No doctor, detective or hospital chaplain is going to impart Merriam-Webster vetted terminology on you at a time like that. People in those lines of business–let alone those who have experienced such things directly–know that those events don’t knock, but suck the living breath out of you. The cold, immediate, sterile environment presses right into each of your bronchial tubes like steel rods. Breathlessness never felt so much like hope until you’ve experienced that.

It was October of 2006 and it was drizzling, chilly and raw, and as I was there slack-jawed and rubber-legged, suspended mid-terror, I finally had the pleasure of knowing what it was like to simultaneously want to escape from and burrow myself into my own bodily vessel. Existence never felt so optional. Weightlessness and granite-grade paralysis sat side-by-side and I chose weightlessness. Hence, my father escorted me on lifeless, hollow legs as we glided down the hall. My momentarily soulless body was treading down the hall on rolling ankles. My feet couldn’t hit flat on the ground.

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