Eighty Seconds

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In October 2001, I had surgery to remove precancerous growths from my colon. I had this exact surgery once prior, and it was ineffective for some reason. Begrudgingly, I agreed to go through the procedure again with a new doctor. At this time in my life I had been through a series of recent events that had left me numb emotionally. I might want to preface my story with the facts that I am a gay man, who was raised in a very strict "Born-Again Christian" home. When I was a kid, I held those beliefs close to my own detriment. I have never for a moment believed there was anything wrong with me, and I always knew I was made by God in his image. I just had held faith that God knew more than I, and therefore my life was different than what others had thought it should be. The fact I was gay had always been a point of contention with family, up to that point anyway. My husband of 10 years had died at age 39 in June 2000 after a two-year battle with testicular cancer. To say I was devastated by this loss after having fought beside him, and when necessary for him, is an understatement. At the time, I was "coasting" I suppose through life, wondering what it all meant. This was also just a few weeks after September 11th. I was wondering if the world was feeling the same as I was, considering the insanity we all had witnessed and been shaken by so deeply. During what should have been a quick and simple procedure that began about 10 a.m., I found out later that the anesthetist had felt I was coming around at one point during surgery, and chose to administer another full dose. Being seriously allergic to all forms of Opiates limits greatly what can be used. On that day it was a combination of IV Valium and Demerol, I think. After I was given another full dose I was told later my heart stopped during surgery, and it took a full 80 seconds to get it to start again.

When I woke up in recovery, the nurse looking after me was pensive. I asked her the time. It was 5:30 p.m. I had been out all day in recovery when I should have been up by 1 or 2 p.m., if not for the overdose I had been given. I asked her why my throat hurt so much. She said I had been on life support during surgery because there was a minor complication. I said to her, "I know, I died." She looked at me stunned and curious. She said, "You actually remember something?" I replied with a horse laugh, "I remember everything, and it was beautiful." She said, "Tell me what it was like," but in a skeptical tone. I said, "I can tell you this much, the inside of the operating room was tiled with white and green ceramic like the 1950s. She knew all patients were actually unconscious by the time they entered the operating room. The only way I would have been able to see the interior was to see it from above as I had. With that, her mouth dropped open, and I asked her to get me out of there.

At the moment my heart stopped, I clearly remembered a sudden bolting out of my body with an almost violent speed. I stopped and looked down. I could actually sense what the others in the room were feeling at that moment, almost as if I could feel their emotions. I had great empathy for the young anesthesiologist who had been responsible for my sedation. I could feel his heart race, and the sheer dread he was feeling, realizing what had happened, and that he would be responsible ultimately if I died. I felt his emotions as if they were my own. I saw the doctor starting to freak out subtlely. Other people in the room were calm but concerned that I was not responding to their efforts to make my heart start again. I will never forget that instant of having insight into the emotions of others, how absolutely real it was, and I knew I wanted out of there. With that thought I shot up as fast as a rocket flying through the sky, possibly faster. I have heard of others taking their time to enjoy the trip, but I wanted to get out of there already. I somehow knew I was dead, and yet I was okay. I only wanted to see my husband again. That is all I was thinking. I was fascinated by the silver cord attached to my spirit. It was a silver shade for certain, but it also had a tinge of a pale purplish hue to it, or a purplish reflective quality to it. I could not say why.

As I started to slow my speed, I was suddenly aware of the brilliant, white light surrounding me and growing in intensity as I rose skyward. Suddenly I was in a place filled with love, understanding, total peace, indescribable contentment, and joy. I was aware I had no physical body and that my essence was more energy than matter. I became aware of others around me in the distance. While I knew they were there, I also knew somehow that they were not there for me, but we all knew the other. Then I saw someone come toward me. It was my husband. I have never been so full of joy and happiness before or since. This part is difficult to describe, but he had no physical body. It was him without question. If our minds interpret images in forms we can comprehend and this might make sense. He was energy in a silvery flexible ball-like shape that changed as he moved toward me. It was only when he got close that I saw what appeared to be a reflection of his physical appearance in the shape so perhaps I could know it was him, although I knew. We embraced and it was as if we spun around in circles conjoining our energy into one with the happiness and joy of being reunited. Then we talked about so many things I cannot recall now. It seemed like we were together for hours and hours sharing so many things we had wanted to say. Actually right after I woke up the biggest part of this experience was already starting to leave my memory.

What remains from the experience is the sensations and emotions. The actual knowledge I had been given and joy of contentment in understanding my life and my purpose was soon gone. I can only assume we are just not supposed to be able to remember these things or it could invalidate the life of some people. Meaning that, this knowledge is the important factor, but the journey we are each on individually is more important for our soul to experience than the answers. We will get the answers eventually. Not focusing on the journey is missing the point. During our reunion I also saw my grandma who passed away in 1978, and my nana, her sister, who had passed in 1999. I am still surprised to have been greeted by my former mother in law who also passed in 1999. In life she had always considered me to be a pain as far as I could tell. We did not have a great relationship, although we both always showed great respect to the other. There was always an underlying sense that I had made her son gay coming from her. She resented me for that, I assumed. During this experience we somehow made peace, and she did the one thing I had wanted her to do in life. She thanked me for being there for her son while he fought his cancer. She was unable to deal with seeing him so ill, and had been fighting cancer herself. She allowed me to take over his care to the point I had felt abandoned by everyone. I was left to keep him alive as he fought for two years. She and I came to understand how she really felt, and I know she was trying to tell me she did not have the words in life to ever make me understand her appreciation, but now I do. Then my husband told me I was not ready to join him yet. I had to go back and complete my purpose, and part of his purpose was in creating the person I had become to that point. As much as I wanted to stay with him, I knew I wasn't going to, and with that, I was almost instantly back in my body. I woke in the recovery room as described several hours later.

Since this experience, I have described it to very few people. My own family has shown no interest in hearing about this, as it is in direct conflict with their Christian beliefs. I do know that the concept of God as we perceive it is inaccurate. God is basically what we do when we do the right thing. God is how I treat others. God is how I treat and how I respect myself. That is the essence of our purpose I believe, to accept ourselves with love and compassion and strive to help others to do the same. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is to do, but I have not had one moment of negative after effect from this experience and I know it is a great gift. Because of it, I have let go of so many unnecessary beliefs that had clogged my soul like a stuck drain pipe. I know now that I have a purpose even if I don't know exactly what it is, and that is okay. I saw no evidence of any "Jesus" or anything related to anything religious of any kind. I take that to form a belief that these serve us in life perhaps, creating a moral "map" some need to live life. For others it is confining and not positive. I am now free of any encumbrances of the old beliefs that I was once ruled by, and I thank the heavens (literally) for that.

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