My mother, brother and I were staying in a guest house next to the hospital where they were treating me, and every day I'd go over there and would have my blood taken and my condition monitored. This particular day was my brother's 15th birthday, and I was lying in a hospital bed waiting for my results to come back so I could get out of there and hang out with my family.
After a time, I noticed, almost idly, that there were long stretches between breaths and I had to remind myself to take one. I could feel myself fading and I knew, without question, that I was about to die. I had a strong sense that this was both okay and necessary. I understood that death was not an enemy, that my death was one of many required to move the human spirit forward. I was glad it was me this time and not someone else. This pretty much answered the question I had been asking since I came down with aplastic anemia, which was 'Why me?'
My mother was by my bedside while I talked about giving away my pitifully few possessions, such as my stereo and my books. I asked her to please tell my older brother that I didn't mind. And, with that, I surrendered. I simply let go of life.
I immediately found myself wrapped in a velvety blackness, which held a feeling of being somewhere else. There was no pain, no fear; I was still around, aware of what was happening, but for the moment, nothing WAS happening. Then, in the next moment, I found myself reliving my life. I mean my WHOLE life, every bit of it, and it took no time at all. When I saw the film 'American Beauty', I thought that the person who wrote that final speech about when your life passes before your eyes must have had a near-death experience. It's exactly like that. It takes just a moment, but it stretches on forever, with some parts standing out more than others. You could call it a 'life review' but it was more in-depth than that. It was multi-faceted. These were the facets. First, I experienced incidents from my life from my own point of view, second, from the point of view of whoever was with me, and third, from the point of view of a witness, a watcher of sorts, all simultaneously. One occasion I relived affected me deeply. I was in the eighth grade and was with my friends at school leading them on in verbally abusing another one of our friends. It was cruel behavior and I was drenched in it. I got to be me and experience that secret little thrill you get when you are cleverly mean to someone. I got to experience the admiration, tinged with fear, of the girls who were going along with me, and lastly, I also experienced the humiliation and pain of the one we were tormenting. I got to not just see her but to BE her, including her being huddled next to the lockers, alone and crying, after the rest of us had left. I found myself full of remorse, first, over what I had done, and then over the fact that I was dead and couldn't make up for it. My mind and my heart were crying out, 'I'm sorry! I'm so, so sorry!', when I heard a chuckle and felt a presence with me in the blackness. The presence expressed amusement over my despair and answered, with heart and mind, something to the effect of, 'You were just a kid, how bad could you have been?' Along with this communication, I was embraced by love, a love that had layer upon layer of compassion. It felt like home, like coming inside from the snow to a warm fire, the smell of good things cooking and the laughter of family. And it was euphoric beyond anything I'd felt before or anything I've felt since.
Then I remember waking up. The nurse told me I had given them quite a scare, that when they tested my blood, the counts were too low to sustain life. They had been worried they wouldn't be able to give me a blood transfusion in time to keep me from slipping away. I, on the other hand, was disappointed I was still alive.
Date NDE Occurred: 'August 22, 1980'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I had been diagnosed with aplastic anemia and was in a hospital in Tacoma, Washington, awaiting transport to Seattle for a bone-marrow transplant.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? No
I lost awareness of my body
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal The most alert and conscious I've ever been was during the entire experience.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The most alert and conscious I've ever been was during the entire experience.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Every moment of my physical life was compressed into what felt like a very short period of time. To answer the next question, everything was experienced all at once and time was sped up. It was both.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Someone came to me. The presence felt and sounded male and he had a surprisingly humorous personality. I remember thinking that if he was the angel of death, he was the kindest angel of all.
The experience included: Darkness
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt every emotion there is, and I felt them all acutely.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control And from it I learned a great deal. I have tried to be a kinder person, partly from the knowledge that I will experience the consequences of my words and deeds when I die again and partly because I'm aware that there are consequences of my words and deeds right now.
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate 'Baptist father, Jewish mother, went to Catholic schools, no particular religious affiliation, belief in God as an omnipotent father-figure.'
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes And they are still changing.
What is your religion now? Liberal Spiritual worldview that is probably closest to an evolution of Christian Gnosticism.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes And they are still changing.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes I found out that we don't die.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain I don't know what they would have been like if I hadn't had the experience, though.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I can describe some of what happened, but not the whole of the experience. It has a fullness of meaning that we fumble for on this plane of existence. It's like trying to describe color to someone who has always been blind. You have to have gone through something like that yourself to understand it.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I'm not sure they are special, not sure they are gifts and not sure I didn't have them before.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? This question made me laugh. Like...'You experienced the Afterlife. Other than that, was there anything meaningful or significant?'
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared it immediately with my family and with others who've expressed interest over the years. Their reactions depend on what they already believe.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I immediately knew that the experience was definitely real. I've never questioned the reality of the experience.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I still know that the experience was definitely real. My view now is that I wonder how many people need to have near-death experiences before those of us that have, stop getting asked 'Well, yeah, but was it really real, or do you only think it was real?'
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain I wouldn't say 'reproduced,' but, whoever was with me in the darkness is with me still.