Incidences with my state of health this year have moved me to write of the following experience that I had in December 1980. Until now, I have rarely shared this and then only with a few. My latest experience encourages me to write of this now.
I had been very ill for months with great pain and near constant bleeding. Medications were not helping and I eventually had to have surgery to remove the offending organ that was killing me. Before such surgery was even spoken of, I felt a premonition of my impending death and yet calmly accepted this “sensing” as natural. I set about putting my affairs in order in preparation for what was coming. I wrote letters to my husband and to my two young children. I spoke of my love and belief in them, detailing each ones “gifts” as I saw them to be and encouraging them to continue forward. I then made a cassette tape to record my voice and expressed my love for them all. Placing this into a package with pictures of loving times together with them, I then hid this small gifting, awaiting a time of more surety in what was happening. I know, this may sound depressive, even negative, but I didn’t feel dark or afraid. I only felt the need to be able to touch them, to bring to them my smiles of love and hope for understanding and comfort; a guidance and light to help them if I passed. It was a very strange time. As I said, I felt calm, even comforted as I faced these feelings. When the doctors presented their belief that I needed surgery, I nodded, knowing this was it. Still, I clung to the hope that I would make it through the difficult road ahead. The surgery would be a very serious one with the added, very real concern of its potential risks. Faced with certain death if this was not done, I needed to take these risks in order to continue living.
I brought out my “package” and gave it to my husband on the day that he took me to the hospital. I told him to open this only if I were to die. He shook his head and with tears, held me closely and wordlessly denied the possibility that we both feared. I watched him place it on the bed and gave him a trembling smile as we then left for the hospital. He never opened it, never wanted to read what I had written.
I was “on the table” for five and a half hours. They had to stop the procedure a few times to keep me alive but were finally able to do what was needed, close me up, and send me on to recovery.
I was in and out of it in the recovery room, as one is after anesthesia, dimly aware of being there among others and of a nurse moving about around me. I listened to the steady beep of the EKG hooked up to me as I inhaled each breath and felt the exhales softly sighing. I looked at the steady drip of the IV. I smiled. I was yet alive. I drifted off again.
Something disturbed me and I awakened. I felt the breath leave me; a long, slow exhale and I wondered, “Shouldn’t I breath again?” I waited. There was nothing. I felt no panic about this, I was just curious. Then I felt light and wrapped in a softness I couldn’t explain. I was moving. “How can I be moving?” The room seemed darkened and I realized that I was looking down at myself upon the bed. I looked towards the nurse’s station and was then there beside her as she sat at a desk monitoring the sleeping patients. I thought of my family and then saw them below me in a room, sitting and talking quietly. My parents were holding hands and my husband kept anxiously watching the door. I touched him and saw him shiver.
Something drew me away and there was such a light all around me. I felt wonder and joy beyond anything I had ever experienced before this, an indescribable fullness of being and awareness of… more. My senses were no longer confined to the finite as I seemed to speed towards… where? I have always been curious, this time was no exception. I felt, rather than heard, the word, “Home.” A seeming mist within the light swirled and spread as figures stepped forward towards me. I couldn’t make out any features. In the center stood an even greater brilliance than the light that bathed us all and in seeing this, I felt welcomed and complete. An even greater joy, hope, and life seemed to fill me. I felt a question asked and knew this to be of the utmost importance.
“How much have you learned and how well have you loved?”
Images flashed as feelings, colors, and patterns spread out within me and from me. There was a “knowing” to it all, a revelation that all that I was seeing and felt was of… me. Happiness and warmth filled me. The brilliance grew brighter still. I felt great acceptance and love.
The figures moved towards me and I began to recognize the faces of loved ones whom I had known in life. I felt suffused with greater life than I had ever known. I wanted to stay here. I wanted to be with them. I wanted… needed… home. My grandparents came forward. They were holding my youngest brother in their arms. When I saw this precious child who had died as an infant, I thought of my two children and suddenly ached with such a deep pain.
“I need to be with them!”
I felt crushed, encased and smothered by intense pain as the nurse stood over me and slammed my chest again. I drew a shuddering breath…
I have since had other near death experiences, though these were sudden and unprepared for, but none have taken me as far as this one did. I do not fear death. Having had this experience, I know that there is more to our journeys yet to come. Until such time, I have roads yet to travel here and others to meet with so that we can share this joy of life and being.
I strive now through the actions of my life here, to fulfill my quest of learning and loving. I know from this experience that: ”Learning” is not of books but of wisdom in being and becoming; and that “Loving” is not so much of being loved but of giving love. I will go “home” someday, but for today, I will enjoy the journey.
I wish you blessings and pray that you too, will enjoy yours.