The year was 1965, and I was at my girlfriend’s house. Her family lived on a small lake in Margate, Florida, where I lived, and they were having a party in their backyard. In the 1960s, this small lake actually had a beach (today it is all grass). I was playing with my friends in the sand and shallow water.
All of the children had been told on multiple occasions, not to wander into the lake because it had a steep drop-off. For whatever reason, I began thinking of the drop-off in the lake, and my curiosity grew. I wanted to discover where the drop-off actually was. I guess in my mind if I knew where it was, I would know how far I could go out in the lake. With all the intelligence of my five-year-old mind, I developed a plan to find the drop-off. I would start on the shore and begin hopping into the water. I reasoned that with each hop, the water would go higher and higher up my legs, and then I could determine how quickly the lake dropped. If I hopped and didn't feel the bottom, I would know I had found the drop-off. However, there was one major flaw with my plan: I did not know how to swim!
I stood on the shore, and began hopping. I remember making several hops, noting the lake level on my legs, and then my next memory was looking back towards the shore, watching all the activity on the beach. I was fascinated by the activity. Everyone was just moving about. I was also aware how PEACEFUL everything was. There was brightness around me and I had absolutely no sense of fear. This ‘peace’ I felt has stayed with me my whole life, and is something I have tried to explain to those, with which I have shared this story, but I can’t find ‘Earthly’ terms to describe it.
As I watched the activity on the beach, I saw this lady with dark brown hair in a bouffant hairstyle in a one-piece bathing suit. She was looking back at me, as if she was watching me. As I bobbed in the water looking back at her, I watched her face suddenly change into a fearful contortion and she started pointing in my direction, screaming at the top of her lungs. I could not understand what was going on. Every time I write or talk about this moment, I can see her face almost as vividly today as the day it happened, as if in real-time.
The next thing I saw was a man racing into the water in big leaps, and then diving into the water. My next recollection was waking up bent over the thighs of a very large man who was pounding my back. When I awoke, I awoke to horrible pain as water was running out my nose and coughed up from my lungs. IT HURT SO BAD, especially considering the unbelievable peace I was just experiencing. I have spent way too much time reflecting on the peace I experienced during my drowning, and the immediate pain I felt back ‘on’ Earth. Once I was free of the water from my lungs, and they determined I was okay, they did what any good adult would do in Southern Florida, they put me back in the water. My mother would finally arrive to their house to get me, which is when they told her what happened. I don’t even remember speaking to her about it. Seeing me in the water playing with my friends, she must have felt assured that all was well, and it was.
It wouldn’t be until I was around the age of eight, that I would learn what really happened on that day. I finally for the first time, talked to my mother about it. I explained to her the story I just wrote above, and she was surprised to hear what I was saying. She told me that it was not exactly what she was told. The truth of that day was that I was face down in the water, just below the surface, with only my long, blond, sun-bleached hair floating on the surface of the water. It was my hair that clued the woman, standing on the shore, that something was wrong; first staring in my direction trying to process what she was seeing, then finally reacting when she realized it was a drowning child (just as I saw her do). I realized that day, at only eight, that everything I watched while I was in that ‘peaceful’ environment, with a bright light surrounding me, was an out-of-body experience. I did not know what it was called at that time.
I am now 53, and cannot go a week, sometimes even a day, without thinking of that day. It had such a profound impact on me and has affected the decisions I have made in my life.
I must add a short sidebar at this point. A few years ago, my husband sent me this video link on Ben Breedlove and his NDE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmlTHfVaU9o. Ben beautifully documents his experiences with the use of flashcards. Written on one of his cards was ‘I can’t even describe the peace. How peaceful it was.’ When he flashed that card, tears filled my eyes and I began crying because I FINALLY met (even though only through video) someone who knew the peace I experienced! It was awesome to have someone explain their experience to me, and I understood!
Sadly, Ben did not survive his illness; however, through a weird set of circumstances, I actually had an opportunity to personally thank his mother for the blessing her son gave to me with his video. It turned out, while going through the list of friends of one of my family members, Ben’s mother was Facebook friends with my family member. I could not believe this coincidence, nor understood how they were friends. I had to contact her to let her know that Ben was the first person I ever met who understood the ‘peace’ I felt, and what a blessing his video was for me. Since I was sending this message not long after the loss of her son, I did not expect a reply, but I did get one.
I’m a big believer in connectivity, but I am still amazed that I was able to personally thank Ben’s mother because of a Facebook friend link, through one of my relatives, to let her know how much Ben’s video meant to me; but this was no coincidence. But it is time to go back to that fateful day on the beach. That realization has had an impact on how I see the world throughout my entire life. Sometimes it feels like a blessing, sometimes a curse.
In closing, I just wanted to add that there was one thing I do NOT remember from that day. I did not remember the fear of actually drowning or struggling for air as I slipped below the surface of the water. The only fear I saw or felt on that day was the fear on the woman’s face, and the pain and confusion I experienced when I was being revived over the lap of that big man, while taking in my first breaths of air.
Date NDE Occurred: Spring 1966
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Drowning 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes The activity on the beach, the lady, the man who saved me.
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 I was aware of all that was happening on the beach: like a show. Then my focus was totally on this woman; after that, was the man's leaps and diving into the water. In real life, I have a bad habit when out in public, of not being entirely aware of the people in my environment. On more occasions than I would like to admit, people I know can walk right past me and I don't even see them.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was watching the face of the woman watching me.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I was unaware of all the activity on the beach. I don't even have a memory of who the children were with which I was in the water. During the experience, I remember everything.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I don't remember hearing anything, just seeing the lady scream. I don't know, maybe I heard her, but I remember the expression on her face more than the sound.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? An unusually bright light
Did you see an unearthly light? Uncertain It was more of a brightness of light all around me.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place Hard to explain: I didn't actually feel like I was in water, just watching.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? TOTAL PEACE.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Unknown
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Protestant I was only 5. Did attend Sunday school, but religion was not a concept I fully understood at the time.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain God was a part of my upbringing, but at the age of five, I suspect I hardly had much of a testimony.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Protestant
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience Since I was only five, I can't say I had a strong belief system developed.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Uncertain I would probably have explained this question differently at different stages of my life, but I know God was there. Not a man standing next to me. All around. Everywhere.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Uncertain Nothing or no one proved it to me directly, but I know what I saw and felt, and because of this, know it exists.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? Unknown
Do you fear death after your experience? I slightly fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Uncertain The Peach I felt during the drowning, vs. the pain I experiences when being revived. I've reflected on that as a symbol of life on Earth during difficult times.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes The PEACE was LOVE.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life Large changes in my life.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain Uncertain Since I was only 5 when this happened, it is unsure how they have changed, but I know it has impacted me greatly in my life.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I think I explained that above in my description of my drowning.
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience From that day forward, I remember most of my childhood events. It is like it triggered an awareness.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain Just a sense of connectivity.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The peace when I was drowning. The pain when I woke up.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes The first time I shared my experience was when I told it to my mother at around the age of 8. As I grew older, especially as an adult, I share my experience with ANYONE who I think could benefit from it or would be interested in it.
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 It just happened.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real The story is exactly the same, after all these years. I tell it, over and over, and it stays the same. Nothing leaves the story; nothing is ever added. It just is.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I almost was faced with drowning again, in my 20's, while rafting in a river. Long story, but we had to be rescued from the shore while a small waterfall kept flowing into the raft, keeping us from moving. For the first time in my life, I thought I would drown, and this time it would happen. I was full of fear. The experience was VERY different from that day as a child. However, I've NEVER been afraid of water (just of rafting down rivers).
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? No.