In August of 1985 when I was only 5 years old, I was on a boat trip on a local lake. I was bitten by a mosquito and developed encephalitis. "I died" and drifted into a safe black void of comfort and ease, no pain and no fear. This was a place where I felt right at home. Off in the distance I saw a very small light. It was drawing me to it. I felt myself rushing towards this light with a great amount of speed. I was not frightened. When I came into the light, it represented peace and joy, but most of all a deep unconditional love. The light was a sparkling, glowing cloud. From inside I heard a voice in my head and I knew it was God. Since my parents never discussed God or took me to church, I really don’t know how I knew, but I did. Furthermore, I felt like this was my real home, this place where I was with this beautiful light which was God. I felt surrounded by the light and was one with it. The feeling was like being scooped up and held by my daddy when a barking dog was biting me just a few months earlier, only more so.
Another beautiful light, only smaller, joined us. It was a girl about 10 years old. She looked somewhat like me. I could tell she recognized me. We hugged and she said, "I am your sister, I was named after our grandmother, Willamette, who died one month before I was born. Our parents called me Willie for short. They were waiting to tell you about me later when you were ready." I was talking to her and she to me without words. It was too strange looking back on it, but it seemed natural at the time. She kissed me on the head and I felt her warmth and her love. "You need to go back now, Sandy," she said. "You need to save mother from the fire. This is very important, you need to go back and you need to go back now." She said it with compassion and sweetness in her voice as she smiled at me tenderly. "No, I don’t want to," I said, "let me stay here with you." "Mother needs you to save her from the fire," she repeated, still in a soft and gentle way. Like a selfish little brat, I cried and threw a temper-tantrum of the worst kind. I fell on the ground and sobbed and thrashed around and made everybody, I am sure, feel very uncomfortable.
I was shown a type of a movie in which I saw my parents, who were back on earth, sitting beside my hospital bed with great concern and fear in their eyes. They touched and talked to me and begged me not to die. "Please don’t die," they were crying. I was very sad for them; still I was not really ready to give up the beauty and awesome great feelings of all that was good about this place, this heaven. God gave me a chuckle and looked at me with great compassion. I couldn’t really see his face, but I knew what he was thinking. He was chuckling at my childish antics.
He then pointed a finger at another light that was forming in the distance. To my great shock, my dear friend and next door neighbor, Glen, formed and shouted in a loud voice, "Sandy, go home, go home now". He said it with such authority that I immediately quit crying and was back in my body in an instant.
I opened my eyes to see the joyful and relieved faces of my parents. I told them about my experience as soon as I could, which they at first called a dream. They told me that the day after I went into the hospital that our neighbor, Glen, died from a sudden heart attack. He was a kindly old man who would always invite my brother and I and all the other kids in the neighborhood into his back yard to play with his five dogs. He loved kids and would give us food, gifts and treats. His wife would eventually get tired of us and tell us all to go home. He would scold her and say, "Rose, never tell Sandy she has to go, she can stay as long as she wants". I was his favorite of all the kids who were welcomed into his home. It was such a shock to me to have him yell at me that way, that I really gave up fighting and felt a little embarrassed about my behavior. I recall feeling also a little hurt at the time. I only learned of his death after I told my story to my parents.
I drew a picture of my "angel sister" who had greeted me and described everything she had said. My parents were so shocked they had this horrified look on their faces. In puzzlement, they got up and left the room. After some amount of time they finally returned. They confirmed to me that they had lost a daughter named Willie. She died of accidental poisoning approximately one year before I was born. They decided not to tell my brother or me until we were able to understand what life and death was about. As far as the need to rescue my mom from a fire, none of us has a clue about that.
My mom is helping me write this and I asked her what would her life have been like if I had died, if I had gotten my way and just stayed in heaven. She replied, "I cried for months after Willie left us, if we lost you too it would be like a living hell, fire and all." Time will tell but maybe for now it seems like as good an answer as any. I believe we will see Willie some day and I will ask her in person what she meant.
It has changed the lives of the entire family. We go to church now and I do a lot of things differently than I had before.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.