Lucky Jim

The most amazing thing happened to Jim MacLaren one day while running an Ironman race. He lost his body.
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  1. Jim MacLaren doesn't have any memory of the first accident. He can’t tell you what it feels like to be hit by a New York City bus and thrown eighty-nine feet in the air, to have your bones shattered and your legs crushed, to have your organs pulverized and to be pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, because he can’t recall any part of it.

    The last thing he remembers about that accident is happily cruising down Fifth Avenue on his motorcycle, on “one of those balmy October nights when anything seems possible.” As well it should have. Jim MacLaren was, as of that moment, a handsome, intelligent, ambitious and well-liked 22-year- old who had the world on a string. He’d recently graduated from Yale, where he’d excelled as a scholar, a football player and a theater star—not a bad trifecta for a fatherless kid from a moneyless family. He’d spent the previous evening dancing with debutantes at a society party and was returning home from a job interview that had gone extremely well. He was wearing a crisp white oxford shirt, his favorite jeans and a brand-new pair of Italian shoes. He looked wonderful, and he felt wonderful.

    He never saw the 40,000-pound bus that ran the red light on 34th Street and demolished him. Nor does he have any mem- ory of the paramedics who scraped him off the sidewalk (cer- tain he was already a corpse) and delivered him to Bellevue Hospital. The next thing Jim remembers—after disappearing into a coma for eight days—is waking up in intensive care an...

Originally published in GQ, May 2002