THE OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE
JEFFREY (from Unlimited Realities)
Published in 2001 — Spiritul Frontiers
My body stiffened at my son’s terrified cry. “Mom, Mom, watch out!” As I was driving, I was blinded by approaching headlights, sudden and huge, shining through my car’s windshield. I realized with horror that the vehicle was headed right toward Jeffrey. I threw my right arm off the steering wheel, trying to protect my son. At the same instant I heard an enormous crash, and, wrapped together, Jeff and I were flying forward. The top of his head hit the rearview mirror just as the left side of my head slammed into the windshield. I heard a thud, and the world shattered into white fireworks. Then, all at once, everything stopped. There was nothing but silence. My arms were still tight around my son. I looked down and saw a red stain forming where his head lay on my shoulder.
It was eight in the evening on November 30, 1979. My car was stopped at the top of an infamously steep hill on Lake Street in Saddle River, New Jersey. I was taking my fourteen-year- old son Jeff to a party at his friend Eddy’s house. In the back seat was Mike, another friend who was coming along with Jeff. Our car was just about to turn left into Lomas Lane, where Eddie lived. Jeff and Mike were waving out the car windows to their friends, and they all were whooping and laughing the way only boys can at that age. We’d get to the party in less than a minute, I thought. But a drunk driver saw to it that we never arrived.
“Mike, go get help,” I whispered, trying to turn my head toward the back seat. A sharp pain began at my left shoulder and tore across my back. “Go get help!”
Both cars were in terrible shape. The white BMW had slammed into my Oldsmobile Cutlass with such force that its engine was pushed into our front passenger’s door. The door was so mangled that it looked impossible to pry open. But as Mike lunged forward in his fear to get out, a figure appeared inside the car. It looked like an extraordinarily beautiful being all aglow with pure white light. Whatever this thing was, it was nothing like a dream or a vision. The entity was really there, I was sure, just as much as the boys and I were. The entity reached out its hand and touched the mutilated door, and immediately it swung open. Mike, dazed and unaware of anything but his terror, shot outside and began running up the street to Eddy’s house. Shocked beyond pain, Jeff and I sat in the car and waited for the ambulance. There was more and more blood on my coat. Oh, God, I thought, how badly is Jeff hurt?
Less than five minutes before we had been laughing and talking about the party, and now a deep hole inside me had opened up, and hideous fears were flying out every which way, uncontrolled. He’s hit his head so hard, I thought. Is my son going to die? Dear Lord, please, please send help as fast as you can, I prayed as the bright stain grew bigger. I began to rock Jeff back and forth in my arms.
“Jeff,” I murmured, “why are you bleeding?”
“I don’t know,” he whimpered.
“But why are you bleeding?” I asked again, uncomprehending. The fears were coming at me like attacking creatures. I recalled the odd, worried look on my mother’s face as we were leaving the house. “Drive very carefully, dear,” she said. “I have a funny feeling about your going. Perhaps Dad should drive the kids … No? Well, be sure to watch out, dear.”
I began to feel myself floating upward. I realized I was still sitting behind the wheel, but I also knew that, at the same time, I was hovering in a place just above my body. Before I had the chance to think about the strangeness of the feeling, I found myself hurrying down the street toward Eddy’s house. I rushed through the front door. “Jeffrey’s been hurt,” I told Eddy’s father. “Somebody hit our car, and Jeff’s head is injured. Please hurry.” A strange awareness came over me as I realized I spoke not with my voice, but with my thoughts. To my amazement, Eddy’s father could neither see nor hear me, and he passed right through me, running outside toward the tangled vehicles. I saw other people on the block running down the street too. I stood there alone, feeling confused and helpless.
Slowly I made my way through the dimness, back down the street to the tangled cars. I saw people milling around and heard their confused talking. Several of the boys were crying. There were sirens. Men were hurrying to the car. I watched them from a distance as they pried the driver’s door open and dragged my body out. Copious blood stained my coat and slacks. “Keep her head straight,” someone said. “Be careful of her back.” I saw the men lay me onto a gurney and then lift me inside the back of an ambulance.
Eddy’s father, his face ashen and sweating, asked to ride in the ambulance with us, but the emergency medical technician wouldn’t let him in. “It’s too crowded with both of them in there,” the technician explained.
My son called out to Eddy’s father, “Call my grandmother. She’s at our house.” The emergency medical technician asked Jeff, “Which hospital should we take you to? Valley or Good Samaritan?”
“Valley,” Jeff answered.
With that, the EMT stepped up into the ambulance, shut the doors, and with sirens screaming, we began the fifteen mile drive towards Ridgewood. Two medics were working on my body. One was administering CPR and the other was giving me oxygen. “Her heart’s stopped!” one of them exclaimed.
Suddenly worldly feelings faded away. Jeff, the car crash, the terror, the blood, Mike running to get help; everything was gone. I began floating upwards, higher and higher. Up I went, up out of the top of my head. I realized I was reaching out, reaching, reaching. What was I reaching for? I felt myself floating towards a tunnel, while being drawn into a bright light. With an awareness of great relief, I felt the lifting of a heavy burden of pain and fear, as I traveled.
My internal world of thought was still clearing as the bright light swirled toward the perimeters of my subconscious. I began to remember the headlights, those headlights racing right toward my son … the BMW coming over the hill so fast … the crunching sound that could be both heard and felt at the same time … the impact … the slow but inexorable force shoving me past any sound or awareness of pain into this void. I tried to gain control of my hearing. Why was it so quiet? Where was the screaming that had ripped through my senses a moment ago? Or was it really only a moment ago? Time seemed to have disappeared. I struggled to shake myself back into consciousness. Fear gripped my heart in the darkness as I struggled to shake myself back into physical consciousness. Something was wrong with me. Something was very different. My body was enormously different. I realized that the body I was in felt transparent, weightless. A deeper fear gripped my returning awareness. Had I been killed? Was I dead? I had often wondered what it would be like to die, to pass beyond the boundaries of space and time.
Gravitational forces were suspended. Space and time seemed blotted out. Again I was aware of the sensation of weightless movement. I was rising, escaping. It was like the first plunge on a roller coaster, but a roller coaster turned upside down; it was like falling upward.
Doubts and fears hit me like stones thrown against a windowpane. Was there an afterlife? A Heaven? My beloved Grammie Hemphill had promised me that a loving, all-powerful God truly existed. There simply was no doubt about it. It’s so easy to believe when you’re little and walking hand-in-hand with your grandmother through the woods or sitting close to her by the fire. But was there really, really such a thing as life after death, I wondered, all the while helplessly flying through the tunnel. My eyes widened. (Did I still have eyes, or was this just an illusion?) What if death really were a dark, heavy door banging shut, and after that final slam there was nothing, nothing at all? Right at the moment I felt more like a piece of nothingness than I ever had before. But I was still not completely nothing. I was aware of myself. I was still thinking. That was something. I started the mantra, “I think, therefore I am, I think, therefore I am,” because I couldn’t imagine nothingness. There was no category in my mind or experience for such a notion. Nothingness conflicted with all my training and instincts. Nothingness as the final state of life would make a mockery of humanity, I thought. Either human beings have souls, or they dream them up to avoid the dread of an endless void. One cannot live without hope, even if it is a false hope. Still, I realized with a shock of joy and relief, I was continuing to think and feel. I existed!
Slivers of recollection zoomed past and I numbly grappled with them before they slipped away. Try to remember. I had heard someone saying something of great significance. What was it? Try, try, try to call it back. The words came again, like dancing, prismatic lights. With great effort my mind reached out and grasped them. It had been a man speaking. “We’re losing her; quick, we’re losing her!” Then a female voice had shouted, “What a mess. Stop the bleeding! Stop it!” Then there were other voices too, but a mist rolled over them and they disappeared. Half-formed shapes faded in and out of view. I struggled to focus.
Suddenly I heard another voice, the familiar voice of a fourteen year old boy, “No, no, please, no. Oh, God, no.” Then a wail, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it. Mom, Mom wake up. No, God no. She can’t really be … “Then the voice was crying. Mental shapes slowly crept into view beyond the bounds of my awareness. I struggled to focus, to comprehend. They were darker than the rest, harder to grapple with, yet I must.
So, I thought, I am dead after all. I died, and now I am in the middle of the great mystery. I had waited all my life to know the truth about God. I tried to raise my head to see, but everything was dark. Should I be afraid? I was afraid, that was certain, but should I be? At least I was still feeling something. If life ended in nothingness, I wouldn’t be feeling anything. I wouldn’t BE at all. So I rejoiced in my fear. I wanted to jump up and down with joy because of my fear. Fear was something. Even darkness was something. Darkness and fear — these two things gave me hope as I continued my upward fall. I had the distinct impression that time no longer existed; neither did space. Yet, paradoxically, my thoughts still flowed in something like a time sequence, and I felt like I was moving somewhere.
Yes, I still existed, and that was good. Or was it? It all depended on the nature of this new kind of being. What if this dark tunnel went on and on forever? Would I be pulled into the darkness forever with this upward rush? My heart pounded in my chest. (Did I still have a heart, a chest?) I remembered stories my mother and grandmother had told me, accounts of Heaven and Hell and the afterlife. I wished that I had paid more attention. Why had I always been so busy with life’s trivialities? The day before the accident I thought it was life-shatteringly important to get the grocery shopping done. I remembered the urgency I had felt to get to the A&P so I could find just the right things to fix for my visiting parents. Now it all seemed a million, million miles away. A few nights earlier, I had briefly looked up through the chilly air to the stars. For a moment I marveled at the size of the universe and pondered the meaning of existence. I remembered how small I had felt then, smaller than a dot on the eye of the smallest ant.
Maybe I should have taken time, gone to church more, studied more and opened my eyes to the real essentials of life. But there had always been more immediate distractions instead, day-to-day questions like what I should wear and whether I should fix roast beef or fish for dinner, what was good on TV, whether my sons would come down with chicken-pox, how to make enough money to keep going, or whether I would look good in a new hairstyle.
Panic seized me again. What if this wretched darkness went on forever? What would I do then? I tried to force myself to move farther along the tunnel, hoping to get closer to the bright light beaming from far away at the other end. My mind kept up its zigzag dance from molecules to universes and anything in between. Some of my friends had taken their beliefs from Eastern religions, I thought. For them, all things were part of the Cosmic Unconscious. Everything was God and God was everything. God was impersonal, a life-force, the unknowable principle behind the curtain. Life is fulfilled only as each one of us loses his or her individual identity and sinks back, disappearing into the “nothingness of what is.” I hadn’t been impressed with what seemed to be an Americanized, homogenized version of paganism, Hinduism and Buddhism. It seemed everyone was desperate to find meaning behind their hurried pace of life. In their desperation they had created many varieties of gods in their own image. The ego ruled in many cases. I decided to set aside the other jumbling thoughts crowding for attention.
I had to make sense out of all this craziness. I needed to find a definite reason and was thinking as fast as possible, while I still had time. I believed strongly in the Lord God Jehovah of the Bible. I had heard the Bible stories during my lifetime, from my Mother and Grandmother, as well as my Aunt Claramay. I was brought up with a strong New England Baptist background. I knew I had received The Lord’s blessings many times. After all, hadn’t He brought me my boys and everyone else I loved?
The sensation of acceleration brought me out of my thoughts. I was rapidly speeding toward the bright light. On my left and right I started to notice flashes of light and patches of a deeply disturbing kind of darkness that was somehow darker than pure black. Ebony. It was all rushing around with a speed that made me dizzy and nauseated. “Stop, stop!” came the piercing scream. I didn’t realize it at first, but it was my own voice. I ached to go back to the familiar world, my home, my mother, my children, my daily routine. I wanted to watch the news with my father, hug my boys, eat dinner, and sleep in my own bed. But all that was impossible now.
My mind reeled back to the question of religion. Not only had I known atheists and so-called New Age people, but I had also come across those who spoke about God as though they knew everything about Him, right down to the color of His beard. And, of course, the Almighty was without doubt a Him, so there was no question that He had a beard. These people knew for sure that there was life after death. The Bible said so. These deluded simpletons were stuffy, hypocritical, and always attacking everyone who questioned their beliefs. These people thought they had the only valid tickets to Heaven. Everyone else was headed for a place where there was a lot of suffering and emotional turmoil. How could such bigoted people have the real information about the afterlife? Oh, God, I hope they’re not right.
The surrounding darkness was changing into a rosy-colored hue as I continued to search for answers. How many possible ways were there to explain existence? Reality demands an explanation. Whenever I read the Sunday paper, I was always amused by the religion page, with its little boxed-up advertisements for all sorts of places of worship, each one with its own particular little set of rules and beliefs, its tidy little collection of “do’s” and “don’ts.” There must be hundreds of explanations of what God is, what He does, and why He does it.
I longed for the Universe to explain itself. Had it existed forever, or did it have a beginning sometime in the past? Every machine or work of art has a creator, someone who thought of it and then made it. After all, grandfather clocks and Mona Lisa’s and houses, even very little houses, don’t suddenly appear out of nowhere. So how could something as enormous and complex, as beautifully ordered as the Universe just appear out of nothing? Well then, who made it? How did it get here? And, for that matter, what would explain the unique qualities of human beings, their personalities, their creativity, their ability to think abstractly, and, especially, their capacity for unselfishness and love?
Again the darkness deepened. I was certain now that I had burst through the barrier of time and had entered a strange sort of new existence. My body felt very different. It became light and transparent. Then terror again seized my thoughts. What if this continual, wretched darkness is forever? What would I do then? I tried to force myself deeper into the tunnel, where a bright light was beaming from the center. I made out two indistinct forms of light a little way ahead of me. A silvery blue light was on the right, and an orange-red light was on the left. Their brilliant radiance obscured their shapes. First I thought they might be angels. Did human-like creatures with wings exist anywhere outside fantasy and imagination? Perhaps the idea of angels was silly, outrageous, and foolish. But until the car crash, I would have thought everything I was experiencing right now was silly, outrageous, and foolish. I remembered that a light being had opened the door of the car to let Mike out. Could that have been an angel?
Things seemed clearer in this new environment; my mind felt more lucid and agile than it had before the car crash. I was thinking faster, much faster. I was analyzing multiple reasons for human existence so quickly that it seemed I was thinking three or four thoughts all at the same time. Suddenly everything came into focus. It was simple, I realized. The possible reasons for how and why we came to exist were not endless. There were only three. All the religious, philosophical, and scientific theories I could think of boiled down to three basic solutions.
I was spinning again, twisting and turning upward and outward, struggling to keep my center and not be pulled out of myself. What was I thinking about? Concentrate! If I stop thinking, I will be pulled into the blackness. I think, therefore I am; I think, therefore I am. If I stop thinking, I will stop existing. If I stop thinking, I will fall backward into the darkness. I can feel it pulling me toward a bad place; there is a black emptiness that wants to envelop me. I can feel the light too, drawing me forward. I think I want to go that way, but does the light want to devour me? Does it want to eradicate me in its bright flames? I must get my thoughts in order. It’s the only way I can stop spinning out of control.
Where was I? What had I been thinking? About the origin of the Universe and the idea that there were only three possible solutions to the riddle life and of how we got here. The first explanation was that the whole Universe just appeared, alakazam and presto-change-o, out of nothing. I rejected that idea instantly. It didn’t make sense; it seemed to go in one brain cell and out another. That left only two possibilities, either a personal beginning or an impersonal beginning. The Universe was ultimately the result of either impersonal “matter” configured by time plus chance, or it could be that the Universe was created by a purposeful, thinking entity. That’s it, pure and simple: random process or a living creator – “A” or “B.”
On an earthly scale, every action has a reaction; every choice has a consequence. What if, oh God, what if our choices and actions on the earth somehow impact this strange afterlife, or our next life, if any? I wish I’d thought more about consequences. Then it occurred to me that maybe earthly life, which I suddenly realized was very short, could be a kind of preparation for an ultimate union with this creator. Oh, God, I might be in big trouble.
The two figures of light ahead of me were glowing brighter now. I tried to dismiss the suspicion that they were angels. Probably they were just some kind of cosmic glare, or maybe my eyes were just dazzled. No, the two entities were still there, their blue and orange lights getting brighter all the time. They kept traveling along, always right ahead of me, almost like escorts. Oh, Lord, what if they were escorts? What were they taking me to? Did I really want to go wherever that was? Did I have a choice? The mist was dispersing. I was drawing near to something important, but what it was I didn’t know.
The glowing almost-like-escorts ahead of me were now joined by others. Some were like the original pair, made of various colored lights. But there were others too, and they had no light at all. They were like the shadows of shadows, like darkness intensified, like the opposite of matter. If there were such things as black holes, then that’s what these things were. They seemed ominous and full of treachery. If I drew too close to these dark voids I would be swallowed up by their darkness, canceled out. As I looked, the dark objects began to far outnumber the bright ones.
Think, think, come on think! Memories of the car crash kept intruding like a bad dream. The sounds of crunching metal and words of death still rang in my ears like clashing cymbals. The darkness continued to brighten and the mist gradually dispersed. I had the distinct impression I was drawing near something important, but what it was I didn’t know.
My heart was beating fast. I had to prepare. Prepare for what? Oh, I wish I had paid more attention when I had time to pay attention! Where was I? The world came into being in one of two possible ways, there’s just no way around it: a) personal and b) impersonal. Since reality cannot have emerged out of absolute nothingness, something has to be eternal, either matter or a personal being. So, what are the implications of each? One would tend to have moral, ethical, and relational overtones, whereas the other would not. Was God truly a personal God? I was terrified. I felt as if I were running out of time to think. I must remember to think!
Without warning, I was back in the ambulance. I felt as though I had fallen from the top of a high building and landed flat on my back on the sidewalk. The shock was enormous. The pain in my chest was close to unbearable. How heavy and helpless I felt, like a rag doll stuffed with buckshot. Somewhere above me, something was shrieking out, “Hurry, hurry, danger, danger,” but without words. It must be the siren, I thought. I felt my body slide to the left as the ambulance flew around a corner. Where was Jeff?
“Mom, are you okay?” Jeff asked.
I saw him lying next to me, safe. Someone had wiped the blood away from his face, and the nurse was tending to the gash in his scalp. I began to relax. My son was going to be just fine. I closed my eyes in relief, and then I was floating away again. I left the pain behind in the ambulance. Out I went, reaching upward. The light grew brighter and brighter. This time, to my delight, all of the horrible black fearsome shapes were gone. There was no fear. It had fallen away like an old, dirty coat that you take off and throw into the trash. I could smell flowers. They were roses, my favorite. I was enveloped with the sound of beautiful music.
“Her heart’s stopped again.” The medical technician’s voice floated up to me from far away. I didn’t look back. I wanted to know what was ahead. The two forms of light came softly back into view. Now I saw human figures looking at me from within the radiance. Did I know them, or was it my imagination? Could it possibly be Joe in the center of the red-orange light and Ronnie in the center of the silver-blue?
Joe, my darling, my husband, had died the year before, just a few months after we lost my stepson, Ronnie. Yet there they were, speaking to me without words. It seemed as if they were placing thoughts into my mind. The colors were vivid now, and I felt pure love beaming down on me from within the light. I reached forward harder, determined to get to that place.
I heard a woman speaking from far, far away. I slowly realized that it was the nurse inside the ambulance, and I knew she was talking to my son. “Call to your mother, Jeffrey,” she said. “Take her hand and hold onto it.”
“Mom, Mom,” came the cry. “Please wake up. I love you so much.” I was jerked back into my body as the nurse put my hand into my son’s. I love you too, darling, I thought, but there is something wonderful I have to get back to. I don’t want this heaviness and pain. I’m going to the place where Joe and Ronnie are.
Quickly, I floated back out. The light was so bright, and its attraction was irresistible. Then I heard, “Go back, you must go back. It’s not your time to join us,” Joe and Ronnie called in unison. It felt like they were placing their thoughts directly into my head, directly into my being. “Go back, go back. There is work left that you still have to do. You must write. There are things waiting for you to learn and discover, and there are things you must write about.” I didn’t know whether the words were separate from me or within me. Wherever they were, I didn’t want to hear them. I began to realize that my body was changed. As I reached forward, I saw light glowing through my hand and arm. I felt weightless. There were no physical limitations. I was made of light, and I could see light passing through me. My thoughts were clear. I was aware that my new body was the double of my ordinary body, but it wasn’t made of any physical material. This body was transparent light. Any sense of time or distance was obliterated. I knew absolutely that I was one with all things. Rain and sunlight could pass through me, but I wouldn’t feel them, and they wouldn’t be able to affect me. I felt as if the molecular structure of my body had melted like a patch of snow in the spring sunlight.
Just as movement is unimpeded in this spiritual state, so, I discovered, is thought. I could feel ideas and images flying out of my mind, faster and faster. My thoughts became clear and effortless. They instantaneously shot outward, and the replies from Ronnie and Joe came back to me just as quickly. “Go back, you must go back. You must write, they echoed in unison.” The telepathic message from Ronnie and Joe was coming directly into my being. Within the glow of the soft orange and blue light, they were holding their arms out, as if to stop me from coming any closer. I felt desperate. Please don’t send me back, I thought to them, I love you so much.
Yet even as the two figures gestured for me to go, a brilliant yellow light behind them was drawing me forward. The force of love from that yellow light was immensely powerful, unlike any I had ever felt before. It was a desire that filled my entire being and went beyond me, filling the tunnel and all space behind me and before me. I felt as if I were returning to a very familiar place, one I recognized, longed for and loved. I hung suspended, lost in timelessness, as the light blinded me for a moment. Then I surrendered to it. I received my answer in the brightness of that experience. I knew the angels and God were real and ever present. My faith had been renewed and restored. My teaching and lifetime training became an active part of my being. At that moment, all I wanted was to be completely immersed in the light and be filled with the great love that was there. I wanted to realize and receive more and more knowledge. I had been given the golden key. What was I to do with it?
“Mom! Mom!” came the plea from Jeffrey. With a powerful jolt, back into my body I came, this time to stay. We had just reached the emergency room entrance of Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
For the next ten days I lay in the hospital on an air mattress with my neck tightly fitted into a brace so I couldn’t turn my head. The doctors told me I had received a severe concussion to the left side of my head, especially affecting the left frontal lobe of my brain. Because I had grabbed Jeff, he had avoided going through the windshield and only hit the rearview mirror. Since Jeff hadn’t gone through the windshield, his body had prevented me from hitting the glass much, much harder. “It looks like that hug of yours saved you both,” one of the doctors said. “You saved his life, and he saved yours.”
My car, a heavy Oldsmobile sedan, was totally wrecked, as was the BMW that had hit us. The other driver, so drunk he didn’t know exactly what had happened, walked away without any injuries. He never, then or later, asked whether the people in the car he had hit were alive or dead. Mike, thank Heaven, was fine.
When Jeff came to see me the next morning, his poor head was swollen, and there was such a thickness of bandages wrapped around his head and jaw that he looked like a walking pumpkin. The doctors had put sixteen stitches in his scalp and forehead. But for all that, he was fine except for a minor concussion. He was preparing to go home. “Are you ready, Mom?” He asked.
“I’m afraid I’m not going with you just now, Jeff,” I responded. “Grandma and Pop-Pop are here and will take care of you and Vance. I have to stay in the hospital and rest.”
“When are you coming home?” Jeff asked, surprised.
“I’m not sure,” I said, trying to look away as I answered. I didn’t want him to see my tears.
As soon as he left, I was filled with fear and despair. Yes, my son and I had been spared. Yes, I had seen and felt something of amazing beauty and ecstasy. Yes, I had been given a vision of two dearly beloved people whom I thought I would never see again. I shared thoughts with them. But none of that made much difference at the moment. I felt alone and in pain. The concussion I suffered caused my ears to ring and my head to pound. I could not move without help. Because my neck was in a brace, I could not turn my head in any direction. The fever caused me to feel nauseous, and the IV made me drowsy. I was completely helpless. The peace and the bliss were gone. There was a hollowness within me now. A long parade of dismal and frightening thoughts marched through my mind. My son and I had experienced a grievous wrong. I didn’t know how long it would be before I recovered. I was lying in a hospital, having to endure the embarrassment of sponge baths and bedpans. I was forced to stare perpetually at the monotonous cream-colored ceiling. My only food was tea, spoon-fed to me by an orderly. Friends telephoned and sent flowers and cards, but only my parents were allowed to visit. I was acutely sensitive to sound and light. The headaches were almost unbearable, and the blinds were always kept closed. As if all this weren’t enough, my personal, built-in doom machine began reminding me that the horizons of my fear and pain stretched much, much farther than the car crash.
For the past ten years, I had been in the hospital about every six months, fighting severe kidney infections and other illnesses. My beautiful daughter died in my arms in 1975. Closely following that came the horror of discovering I had ovarian cancer. Then came my total hysterectomy. After the cancer surgery, my husband and stepson had died. Then I lost my home. I didn’t have any money left, and I didn’t know how I was going to get any more. I didn’t have much faith left, and I didn’t know how I was going to get any more of that, either. I had no idea what to do next. Mother had brought us up with a strong Christian faith. Where was that strength now? The world seemed to be nothing but a storm of injustice and chaos. Everything we love is taken from us. Tragedy can come at any moment, and there is nothing we can do. If God is real, He either doesn’t care about us or He can’t help us. I was filled with fear and despair. “Please, please,” I prayed, although I wasn’t sure anyone was listening. “Help me find a way out of this emptiness.”
Strangely, when I slept, the hollowness and terror faded away. Asleep, I reveled in the memory of my experiences in the spiritual world. I would close my eyes, and recollections of my unexplainable journey into happiness and love would flood back to me. Every time I thought about that place, the feelings returned. I felt enveloped in light. The sights, the freedom from my body, the fragrances, the music, the message, the awareness, the passage through fear and doubt, the renewal of faith, they were all there. They were inside of me. Even though I had never heard of what is now commonly called a near-death experience, I never doubted the reality of what had happened. What meaning would this whole thing have? Would I have? What direction was next for me?
Once each day in the hospital, while I lay sleeping, a wave of tingling and chills would wash over me. It was as if the energy from the tunnel had found its way back to me and was pouring through my body like a river of golden light. I felt nourished and strengthened. In the months to come, I would need to draw on every bit of that strength and every ounce of that remembered glory.