I was 2 years 7 months old at the time. What I remember is fairly simple; but was almost embedded in my brain. This was more than a typical memory. For instance, when I would try to think of my earliest memory over the years, I never thought of this one because it was so different from a typical memory. I remember being under water. I saw a brilliant light above me, and colors that were radiating around it. The colors were very beautiful and nearly indescribable. It was extremely peaceful, not a single worry in my mind. I had no desire to leave and wanted to stay right there and keep watching this. I do not remember anything before or after this. I have no memories of any struggling or troubles breathing or anything negative. Over the years, I attributed the bright light to the sun, the radiating colors as being ripples in the water, and the peacefulness and indescribable nature as an early, unusual experience as a young child. I was probably a teenager when I first heard my father recount the story of the time that I nearly drowned because my foot was stuck in rope underwater. When I heard the story, I was able to connect my experience with that incident. But, I didn't think much of it. Last year, I read Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander who was a neurosurgeon that did not believe in NDEs, yet he had an incredible one. I still did not think about my experience. Then earlier this year, after reading an article about near death experiences from a scientific perspective, some of the key points from the article helped me put the pieces together, like elements of a very strong memory, bright light, and extreme peace. I then asked my parents and brother for more details. My mother had a picture from that day, which fortunately had a date of July 30, 1972. I was with my father, older brother, and perhaps some other adults/children at the time. We were at a pond and I walked into the water. My father was watching, and let me walk until I was deep in the water. He was likely assuming I would stop or turn back. According to him, my head quickly went under the water. He came over to get me. But when he pulled me out, he could not get my head out of the water. He went under the water, and realized that my feet and legs were somehow tangled in rope left there to keep a dock or boat in place. He said the water was murky. He came up for air, and tried about 3 times before he finally rescued me. From his statements, it is likely that I was underwater perhaps 20-40 or more seconds. My brother, who was about four at the time, vaguely recalls the incident. He remembers a dock or rowboat. He also remembers that it seemed quite serious from his perspective, but that I did not need to be revived.
Date NDE Occurred: July 30, 1972
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? Entirely pleasant
Did you feel separated from your body? No
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 a child, this was a very unusual experience that I felt the need to pay attention.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Not applicable. I do not remember anything before or after, and my conscious was not raised or lowered during the experience.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
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. I do not remember anything before or after the experience.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I do not recall hearing anything during the experience.
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 Unsure if it would be considered 'unearthly'.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? A strong sense of peace, wanting to stay to experience more of it
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? No
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No
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? Other or several faiths I was brought up as Christian, but had little exposure to religion at that time.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain Due to my age at the time of the experience, because I was 2 years old
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Slightly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Other Christian
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 Not applicable because I was so young that there wasn't really any content to compare with my beliefs.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain Since I was only 2 years old, it would be hard to know if there were changes to my values or beliefs.
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? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? I am uncertain if God 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? Unknown
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? I am uncertain if an afterlife exists No
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? Unknown
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 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? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Unknown It is hard to say for certain, as I was only 2 years old when this occurred. However, this experience may help explain some of who I am. I feel a close connection to the world, and feel that I see the world in a different way than most people. For example, it pains me to see people throwing away recyclables when there is a bin right next to the trash. It pains me to see people idling their car for 15 minutes as they eat lunch, wasting gas, and contributing to polluting so they can get air conditioning, even though it is pleasant outside.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain Given that I was 2 years old at the time, it is hard/impossible to determine if relationships changed because of the experience.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The brilliancy of the light, the colors I was not familiar with, the peaceful feeling.
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. The memory is more than just a memory. As a child, when I would try to think back how far I could remember this was not included because it was so different than a typical memory.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain Since I was only 2 years old, it would be hard to know if there were any changes. However, I feel a close connection to the world, which may stem from this experience.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The peacefulness. Looking back, feeling peacefulness when you cannot breathe is profound.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It took over 40 years from the time of the experience until I realized it was an NDE. I have not shared. I only asked some family members for details, and suggested that it may have been an NDE. They were really working with me trying to figure out exactly what happened, rather than reacting to 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 I am not aware of any point where I doubted that the experience was real.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I cannot imagine that what I experienced was not real. I experienced a bright light, radiating colors, sense of peace. There was nothing about the experience that would lead me to believe that it was not real.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? PLEASE ensure that no data gets lost. When I hit 'submit', it said I hadn't answered a bunch of questions -- and the entire narrative was gone. So I likely missed some pieces as I re-wrote it.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.