Lived Through This

There’s Really No Easy Way to Say ‘I Was Stabbed’

Notes on near-death

Emma Berquist
Human Parts
Published in
12 min readFeb 13, 2020
I lived, bitch.

TThe first thing people usually want to know is what getting stabbed feels like. The answer is that it feels like getting punched really hard. Or at least, I assume it’s what getting hit feels like. I’ve never been punched. I have been stabbed six times.

I’ll back up. And I’ll try not to make this too writerly, but I’m fighting my instincts. I wanted to add a quote from an Auden poem about suffering, but I desisted. Please admire my restraint.

You have to understand, this kind of thing doesn’t happen in Wellington. It doesn’t happen in most places, but it especially doesn’t happen in a small city in New Zealand, in a park, at 11:30 a.m.

I was just trying to take my dog for a walk. On windy days, we like to go to the park that’s below street level, sheltered by trees. We were maybe 10 minutes into the walk, and I was checking my phone to see if anyone had liked something dumb I tweeted. I didn’t hear the man run up to me; I just suddenly felt someone grab me from behind.

My first irrational thought was that it was a friend trying to surprise me with a bear hug. Which doesn’t make any sense; all my friends have real jobs, and no one knew where I was. And then I felt the hit to my back, right between my shoulder blades. Like a punch. And then another, next to the first, and then I was turning. My dog was barking; for a 20-pound creature, her bark is shockingly loud. He got my right shoulder twice, then I was facing him, and he stabbed me in the chest. I fell back, and he kept coming.

My life didn’t flash before my eyes. I didn’t think about my life; I thought about dying.

I was yelling; not screaming, but yelling words. I just kept saying, “Stop it, stop it.” And my dog kept barking.

My life didn’t flash before my eyes. I didn’t think about my life; I thought about dying. I thought that this could be it, that this could be how I die. And it didn’t make me sad or regretful. It made me fucking angry. I didn’t want to die in the dirt like this; I didn’t want people to find my body in my torn-up sneakers and a sweatshirt from…