I was about fourteen years old when I died. My brother and I used to hike and play all over the dry hills of eastern San Bernardino County, just north of Orange County, California. One afternoon, my brother was tinkering with an old bike and we were trying to figure out exactly how the foot pedal brake went back together. We'd do things like that when we were kids, tear something apart and figure out how it worked.
We put the rear bicycle hub together again and my brother asked me if I'd do a test ride down the steep hill on the road leading to our house. The bike was a hill-roaming boy's masterpiece. It had a big knobby rear tire mounted to the front rim and the same on the back. The old handlebars were replaced with high-rise bars from a broken banana seated bike that was all the rage in the middle 1960s. This cycle would be our dirt bike for roaming the interlaced fire roads in the dry hills.
I straddled the bike and pushed off down the hill. As I picked up speed, I noted that the bike tracked straight and rolled smoothly. I took the first steep dip and accelerated toward a sharp left hand turn that led to a steeper hill below. Just before entering the curve, I applied back-pedal pressure on the foot brake to slow down a bit. I was shocked to have the pedal push back with a violent, sharp up thrust, almost knocking me off the bike.
There was no turning back: I was committed to taking the curve and gaining speed by the second. I barely had time to lay into the sharp curve and keep my wits about me. The tires scraped gravel as I leaned deeply into the curve, and then sped onward down the hill. I tried the brakes again. This time the violent upward back thrust from the pedal almost threw me off the bike. I wobbled back into balance and was, by now, going so fast that the tears from the windblast were streaming past my eyes and toward my ears. The rubber tires whined as the bike picked up greater velocity.
I ran through any possibility of stopping the bike, but I was running out of options and my speed was increasing to the point that I had never before gone this fast on a bicycle. I thought that maybe the tires would act like a bumper if I used the rock wall up ahead to stop the bike. I know it sounds stupid, but I was running out of options and made the wrong choice. Maybe I had watched too many cartoons like some weird 'Wiley Coyote' plan that was doomed from the start. I never heard the crash or even felt any pain.
As I hit the wall, the velocity I was moving at was astounding! In an instant, the wall was right in front of me. Everything went black. I was enveloped in a stark darkness and don't know how long I was in this state. The ironic thing is that the rock retaining wall I smashed into was right in front of the volunteer fire station. No one was inside to help me; all the volunteer fire fighters were at their day jobs tending the gas station, making widgets at the factory in Chino or cutting hair.
I dimmed into light, aware that I was floating among the branches and leaves of the oak trees above me. Everything was quiet; I could hear and feel the wind rustling through the leaves. It seemed totally natural that I should be free of my body in this state. I had no desire to look upon myself crumpled within the wreckage of my bicycle. I do remember feeling sorry for that poor little boy and the injuries he sustained. This felt like my real place in the cosmos and I was ready to go forth, even if it meant never seeing my family again.
Then I heard something coming from above me. 'Angels!' I screamed with delight. The heavenly chorus was so sweet and loving that to this day, whenever I hear a choir hitting just the right notes, I well up with tears remembering that sweet emotional moment of unbridled joy when I realized I must be dead and the angels were coming for me.
I immediately found myself in darkness again, but this time it was different. The darkness wasn't enveloping me like before, I was in a tube and felt myself elevating upward. If I had looked up, I would have realized that I was looking at the interior of 'the tunnel' and that there was light upward at the end of it. Then, as if in an elevator, I emerged to find myself standing in a field, a meadow, so beautiful and infused with a life force so strong, even the blades of grass glowed with the life within. It was warm and quiet, like God was here. The love coming from his presence overwhelmed me with warmth and comfort. I have never felt a love like that before or since.
Then I heard the singing again and looked toward the sound. In the valley just below the rolling meadow, I saw a crystalline structure that was so immense that it towered above me. I wanted so badly to join the chorus within, the sound and beauty was so all encompassing. The air was filled with the joyous sound of a million, maybe a trillion bright souls singing in euphoric harmony. They sang in praise of the Lord.
Never had I ever felt so lonely. I instinctively knew that I wasn't to be a part of their joy and love. I felt their intimate connection with each other and shared an inkling of their unconditional and all-encompassing love for each other. I was apart from them and they didn't even know I was there, standing before the crystal monolith with a broken heart knowing that I might not be worthy.
Then an entity appeared beside me. I never looked at him, but I knew he was male. We talked, not with our mouths, but by a sort of telepathy, but his voice rang clearly in my head. He was gentle and straightforward.
'You have to go back. This is not for you.'
I was so crestfallen at these words, I cried out, 'No! Please don't make me go back. I want to stay with you!' These words came from a boy who was afraid of death and, even with a Catholic upbringing, feared the grave and what lay beyond.
I was answered by a loud sucking sound and I was literally sucked back into my crumpled body. The explosion of immediate and all-encompassing pain was beyond agony. It hurt to be alive again. My head felt like it was exploding from the impact with the wall. My knuckles were smashed, bleeding and raw from the handlebars slamming into the wall and my death grip on the handlebars must have endured a tremendous impact when they double punched into the rock retaining wall.
I had to extricate myself from the bike's wreckage and stumbled back up the hill. I felt like I was going to pass out and was ready to puke. My heart was broken even worse than my body. I had just been kicked out of heaven and I was ashamed of myself. I held that secret deep inside me, knowing that my family would surely ridicule me for being crazy enough to concoct a story about dying and going to heaven.
In those days, near death experiences hadn't been popularized yet and I had certainly never heard of such a thing. So, I kept my secret shame inside me until 1993, almost three decades after that tragic incident. It wasn't until I read Dr. Melvin Morse's book 'Closer to the Light: Learning from Near Death Experiences of Children', that I realized that there were others who shared my experiences as children. I wasn't entirely alone, and maybe not so crazy after all.
Through the years, I did have some deficits from my injuries. Debilitating migraines that mimicked strokes and caused me agony for many years, unequal pupils because of the injury to my head (I was never taken to the doctor after the crash), and a deep shame for having gone to heaven and found lacking in character. I felt like a piece of human trash, lost, alone and ashamed to my core.
Up until my accident, I was a happy boy. I loved to sing, joke around with my brothers and sisters, and explore the interlaced fire road trails in the hills above our home. I became sullen, serious and fearful. Most of all, I felt an overwhelming loneliness, having glimpsed what true joy and loving connections our souls are meant to have. I felt trapped, still do, in a penitentiary of flesh and bone that imprisons and inhibits our souls. I feel that humans spend most of their lives hoping to find 'true love' and wanting to connect in some way with others. I believe our souls know how it should be. Heaven, the place we all came from before coming to earth is always just a breath away.
Those five words, 'This is not for you,' had a finality for me and led me into a life where I questioned God's unconditional love. I questioned why I should even try to be good and loving. I mean, what was the purpose? Was my name written in a book where the scum are tracked, marked as unworthy and destined to go straight to hell, no matter what?
'This is not for you.'
Sure, I sinned like any other boy and made mistakes, but I had always thought that one day I'd go back home to heaven. I tended to love people and animals, tried to find the good in the world around me. I certainly never thought I was so bad that heaven would chuck me back into my body like something foul, spewed like vomit from the belly. Or maybe I was just crazy and imagined it all. Of course, I knew it was as real as my destroyed bike. There was no escaping the fact that I had gone to a place that I long to return to. Sometimes snippets of memories would come back of the time before I was born, like playing in a cosmic Kindergarten. I remember being happy and singing - And being loved. Where was the love now? Why do I feel more alone since I died and went to heaven?
I have to believe that I've somehow redeemed myself over the years. I spent most of my life working in ambulances and in the fire department. This is not a redemptive overture to heaven, but because I truly feel for those who need urgent care. When I was injured and killed, there was no one to help me, even on the very doorstep of the fire station. I never saw my body lying there, but I felt great compassion for 'that poor little boy'.
I am not entirely doom and gloom about my childhood NDE, though. I know there is a love that transcends all others; that Jesus is who he says he is and he loves me. Jesus has come to me twice since my accident whenever I needed him most. He is loving and kind, and has a sense of humor. He talks in a matter-of-fact tone and is actually quite a friendly fellow. He knows me as well as my heart, so maybe there's hope for me after all. So, somewhere inside me lies a hope that the day will come when I'm welcomed back to heaven and those five awful words seem like just a bad dream.
You can never lose hope, otherwise there's no reason to live.
Date NDE Occurred: June 16
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes AccidentDirect head injury Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
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 As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? From the time I was above my body until being told I had to go back during my visit to heaven.
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
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. Colors, feelings were vivid. I knew God and Jesus were real. I still remember like it was yesterday.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could feel everything, was connected to souls - at least intuitively. I could hear the souls singing in joy. I suffered terribly when told to go back.
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? Yes I was inside the 'tube' like an elevator. I was looking at the black walls and emerged in a meadow with a huge crystal structure in the valley.
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 A life form stood by me. We telepathically communicated.
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: 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 The light was God and it infused everything.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I was in a beautiful meadow with a valley off to my right. A huge crystalline structure holding billions of joyous souls emerged high above the valley.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Love, joy, happiness, understanding and finally, emotional pain.
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
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control I learned that we are meant to live in love and harmony. God is the source of all love and Jesus is who he says he is. All life is connected. From that point of view, the body is a prison to me.
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? Conservative/fundamentalist Catholic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I practice no formal religion now and consider myself a Christian.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist Christian
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I practice no formal religion now and consider myself a Christian.
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 God is the source of everything and the creator. Love is universal. There is a higher purpose and existence for us. Being back in my body makes me lonely.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I seek a kind of love no human is capable of giving. I have never met another NDE experiencer so I feel like no one truly understands me. Sometimes I feel depressed over the whole thing.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I have seen and interacted with ghosts. I had a premonition of a unique plane crash once that came true. I seem to be more intuitive and creative than before the NDE.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The fact that I felt perfectly normal floating above my body and only felt pity for it. I was prepared to leave everything that meant anything to me here on earth for a life in heaven. I did not want to come back. The entity's words, 'This is not for you,' haunt me to this day.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Almost thirty years. I was unaware that others shared this experience until about twenty-seven years later, after reading Melvin Morse's book. I feel very alone since my NDE and always searching for that unconditional love and connectedness ever since.
Others usually look at me as if I'm crazy or try to rationalize my experience, telling me, 'Well, it must really be (fill in the blank).' My girlfriend doesn't understand how I could have seen heaven and feel alone and hurt that I was sent back.
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 was real, I know it was. It wasn't the product of a dying brain or lack of oxygen. God touched my soul. I kept the secret to myself out of shame for being kicked out of heaven and knew that no one would believe me or think I was lying or crazy (the year was 1964).
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It's real and I have spent my life wanting to go back. I have this nagging fear that heaven's 'not for me.' If it wasn't real, those words wouldn't haunt me. In my life, Jesus has appeared to me twice during times of great need.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I hope that the entity didn't mean exactly what he said to me and there's hope that my name is in 'The Book of Life' as described in Revelations. Even though I sometimes feel like I don't belong in heaven because of those words, I live my life as cleanly and compassionately as possible. There's always hope and I know Jesus loves me.