Wednesday, 22 October 2014 05:59

The Time I Died

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The Time I Died D.A. Plumlee

This has been the hardest story to finish. I have put if off endlessly finding something less troublesome to do—like filing my nails or playing solitaire. It is highly subjective and probably holds nothing for anyone’s interest, but my own. Nevertheless, I am somehow driven to relate it for whatever tiny bit of interest it might offer to others—especially anyone growing up in New Mexico. I am glad to be here, I never wanted to leave in the first place, but I am now often troubled that I am not doing enough in this lifetime.

A few years ago, I was amazingly rescued by people who hardly knew me. The experience made me fall a little bit in love with the doctor who saved me—but then, who wouldn’t? I am still rendered speechless at what the medical community accomplished. I can only stand on the sidelines and watch with awe at how compassionate people can be. I have never had the talent, people skills, or bravery to cope with emergencies. I can only watch in amazement and forever owe a debt to all those many kind souls who saved me, including my neighbor who broke into my house to find me (bless her and her courage).

Death Dream:

The scene seems to be set in old New Mexico (or maybe Mexico), near an old church. There is a wooden wagon called a “death cart” (Carreta de la Muerte) being slowly pulled by some horses toward this church. A coffin lies in the open carriage behind the two horsemen driving the cart. These men are dressed in black and quietly sit on the buckboard seat. One is holding the reins. The atmosphere is clean and fragrant, as if rain had just fallen yet nothing appears wet. I am in a small and crudely crafted coffin that is painted a white so bright that it is almost blue. There is an oddly shaped glass window around my face. A gruesome way for loved ones to grieve over me. I will soon be eternally beneath the ground. The many small ruts in the road and the motion of the wagon gently rock me. It is early afternoon in October and the sky is that special sort of cobalt-blue color that almost brings a tear to the eye—because it is so out-of-this-world gorgeous.

Although I don’t believe I have ever experienced an out-of-body sensation during my life, it seemed I was now looking at myself from above and at different angles as well as being inside the coffin. I was seeing from so many different angles, all at the same time. Although it was an odd experience, it also felt natural. I could see the drivers from the front of the buckboard and from the back of the wagon—at the same time. I assumed that all I had to do now was be quiet and pass through into the next world. I knew I was dead and I waited, hoping that I had lived my life well enough to earn a reward in heaven.

My coffin bumped gently against the grayness that seemed to be behind my head but the afterworld wouldn’t open to me. The vibrating rhythm of the ruts in the road lulled me into further peacefulness. I could almost feel my mother and sister waiting for me to cross over. I couldn’t see them but I was certain they were very close. Strangely, I felt I had already been on the other side, spent time with them, and now they were saying good-bye to me.

I knew my mom was smiling—I couldn’t see her, but I knew somehow that she was close by, and smiling.

I found myself suspended in the air looking through the glass into my coffin and I noticed that I looked different. I had dark curly brown hair and seemed to be a young girl about twelve and of Hispanic or Mexican heritage. The girl’s skin had a darker tint that had been gently kissed by the sun. Her hair was black and thick with long swooping curls.

I am, in reality, 61 and mostly Swedish and French, and a mix of other ancestors but I had been born in New Mexico and lived here most of my life. I didn’t look like her.

I noticed there were no mourners who walked along the death cart and I and wondered why. I wasn’t sad—just curious.

There was no pain, or suffering, or hurt—just a sort of numb anticipation, accompanied by an odd feeling of peace and contentment. I felt as if I had been with old friends and we had spent days together—having fun. I almost expected my jaw to hurt—like it did when I was younger and spent an evening out—laughing with friends.

My concern grew about the not being able to pass through—I had a strange knowledge that I was simply supposed to slide through the grayness. It didn’t matter if it was a solid wall or not—the wall was supposed to just let me float through. My coffin and I were supposed to be like a subatomic neutrino particle passing effortlessly through dense matter. But the grayness was solid and my coffin continued to gently bounce back each time I tried to go through the barrier of gray. I remember seeing a large constructed wall that was ancient Roman in design with sheer curtains in front of it, dipping slightly into the water. At the bottom of the wall was a bank with muddy river rocks in the water near the edge of the bank. Later, I would think that perhaps this was the legendary River Styx. My coffin seemed to float on the water, but I decided that I shouldn’t attempt to climb over the muddy rocks and scale the wall. The breath still came from me and I wondered what I had done wrong? Why won’t the afterlife open to me?

Nothing was happening and I began to find my time in the hand-made casket more and more unbearable.

The two men driving the death cart begin to talk. I seemed to be hovering in the air, right in front of them, as they spoke to each other.

Both of them were dressed in stunning black velvet. Not a speck of dust or lint was on their clothing despite the fact that they were driving horses and a death cart on a very dusty road. They were dressed totally in black from their suede sombrero hats down to their leather boots. The rest of their clothing was of the finest material. Although they were respectful and solemn doing this sad task, it looked like their faces could readily crack into handsome smiles. Both had curly brownish-black hair and it had been elegantly styled. They looked strangely like Mariachi musicians but I saw no instruments and I heard no music. I noticed the black ruffled ties around their necks. The material was like black chiffon, but it had the brightest (and the most beautiful) neon red trim on the ends of the ruffles. There was a slight fragrance that lingered on both of them. It was a rich aroma of everything that is good and fine in the world. Yet, as handsome and wonderful as they seemed—I was terrified of the both of them because they were so beautiful and magnificent.

One of them spoke, “I will put a small Spanish Bible with her before we put her in the ground. It seems to make these young ones rest easier.”

I suddenly realized that I was not dead and needed to tell the drivers before they buried me alive. Thinking of my mother who came from a long (and royal) lineage from southern France and parts of Europe. I needed to quickly tell them what to do!

It was somehow important for these people to understand that I was French, not Spanish. I needed to let someone know I was still alive. This seemed ridiculous since both languages represent the same thing in the Catholic Bible, but nevertheless it seemed to be of paramount importance to make them aware of this difference in Latin heritage.

I didn’t want to be buried alive!

With urgency—I cried out, “No! I need a French Catholic Bible!”

Both men on the buckboard turned their heads and looked each other in the face. Then they continued to turn their heads farther until they were both looking down on me in the coffin. Both of them looked very surprised and a little bit shocked.

Suddenly, I heard one of them ask me, “Do you know where you are?”



“Do you know where you are?” Asked one of the two men in the water.

I looked around at the strange shape of the extended hyperbaric chamber.

“A box,” I said.

Two men were floating in the water across from me. Almost everything in the dream had disappeared. I was now in something completely different than a casket. The gray fabric from the chamber ballooned outward and boxy-looking seams were sewn into the fabric. I had almost said an airplane instead of a box, because of the air pressure effect on my hearing, but I was also in water. Water?

I saw the outlines of their heads darkly silhouetted against a small window. That window was strangely shaped—exactly like the coffin window I thought I had been looking through. The October sunlight shone through the window behind each of them. It seemed as if I was looking in on myself from different vantage points.

Suddenly, when the words, “A box” came out of my mouth, the two men started for me and I blacked out again.

Subsequently, I decided that it was the water that had been gently rocking me—not the ruts in the dirt road. The grayness that wouldn’t let me into the afterlife may have been the gray fabric-like walls of the chamber. It was like being on the inside of a large balloon with the walls blowing outward. Of course, the two Mariachi drivers of the death cart were actually a doctor and a male nurse. I also believe the reason there were no mourners along the death cart is because I wasn’t dead yet—or I was coming back to life. The two Mariachi men may have even been angels.

The next thing I remembered was coming out of the chamber on a board or stretcher. I continued to think it was all a death process at first, going through portals to the next world—like going through a tunnel. Of course it wasn’t a tunnel like other near-death experiencer’s describe. No, I didn’t experience the tunnel, the beautiful light, or the colorful gardens—but I know I encountered something wonderful because I came back feeling very happy and contented. I think I am just not allowed to remember my time on the other side.

As I was being passed through openings of medical machines, the doctor said, “Watch your elbows, this is going to hurt a little.” Then he said, “Again, watch your knees, this might hurt a little too.” I felt nothing, but I began to understand I wasn’t going to die or be buried alive. I realized that something in my life must have been left undone or I hadn’t finished yet. There was still something more to do, somehow. The door to the next level was obviously closed to me for now.

Ahh . . . I dare to live,” I thought.

I had always been told I was too competitive. But if I had been brought back for a reason, I would accept the challenge to continue my life. What other choice did I really have?

I hadn’t meant to leave in the first place.


I was positive I had died. Even though I had been told I was rescued and airlifted to the hospital, I still had doubts that this had really happened. I was certain that I had died and awoken on an embalmer’s cold slab. It wasn’t until later that I believed differently.

Eventually, I was told that my brave neighbor had broken into my house and rescued me. I had stupidly taken one more pain pill than I should have and I had apparently put myself into a coma or deep sleep that lasted for at least four days. Luckily my neighbor noticed that my mailbox was overflowing and I had not brought my empty garbage can in for several days (unlike my usual routine). The last thing I remembered was getting ready to sit down in my living room and work on a jigsaw puzzle.

Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.  

Sometimes I wonder if death might be a parallel time string. When we jump back into the world of the living, things have changed—but only slightly. I once had an agnostic friend who believed that dying was simply stopping. All of us on planet Earth are hurtling through space and the universe at high rates of speed. He thought that when we die (stop) our mind/soul/consciousness is simply left behind in the flotsam/ jetsam path of our planet. Of course I had to disagree with him, but I have since wondered if there were some small bit of validity to his theory. Perhaps we can also pick up new souls as we pass through the paths that other heavenly bodies have left behind?

I know I will die again someday and I’m sure it will be in New Mexico, but I only hope it will not be anytime soon and that I have plenty of good qualitytime until then. I’ve noticed that I seem driven to create a lot more than ever before. Perhaps I am on some sort of inner time clock and I am really pushing myself to get things done by a certain time. But, I guess everyone probably feels that way—to some extent.

How little we all know, exactly what it is that is most important for each of us to accomplish. During this time that I was not quite in the world of the living, I experienced several out of body sequences, often seeing myself from above. These events seemed so natural as to be unquestioned. Although death is a pretty heavy thing to happen to anyone, I suppose it should be a cautionary tale to everyone about being careful with personal medication.

Unbelievably, the following month’s experiences after my death incident would blow everyone’s mind.

But that is a very different—and a very long story—for another time . . . maybe.

I am happy that I am now back and using my time more productively to write and create. Although I am tied to a strict and tight budget, I find that I am seriously undertaking creative projects that I never before attempted. Although I am retired (too early) and no longer work, I find that I am exploring ideas and projects with a different mindset and expectation in order to produce interesting items of interest. At least I hope I am.

You just never know when you might be called back . . .


—Raven DeVille

Read 1844 times Last modified on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:46
Raven Q. DeVille

Raven was born in the extreme SE corner of New Mexico, lived in the 4-corners region for 11 years, and has spent the last 50 years in Española, Santa Fe, and especially in the city of Los Alamos. She writes of her own various first-hand experiences, second-hand tales of friends, and various theories regarding ghost stories, legends and general oddness of Enchanted New Mexico.

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