In what was late summer/early fall of 2003, I was living in an apartment in Cleveland, Ohio. I had lived there for two and a half years. During the nights leading up to the ‘main’ experience, I had been having a very hard time breathing while I was falling asleep.
As I'd be dozing off, my whole life would ‘flash’ before my eyes, every minute of it, and not as if in a dream. It was more like watching a tape in fast-forward. I would experience every emotion and every feeling of all those flying memories (if that makes sense.) Then I'd wake up FAST. Right after I'd wake up, I'd hardly be able to breathe at all, like major asthma. I hadn't been to the doctor about it, so I had no inhaler or anything. I'd just suffer through it and then go back to sleep. This happened again and again for 3 nights in a row. I was getting concerned. ‘Do I stop breathing when I doze off?’ I'd think to myself. I do remember I had moved my bed to the other side of my bedroom. I had wanted to rearrange things, because those three nights of having my life flash before my eyes and waking up not breathing just freaked me out. I felt I needed the room to be different, as if to have some control.
About a week later, I was lying on my bed, face up, going to sleep next to my four cats. I lived in the city, streetlights would shine in and it was never pitch dark in my room. In what seemed like an instant, the entire room was pitch black, like, thick: beyond not being able to see your hand in front of your face, I mean DARK.
I noticed up above me, and a little off to the right, this perfect little circle of light, like a hole in the mega-blackness. Emanating from this tiny circle was a super-white-bluish light. It was the classic ‘bright as, or brighter than, the sun, but didn't hurt my eyes to look at it’ people report in their NDEs. It's hard to describe, but I felt and ‘knew’ I was out of my body. I was over my body, which was still lying on my bed next to my cats. But I didn't care. It wasn't an overwhelming feeling as some describe, but I did feel ultimate peace: no fear, just a serene feeling of ‘being.’
As I'm looking up towards the circle of light above me and a little to the right, I saw three figures, silhouettes, if you will, of my Papaw (who died in 1980) my great-grandma (who died before I was born) and my Nanaw (who died in March of 2001). There were no faces; they were just shadows with that bright light behind them. I did feel LOVE from the light and my grandparents. There was no sound whatsoever, but I could hear my thoughts and feel theirs. No words from them, but I understood them. They all three extended their arms and did a waving of all their fingers back and forth as if motioning me to come to them, welcoming me, reaching for me. These were the exact movements my Nanaw was making towards the ceiling, in her living room minutes, before she died from cancer! That's how I recognized those motions, having seen her make them back then. I was doing it back to them, as if reaching for THEM! In my thoughts I was like, ‘I'm ready to go!’ I felt complete happiness with this. I started moving towards the circle of light they were in: they weren't stopping me! All of a sudden I thought, ‘Oh wait, I'm NOT ready to go yet!’
The very instant I had that thought, I slammed back into my bed, nearly breaking the drywall behind it and scaring all four cats out of their sleep and into leaping off the bed with big tails. It wasn't that I jerked or woke up suddenly: I SLAMMED back into the bed! I wasn't having trouble breathing anymore at this point, but I was out of breath and shaken, wondering what had just happened to me! I was shaken for days!
About a week later I got extremely sick, it felt like the flu multiplied by a thousand. Two years later, in 2005, when I got tested for HIV and turned up positive, I asked my doctor, ‘When do you think, considering my CD 4 count and viral load, that I caught this?’ He said I'd probably had it about two years, which was 2003.
About a week after my experience, I called my aunt in Indiana to tell her about it, and she told me she thought it was a ‘lucid dream.’ From all of the research I had done on lucid dreams and out of body stuff, as well as what I knew deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew it hadn't been any kind of dream. I had been so aware of where I was; even though it was so black in my room, it's hard to explain. I'd had thirty years of dreams up until that point and I'd experienced nothing like it, before or since.
I tend to have crazy dreams, too, but nothing like that, ever. I'm an artist and years later, I created a painting of what I had seen. (I wish I could send a picture to this site. Anyway, that was my NDE of sorts. It's nice to share on this site in 2012. I was obviously researching it online tonight and I ended up here! I still seek spiritual truth daily, as, although I'm pretty healthy right now, this disease and/or the world could turn bad at any moment. I just want to at least ‘have a clue’ about what's going to happen to me when I'm not in this physical body anymore. My experience made me realize there is no ‘hell.’ Thanks for listening!
Date NDE Occurred: mid 2003
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain 'In the days leading up to my experience I was having wicked asthma and breathing problems. No doctors or anything, I just suffered through it until it eventually went away. I'm a smoker and have always had related problems to that but in 2003 during THAT Other 'In the days leading up to my experience I was having wicked asthma and breathing problems. No doctors or anything, I just suffered through it until it eventually went away. I'm a smoker and have always had related problems to that but in 2003 during THAT
I was having major breathing problems and asthma, which I feel was the very beginnings of having HIV.
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? Uncertain I was ‘aware’ I was over my body and in my bedroom, but that was all I was aware of (as far as ‘earthly’ events surrounding me.)
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
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 There was no ‘earthy stimulation’ per-se. I was aware I was in my bedroom, out of my body and seeing the three people I knew. I was aware of the light and of the feeling of pure peace! All in all, it wasn't that exciting while it was happening, but I felt hyper-aware!
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was dozing off into sleep for the night, but I never really felt like, or remember, going to sleep. I lay down, closed my eyes and in a matter of an instant, the experience happened. It was all a pretty rapid event!
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Yes, in hind-sight it seemed pretty quick, a matter of minutes, but while it was happening, I remember that time seemed to have no meaning or to not exist at all, really!
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. It was thick, thick blackness like I'd never seen before, in the darkest room I'd ever been in. The light was as bright as the sun (but didn't hurt.) So, it was the contrast of simple light and dark: a billion times more vivid than usual.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Absolutely no sound, but I could almost ‘feel’ my thoughts and theirs; there weren't any words, just knowing and feeling, so hard to describe!
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain I think I was going towards the tunnel but didn't pass through it. Looking back on it now, I feel if I'd of kept going and went through that circle with my Papaw, Nanaw and Great Grandma, I would have died that night!
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
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 My Papaw, my great grandmother I'd never met, but knew it was her, and my Grandmother (Nanaw) who died in 2001.
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Unearthly light
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? Yes Bluish white, much brighter than looking at the sun but didn't hurt to look at it, and it felt like love to me. Hard to explain!
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place It was very simple, but strange and unfamiliar: the mega blackness, mega circle of light and the three family members.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt absolute PEACE, love, and no fear.
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 no longer in conflict with nature
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about myself or others I felt an understanding but wasn't ‘thinking’ about it. I just wanted to go to that light and be with my family members and NOT go back to my life, until all of a sudden, I wanted to go back to my life. Weird!
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Uncertain Just myself, changing my mind at the last minute. And I'm glad I did NOW: in 2012!
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 importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Agnostic I figured there had to be an "afterlife" because of all the ghosts I had experienced for many years but felt very lost and empty "spiritually" I grew up knowing about 'religion' but I didn't grow up with it---thankfully!!
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes My quest for spirituality pretty much got started after that: jump started it!
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Other faiths- Unitarian and other liberal faiths I guess I am probably still "Agnostic" but I do frequent a Unitarian church and am on an "in general" spiritual quest for truth and the meaning of life and MY life and to what happens when we leave our physical body aka die!
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 I mean, I feel like there's something (not necessarily a man with a white beard and robe) higher intelligence and being but it's only been in recent years I've felt like we are probably all ONE or God itself, back in 2003 I was so confused and didn't know what to believe! I recognized it as NDE from reading stories but I wasn't in a hospital or car crash, I was going to sleep in my bedroom although my stupid disease I caught was taking hold I think!
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I felt 90% more surely that there is life after death!
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 I encountered three beings, clearly of mystical or unearthly origin – all family members who had passed. I heard no ‘sound’ of voices, but heard and felt my own thoughts and just ‘felt’ theirs!
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
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? Uncertain I wasn't thinking about that but in a non lyrical non discussed way, I felt that was the case---that light was THAT!
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 felt like the "light" in that circle could of been "god" but I've had living experiences that convince me more of that existence than my experience did.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God probably exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain To me, there were no questions or answers during the experience, I just ‘knew’, there just ‘was’, it's hard to describe! I felt like the ‘light’ in that circle could have been ‘God’ but I've had living experiences that convince me more of that existence than my experience did. I’m uncertain as to whether I encountered a specific awareness in regards to ‘unity/oneness’: I wasn't thinking about that, but in a non-lyrical non-discussed way, I felt that was the case, the light was THAT! Very faint special knowledge, maybe.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife probably exists Uncertain To me, there were no questions or answers during the experience --- I just "knew" ... there just "was" --- hard to describe!
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I slightly fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Slightly fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
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? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes I just "felt" pure love from my dead family members and especially that light!
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Slight changes in my life Well, most changes happened to me when my young friend Liz died in a car accident in 2011 and she haunted the painting I did of her. (The painting had some of the car pieces attached to it.) After my 'experience' in 2003, I felt like I had the knowledge that there is life after death. That experience has been in my mind a lot during all the years leading up to now, in 2012. A lot! Slight changes in my life.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The feeling of slamming back into my bed and how the light and everything looked were easy to explain, but the communicating with the figures with no words at all but understanding them anyway. Even this explanation doesn't cut it because the experience is so hard to describe!
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 I can't even remember what month is was, what the weather was like, I know it was late summer or early fall but I remember the 'experience' like it just happened yesterday and that was almost 10 years ago now! vivid and very clear memory of the event!!!!
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Yes, that it happened right when I first got my disease and that I saw my grandmother (Nanaw) with the other two family members. I had been devastated by her death in 2001! It felt so good to see and feel her again, even if only as a black shadow! The hand gestures they were making were just like what my grandmother (Nanaw) was doing on her death bed, towards the ceiling: that was very significant! I just ‘felt’ pure love from my dead family members and especially from that light!
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes About a week after, I called my aunt about it. She thought it was a lucid dream but I don't think so. My mom and a few close friends didn't think it was a dream, either. They thought it was interesting and scary! It wasn't a scary thing to me, though, although I freaked out a bit right after I slammed back into my bed!
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I'd read many, many stories about it and had seen television shows. I’ve never known anyone personally who has had one!
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Well, just because of the way it felt, not like a dream. The kicker of the ‘reality’ of it was the fact that my bed almost went through the wall when I slammed back into my body and my cats FREAKED out from the jolt! That made it very real for me!!
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I don't know why, but I just know to this day it wasn't a ‘dream!’ I don't know how to explain it, I just ‘KNOW.’
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain I'm not quite sure what this question means. Nothing like it has happened since, but I have a very clear vivid memory of it!
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I have tried meditation and listening to drumming to have an out of body experience since then; I feel like I could never recreate THAT experience I had in 2003. It was probably not meant to be recreated. I feel if I had gone with them through that light, I'd not be typing this right now!
I mean, I feel like there's something (not necessarily a man with a white beard and robe) some higher intelligence and being, but it's only been in recent years that I've felt like we are probably all ONE or God itself. Back in 2003, I was so confused and didn't know what to believe!
I recognized it as a NDE from reading stories but I wasn't in a hospital or car crash, I was going to sleep in my bedroom. Although my stupid disease I had just caught was taking hold, I think! I can't even remember what month it was, what the weather was like. I know it was late summer or early fall, but I remember the 'experience' like it just happened yesterday and that was almost 10 years ago now! I have a vivid and very clear memory of the event!!!!
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I thought it was pretty awesome, actually!