critique a simple blog post. But never mind; keep on doing what you do!

  7. Michelle

    Amazing story Marguerite! Are you writing a memoir? Not many people survive three deaths. So glad you did! Your story is inspiring. Your words are captivating. Cheers!

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      No, but I’ve written a novel based on a “true enough” story that contains way too much, so the fix is in. It’s the publisher I’m shopping. Thanks for your encouraging words, always.

      Reply
  8. joskehan

    It’s strange, but I died 3 times too, but all in the one night for the same reason…loss of blood. It was during the time I was fighting off cancer and had had major surgery almost 2months previously, but my internal area was not healing at all, and suddenly like a flooded river pushing against the banks, it overflowed and refused to stop for a long time….I can remember very clearly what happened to me, and I confirmed a lot of it with the theatre sister who was there during the emergency surgery – to this day I feel no fear of dying.
    I enjoyed this blog immensely and look forward to reading many more from you Marguerite. xxx

    Reply

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