June 22, 1994, was the beginning of a long journey and, eventually, it came to be held in my heart as the beginning of a new life. I arose early on that day and immediately headed downstairs to fetch my morning coffee and, fortunately, the walls weren't spinning around me like a whirlwind until I'd reached the bottom step. Two of my sons were still living at home. They were out of college for the summer, and still catching up on lost sleep. I remember wondering if they would hear me call to them, but they responded within seconds. A ruptured aneurysm in the brain had caused me to fall down on my living room floor at exactly the same time of morning, and in exactly the same place as their father had died from a massive heart attack five years earlier. A call to 911 had rushed me to the nearest hospital. My sons told the medical team of my life-long sinus headaches and that recently, although the severity was the same, they had been occurring on a more frequent basis.
They diagnosed my condition quickly, and recommended that I be sent via air ambulance to a surgeon who was considered to be an expert in his field. One of my children was permitted to accompany me on the flight, and my daughter became the familiar bedside face that telephoned the family back home with updated reports. There was no false hope of survival given to me by the medical staff, but their words were delivered beautifully. They assured me that everything that was humanly possible would be done for me, and their honesty and sincerity enabled me to feel very much at peace within myself about nearing the end of what I always felt was a very good life. I had been blessed with a wonderful marriage and, although it ended very suddenly one May morning in 1989, I was grateful to have had it for seventeen years. I had known what many people search a lifetime to find, and for that I had always considered myself to be one of the lucky ones. Little did I know that the wonderful memories of our years together would finally be able to be put to rest as part of a "past life," and that today would be the first day of the rest of my "new life."
At some point, I awoke after nine hours of surgery and could comprehend that I had lived through it. The best way to describe my reaction to waking up would be to say that I was stunned! Not knowing if I would ever walk, talk, recognize loved ones, or ever have any quality of life again made the "grim chance of survival" much easier to accept. I told myself not to worry about it, though, because I knew I was in trouble and figured I'd never open my eyes for the second time. They opened several days later, and this time I knew it was different. I wasn't able to do any in-depth thinking, but I knew that I was going to live and begin walking the long road back one little step at a time - one day at a time! What I didn't know was that I had been in a deep sleep for four days due to vaso spasms, but what I did know was that I had taken a beautiful trip to the other side of life.
My journey began as I stood behind a closed door. I was concerned about not being able to stand there for any great length of time, and communicated that thought to a beautiful Being of Light who was holding me up as I waited to enter. I was told that I could not open the door, but that it would open for me when it was ready. As the door finally began to open, the light was overwhelming. I entered a tunnel and had a life review for what seemed to have lasted only a few seconds. I then found myself being escorted by this loving Being of Light to the most beautiful garden that anyone could dream imaginable. Describing this garden is hard for all of us who are experiencers to put into words. How can we describe beauty that comes from within? How can any artist ever capture the magnificent light that adorns everything with an everlasting glow that shines from the inside out? The same holds true when trying to describe the feeling of being surrounded by love. Nothing can be compared to the love that accompanies us on this journey. It has been almost three years now, and it is as vivid to me today as it was in the very beginning. I eventually came to a beautiful meadow that I could not cross alone. I was to wait for my husband to come and take me the rest of the way. He was to come out of the light from behind a large tree on the other side of the meadow. I always felt that I had been there for at least four days, and when my eyes opened from my four-day deep sleep - I knew that I was back to stay!
Two days later, my sister arrived and planned to stay for as long as it took to finally bring me home. I was moved from NICU, and that was a wonderful feeling. Nothing was easy and, even though my daughter was told that I'd probably need much speech therapy, I never doubted that I would be going home soon. Several medical people lined up in front of my bed each day and asked me the same questions that I had answered on the previous day. I always knew the answers, but finding the strength to form the words and to make them heard was the hard task. Two weeks from the day I was admitted, I was discharged and able, though ever so slowly, to walk out of the hospital. I was told that I would recover 100%, but the amount of time that it would take was something that couldn't be answered.
I spent the first three weeks of my recovery at the home of my sister and brother-in-law. My sister and I have always been each other's best friend. To this day, she is the only person with whom I have felt comfortable talking about my experience, but it was almost one year before I mentioned my trip to the other side of life. I carry it with me everyday, along with the following words that were printed on my church bulletin every Sunday morning when I was growing up: "Enter through me, He saith, for I am the door."