At the time of my experience, I was a 31-year-old married mother of four. We were a healthy, active family, just returning home from vacation. A new school year was about to begin.

My experience did not summon carts or paddles. It was a seamless event. My infection began with a sore throat and high fever, followed by doctor visits and then admission into the hospital.

I became progressively weaker, having difficulty speaking and no appetite. Finally, I asked the nurse one day, “I need to speak to someone; I don’t think that I am getting out of here.” She replied, “We don’t want to hear that kind of talk around here,” and out she went. Geez, I thought to myself, “If I ever get out of this bed, I’ll listen.”

The doctor was coming in two times a day. But one morning, it was different. I had this incredible and overwhelming sadness. I could only move my head at this point. He stayed, and he asked me to focus on his words. He was telling a story, and at first, I was focused; but it was taking too much energy to listen. I could hear his voice, but then the words weren’t clear. I relaxed, and all of a sudden, I was on the ceiling. It was smooth and so quick. Now I could hear his words clearly and understand what his story was about.

Now I’m looking down at the woman lying in the bed, and I think, “Oh, I used to have a nightgown just like that one.” Staying there and just observing. I could see a bald spot on the back of the doctor’s head. He was crying, leaning on the bed rail. Then I figured it out, “If I’m up here, and she is down there; this can’t be good.” I realize at this same time that my sadness is gone, and my sense of humor is back. I wanted to tell him that it was okay, but I am already going fast down the hallway and end up at the nurse’s station.

The nurses were kidding around and one yelled out, “OK, today is Chinese food, you know what to do, put your money in and write down what you want. Pronto!” She was waving an envelope over her head.

Next, I found myself inside a phone booth that was built into the hallway wall. My husband was on the phone with my best friend. He was telling her what was happening. When she would respond, I would be in her office in North Carolina. When he would speak, I would be back in the phone booth. This went on for a while, and I was able to notice changes that my friend had made in her office decor.

Next, I was in a large theatre, with a stage and velvet curtains on both sides. No one else was there. I was sitting in the middle of the row. I didn’t know how I got there or why. I waited, and then one of my earliest childhood friends came out onto the stage.  She looked at me, and she let me know that she loved the games that we played and all the laughs that we had. Then it was my turn to tell her how I always had so much fun, but that I was sad when they moved away. We stayed there until we had exchanged love and admiration for each other. This segment was a much slower pace.

A young boy from my block came out. I thanked him for teaching me how to tie my laces, and he let me know that he loved the running races we had. I was enjoying every aspect of this. I never knew who was coming out next. But each time it ended in giving, and getting, love.

Later, an older boy comes out. He was the bus monitor. He conveyed to me that I had caused him humiliation. I listened to him. He used to bully my brother. So, one day I took his book bag and put it by the side of the house where the bus stop was. All the kids were playing. When the bus pulled up, the kids lined up and got on the bus. When it was his turn, he could not find his bag. He tells the kids, “Not funny.” They squeeze the window locks, and pull their windows down. I whispered to the others where his bag is and they tell him. Soon he is walking toward the bus and the kids are teasing him.

I had to go into his body and look at the kids hanging out the windows and feel the humiliation as he did. He had to go into mine, and understand my experience. I had to send him love, and I told him that I was deeply sorry. He sent me loving kindness. When this exchange was over, we both felt understood and loved. I can’t explain the depth of the healing. There were many more exchanges.

All of a sudden, I was in a tunnel, moving fast towards a bright light, and I say to myself, “Oh, I’m going home today.” I get to the light and there is a definitive edge, and it’s clear that this is where I am stopping. There were no faces, no figures, only tiny light beams moving slightly, making up this bigger light.

They let me know that my ancestors were here to welcome me today, but that my grandmother had intervened. I immediately think, “Oh, my grandma...,” and instantly they say, “No, not that one. You never met this one.”  At that moment, I get that they know everything. “You are only here for a little while; you can’t stay. You contracted in to help others and the children, and get your PhD.”
“Whoa, you must have me mixed up with someone else. School was a struggle for me,” I replied. Then I hear back, “That was then.”
I knew then that they had all the answers. I wanted to have questions. I’m thinking, just my luck, I get to a situation like this and the only question I have is, “Why can’t I stay? Do you remember that my body isn’t working anymore?” 

I know that I was there for a while, but I can only remember that they spoke about race, religion, and countries as a way of keeping people separate. They showed me a large room filled with people lying on tables, with large cylinders hanging above them. “There won’t be any surgery; light and vibration will heal their organs.”

Suddenly, I knew it was my time to go. “How do I get back?” I asked. They tell me, “Just go left…,” and I think, “How is that going to happen, since I always make an “L” for left?”  And I hear, “There aren’t any mistakes.”

With that, I am now in the kitchen in my home. The twins are in their highchairs and my older son is sitting at the table. My mom is there with them. I get the message that this is the place that I need to be, and with that thought, I am back in the hospital bed.

I could not move any part of me, but I could hear. I was trying to open my eyelids, or wiggle my toes…nothing. Soon after, I hear a woman’s voice say, “Why are you so sad?”  And the response was from my doctor. He replied with, “We lost the young mom today.” All of a sudden, I feel an ice-cold hand on my neck, “I don’t know what you are talking about; I have a pulse!”

I began my healing. I was in the hospital about a month. Before I left, I asked one of the nurses, “Do you ever order Chinese food?” “Every payday, honey,” she tells me. I gave her the date and asked her if she could check it out. “If it’s important to you.” She came back later and confirmed that, “Yes,” it was payday that day.

Months later, I went to a wallpaper store and went through the books and found the matching wallpaper to my friend’s office. I asked the woman for a sample. “It’s your lucky day. Take the whole page; we are getting our new books in soon.” I put it in an envelope and took it with me on my next visit. It was a perfect match.

I got the courage and called the doctor’s office, asking for a consult. I told him that strange things had happened to me that day that I can’t explain. He told me that he was not surprised. “You were gone,” he began. “I’ve been doing this for many years. I had two other patients with what you had, an 11-year-old boy, and a young woman. Both of them passed.”

I never told anyone.

About three years later, I was getting dinner ready and I put on Oprah. “You are going to love the show today folks. We have a young man who went skydiving, and he is here today to tell us what happened. He will explain to us what they are calling a “Near-Death Experience.”

The validation was just as important as the experience itself.  It was the rocket fuel that I needed to begin making changes in my life.