February 18, 1972, the day I died

This is the anniversary of the day that I died.

The date was February 18, the year was 1972.

There were 5 of us in the old crewcab truck. My foster brother Rodney was driving, my sister Judi was sitting in the middle of the front seat, my sister Kitti and her boy friend Steve were in the back seat and I was riding shotgun. The truck was a Forrest service surplus. Seating for 6 and under the hood each passenger was represented by one cylinder, the long way to say it had a small 6 cylinder engine. It was not fast.

The night was foggy and cold. It was February fog, thick and sticky. We were driving from Milton-Freewater to Pendleton. The Loeffelbein’s had started a great adventure in leasing Curl’s Drive in in Milton-Freewater but were having trouble selling the house in Pendleton. The trip was supposed to be a chance for us kids to see our friends and help pack up the house. We didn’t make it very far.

Just outside of town there is a long steep grade that at that time had only two lanes. (I believe it’s 3 lanes now). I don’t know the ladies name in the slow car that was in front of us, I think she was driving a Rambler. Rodney thought it would be safe to pass. We were slightly ahead of her car when we saw the lights of the on coming car, they weren’t headlights, just park lights but it was a car in the lane in front of us. Rodney tried swerve back into our lane, there just wasn’t enough time.

I’m not sure which car hit us first but both cars did. I’ve heard that by the time it was all over there were 17 cars involved. The impact tore the cab we were in free of the truck frame.

When my dad who was at work in Pendleton heard about the accident from the state patrol all he knew was that his kids were in an accident and that there had been a fatality.

When he and my brother arrived on the scene our crewcab was in pieces strewn around the hi-way. The cab was upside down just off the road.

I don’t know the sequence of events except from my experience so that’s what I’ll tell you. When I woke up I was laying on the ceiling of our truck. People were all around, there were flashlights and people were asking me questions. I tried to talk but the lower half of my face felt like jello. I would find out later that my jaw was broken in 5 places. Somehow all 5 of us stayed in the cab. None of us were using seat belts (seat belts?).

Rodney had been pushing so hard on the brake that his foot had gone through the floor. His femur was shattered. Judi broke her wrist. Kitti broke her ankle. Steve was the worst of us. He had a skull fracture. At that point we were busted up but alive. The driver of the oncoming car had died on impact. My condolences to his family.

Somehow they got me out of the truck and into an ambulance. As I lay there on the gurney I started to panic but I heard a voice in my head that said “Jesus will take care of you”. I relaxed and either passed out or fell asleep or died. I don’t know. I just know that I’ve never known rest like that before or since. It was blissful.

At the hospital things were a little hectic. My gurney was in the hallway and when my mom arrived the doctors in triage were working on me. When My mom arrived she saw the doctors walking away from me she asked if she could talk to me, one doctor answered, “well it doesn’t matter now “. She started gently rubbing my leg and I started to cough. The doctors spun around and started working on me with renewed vigor.

I remember this scene but I remember it from a view above my body. As the gurney was wheeled into a room I remember sort of sqooshing back into myself.

All of this kind of got shoved aside as the crisis of all of us was being taken care of.

My jaw was set with a plate. They were going to wire it shut but my burn scars were too tough to cut through so they went with the plate. At a follow up orthodontic appointment the doctor who had been at the hospital when I arrived told my mom that I was clinically dead when I arrived. She almost fainted. After we got home we talked about all the details. I remembered the weird way that I recalled the event, from above my body.

I’m not sure how to close this. I’ve given the facts but it doesn’t seem complete. Dying and coming back to life. It happened. It changed me I’m sure but since I was so young (11) I don’t know how different things would be without the experience . One thing that happened because I had the plate in my jaw. Mary and I broke up

My senior year. I was trying to get out of town so I signed up to join the air force. I was going to leave early, before graduation. I had scored pretty high on my ASVAB so they were excited to get me. Everything was a go until during the medical questionnaire they asked me if I had any pins or plates. I told them

About my jaw and everything came to a screeching halt. Due to the plate I would not be joining any of our armed services. I stayed in soap lake. I graduated in June of 1979 and eventually (August of 1979) Mary and I went to a movie and before the sun rose the next day, we were not only back together, but engaged. The rest of the story is our marriage and family.

I died, I don’t know how long I was gone. I have no other memories from that experience. I don’t know why it happened. I do know this, God works all thing together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. I do love him and he has brought good to me even though life, at times was very rough.

Author: Peterloeffelbein

I am a man. I am an older man. I am a husband and a dad and a grandpa. I am a disciple of Jesus. Because I am a disciple of Jesus much of what I write is about him, and I usually end what I write with a question, do you the reader know that Jesus loves you? He does. He loves us all but he loves you specifically. He loves me specifically. What will you do with that information today?

6 thoughts on “February 18, 1972, the day I died”

  1. What an awesome story, Peter! You definitely have had an eventful life. I must say I feel privileged to have known you all these years and to have been trusted with the care of your beautiful children at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Pete and all:

    I hurriedly read that ghastly experience when you clinically died and came wondrously back to life in that 17-car pileup in which one person died. And you SHOULD have. You were kept alive (Romans 8.28)for and by a Divine Purpose and I’m so glad you didn’t become a statistic, and that you and Mary did not break up, and, as they say, living happily ever after with your 4 kids and now many grandchildren. As for my own experience which is a little the same, but somewhat different, it is this: When back bruised, broken, and spindled and in bad odor around SL, WA, a gossipy little desert town at best and after I’d punched a cop, gone through the maws of the Law as in Mary Robbins’ song, “I Fought the Law/And the Law Won,” I was back to desperately try to resurrect my humbled and humiliated life back in Kalispell. Luckily, I was a known quality as somewhat half jock, and half intellectual at Flathead High, but, alas, there was NO PLACE for me. It is difficult to “pick up the pieces” when your own “mirror” is shattered. Plus, crucially, having been ragingly psychotic with the etiology of my mother’s bi-polar gene, the Dr. Drury, the psychiatrist, prescribed a shot called Prolixin every couple weeks. It made me drool, couldn’t co-ordinate my arms and legs, walked stiffly, and occasionally stuttered. I hated myself and my Self-Presentation. Then, for some reason, the male RN, Dan Richardson or whatever, gave me a shot which was an overdose. Immediately I fell face down onto the floor, twitching.

    He was mortified, probably as much for his own fate at accidentally putting a “Nut ball” –as my Son, Heath Paul calls me—to death. The people around the very nervous, startled and indeed a little terrified at the Public Health Office called the ambulance, zipping me up in a coma to Kalispell Regional where a lot of aides came round, thinking I was a goner. I pretty much w as, vaguely aware of what was going on around me, but I didn’t have that “blissful aura” you speak of: I was just totally dead and out of it. The coma lasted a full 10 days. They fed me with IV’s, and nurses came in every few hours to see if I would miraculously ‘make it’ and resurrect from the dead. I had absolutely no concept of this Dream World of some archetypal ‘heaven’ either one way or the other, contrary to some books I’ve read about NDE’s which often are facile and imbecilic rendering of what the Real Heaven is like, which often involves repentance and reparations, and is not facile. The Real Heaven is certainly free—but in another way, It costs you everything. I’d read too many books about Christ, His Love, the Trinity, Grace, contrition, and Divine Love to believe blindly that I’d expire and immediately, saint-like, be ushered painlessly into the UP escalator when I viscerally knew damn good and well, I was surely not at that point of my experience to enter so calmly and seamlessly into the Beatific Vision.

    Then, abruptly, after the nurses had been coming into my room, and washing me down with hot washcloths, nonchalantly cleaning up my genitals etc, I suddenly awoke with startle. “What day is this, NURSS?” I said, recognizing her as a member of my Bible Study. Diane, very nurturing and nice, Catholic, about 45. So I found out then that I’d been out for 10 days, thought to never be making it out alive but on a chance, they’d kept IVing me and rinsing the bed pan and so on. I chatted with Niane, then a bunch of very, very happy people came round and were overjoyed, and my folks came up from their house, and a festive celebration was held in my hospital room. I was glad to join the living as you were certainly when you too almost died in that car wreck. From then on, they switched me off the dangerous Prolixin to some yellow pill, maybe Mellaril, and I didn’t’ drool so much, ansurely but slowly, I began to heal with a hard effort and Will on my own part. Although there would be some coming problematic psychiatry, I knew that if I could endure THAT bullshit, I could endure with God’s help, my courage, patience, fortitude, humility, and reciprocating LGod’s Divine Love and expectations of my life, I COULD BEGIN AGAIN—and it came to fruit when I would, high, approach a Candy Striper who came with another woman(obese and brilliant)into the Providence Missoula Hospital, and brought her crocheting wrists together as this cute svelte redhead was peeking secretly up at me as I myself was surreptiously peeking DOWN at her, and taking a gigantic chance I said. “\

    “Go out with me. You’ll find me a kind, brilliant, humble and generous man. You’ll never regret it.” Stammering, this Bonita said she would, and we agreed to meet in front of Providence Hospital the next night after dinner, and the rest, as they say(and you yourself say in your narrative of how you and Mary got together again)”is history.” Well, I just thought you might be interested, and Garth and Mark G are eavesdropping as well. Ah, Life, that Bastard: what a Joy, a Blessing, an Opportunity, an Adventure, a Test, an RSVP from the Almighty to come, “Ya’ll, come and join Us in our Heaven, and free, but your Will is there, and it will in other, more significant and festive ways and manners, “cost you everything.”

    Regards to all, and affection too. Bill Hensleigh

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10



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