MY body fell off!
The first time it happened, I was in third grade. I had been recuperating in the hospital after having my appendix removed. They had me all drugged up on painkillers, and I was feeling really goofy, so I just passed it off as a weird dream. I thought about the “dream” on and off for several weeks after that, but eventually it slipped into oblivion and was pretty much forgotten.
* * *
The second time it happened was two years later. Our school class was on an overnight camping trip for fifth graders. We were hiking in the dark, around midnight—no flashlights allowed and no talking. Our leaders thought it would give us a better appreciation for nature or something—I’m not sure. Anyway, I lost my footing climbing down a little hill and slipped several feet into a steep ravine. I landed headfirst against a big rock and was knocked cold for a couple of minutes. My friends told me that when I finally got up, I babbled and carried on, saying all kinds of stupid things. I don’t remember any of that.
The weirdness happened later, while I was lying in the back of the ambulance. It was like . . . floating and drifting and moving up and down. And I distinctly remember seeing myself strapped to the stretcher, with paramedics leaning over and doing things. It was like I was watching the whole event through a ceiling-mounted camera.
As it turned out, I had fractured my skull right above the left temple. After a weeklong stay in the hospital, I was sent home. By then I was sure I had suffered permanent brain damage and would be retarded for the rest of my life.
But eventually the headaches went away, and I came to realize that I was still the same old me.
Again, the whole incident passed from my mind and was pretty much forgotten.
* * *
The third time it happened, I still didn’t recognize the remarkable gift for what it really was.
I had just started my sophomore year in high school . . . and I thought for sure I was dead . . .