I have waited 74 days to actually put my experience to paper. Those I told right after it happened told me to write it down, but I still found myself unable to do so. When I question myself on why I haven't written it down or shared it with more people, thoughts of doubt come to my mind: I think people won’t believe me, they will say it was the anesthesia, they will treat me differently and may even shrug it off. As real as these thoughts are, what is more real is what I experienced. All I hope to share is encouragement to anyone who reads this, in knowing that there is life after death. There is something better, bigger and more beautiful. It is something unexplainable and using human words seems so feeble. However, I will attempt to share in words, as that is all I have.

On January 7, 2020 I went in for a minimal mitral valve heart repair. Minutes after the surgeon had closed my side up from a seemingly successful repair, something started to go terribly wrong. My heart began to “scream,” the doctor explained. I was told my heart started to perform every arrhythmia a heart could all at once. While my surgeon was out talking with my husband and asking him if he could open my chest up to fix my heart, they say my heart attempted two major heart attacks. However, because they could put me back on bypass and the ventilator, they were able to help my heart to some degree. After my husband gave permission to open me up to save my life, the surgeon and our family had a prayer then my second open-heart was underway.

Walking away, my surgeon looked back at my husband and said he felt like the luckiest man alive! When my surgeon opened up my chest completely they found that the “ring” used to repair my mitral valve had slipped and folded on to one of the arteries below, damaging it to the point I was in need of a bypass to get blood to my heart. The “ring” was secured and the bypass was successful. What should have been a 3-5 hour surgery turned into two open heart surgeries lasting 10 hours.

What I am about to share happened within the time I left pre-op to the time in post-op when I recall hearing my family say they loved me while squeezing my right hand, all while I was still being vented with the breathing tube. The experience I'm gonna share is the first thing I thought of when I came to and couldn’t stop thinking of it until I told as many as I could. To this day I think about it at least one time every day. Call it a near death experience, call it what you want, I call it being almost home. Again, this is so difficult to put into words that I will have to compare it to things I know here on earth.

I do not remember being somewhere before being in the void space and the long distance in front of me. I just know I was there; how I got there didn’t matter at that moment and I never questioned it. I couldn’t see my body but knew my being was there. At first, I was in the void space. It was “like” darkness, but not like darkness here on earth. In the darkness here on earth we tend to be scared of something jumping out at us that we cannot see or bumping into something and hurting ourselves. The void space I found myself in was not darkness or light, more like a gray space. Soft, peaceful, silent, full, calm, clean. I didn’t see light at first, but knew it was there. I just looked around and noticed the space was vast without end. I don’t know how long I stayed in the void space because I had no sense of time, just of being present in that moment.

Then I noticed a light surrounding me and it filled up all of this space. I remember looking to my left and longing to look closer into this light. I remember thinking that this light had no end, but I searched through it, desiring more and more of it. I could see through it and wanted to reach my hand through it, but realized there was no need to because I knew what it felt like without touching it. It had no weight even though I could see it. It was not 3-dimensional like we know things here. Is there a 4th or 5th dimension? Then that was it. Although I could see the light surrounding me, it was as though I was also a part of this light and not separated from it. Touch was different; there was no need for it. I could touch something without physically touching it, as if I was doing it with my mind. I knew what it was and could feel it without touching it. The only one of the five senses I remember using was sight. At this moment there were no smells, no sounds, no taste, no touch. Sight was all I used, and I could see better than I ever could in my life. The best way to describe this light around me was it was a soft, bright, greyish-white light with translucent sparkles. The “sparkles” were captivating and drew me in closer. I just knew I was a part of this space, not separate from it. Have you ever come up on a fog and had it surround you? It was similar to that feeling in color but with no weight. Even fog has weight and movement. The “fog” which surrounded me was weightless, light, and had no movement. It overcame the void space and consumed it completely. It didn’t fill it but overcame it. This light around me became more and more glorious the deeper I longed to look at it and through it.

I was in a motionless floating state, but without gravity. I didn’t bob up and down as in water but was as weightless, light and motionless, just as the beautiful light that surrounded me. Kind of like being under water, but even then, there is still a feeling of gravity or weight and movement. I felt none of these. I wasn’t aimlessly floating either; I had a purpose in the space I was in. I had no desire to move or leave, only to soak in the light. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to on my own. I was instantly curious about the space I was in and why everything was so still, quiet, and peaceful, including myself.

As quickly as I soaked up the space around me, I was suddenly pulled forward at a great speed, similar to a roller coaster taking off from a dead stop. I didn’t jerk forward like my body would on a coaster, but my whole being, including my thoughts, moved at the same time, speed, and with the same purpose. I felt like I was moving in slow motion but knew it was at a great speed. I looked around and noticed the light all around me and the space in front of me at the end of the tunnel. The dark circle at the end of the tunnel now in front of me didn’t scare me. I didn’t try to fight moving forward. I only felt peace, confirmation and being whole.

At this point I didn’t know what the light was or could be. I just knew it was secure, safe, and peaceful. Now I know it was God Himself. I was not scared, as that was not a known option. I became overwhelmed with a sense of awe, gratitude, and thankfulness to God for my life. Although I could not speak, words came out in thoughts. Here were my thoughts to God as I spoke to Him: “Thank You God for my life, my family, my friends!” I remember seeing some images of my family and friends but this is choppy in my memory. Seeing events in my life cut in and out like a video with poor internet service. Recalling these or seeing them didn’t make me sad or happy; it’s as though they were part of a different chapter and part of me. I didn’t want to change any of it, it just was.

I then had another overwhelming feeling that my attempt to thank God for everything wasn’t adequate to express how grateful I was for all He had given me and done for me. I found myself starting to try and list out every little thing God had given and done for me down to the colors of the trees, blue waters, even our dog, Sugarbear. As soon as I started to feebly try and begin listing, I turned to the direction of the right side of my being to the voice of whom I believe to be God saying to me (through a thought), “There is no need to list. I know, Charity.” My response was, “Your will be done, Lord.” At that very moment, even before I was done with the phrase, I immediately felt myself being pushed or pulled backwards and it ended quickly, like in a blink. I even sped up the phrase to get it out before I completely left. I just knew I was leaving His presence and it would be quick. The feeling as I left was one I can only describe as “I am not done praising you, Lord!”

Others who have had similar experiences say they saw Jesus in body or a green field where others were. I never saw any of this. I do know it was God Who spoke to me and was in the light, part of the light and was the light. His voice was like a surround sound speaker, but spoken by thought. It was not big or harsh, but calming and almost with a chuckle. It was kind and reassuring. What amazes me now is that I was not shocked to hear it. It was as if I had already been communicating with Him and His words were as confronting as the light and complexing as the sparkles.

The next thing I remember was not being able to move, everything was black and I could hear my family say they loved me while squeezing my right hand as I laid in my hospital bed, still on the vent. The next morning as I completely awoke the scripture from Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name,” rang truer to me, more than ever before. To thank Him and praise Him is all I wanted to do and never stop while with Him there and I never once thought of where I had come from or what was at the end of where I was headed. I find it interesting that I never thought of returning to my family I had left or my life on earth. It just wasn’t even a part of my thoughts. Almost like it wasn’t even a part of me there. I was just present where I was and didn’t want or need anything more. I wanted to soak up where I was. The more I was there, the more I wanted the light of God’s presence. I believe this is the glory of God the Bible speaks of.

I ask myself often what God wants me to do with this experience. Was it just for me or for me to share? If it brings Him glory, then I will share. If it brings you closer to your Creator, then I will share. This is why I am sharing this. My prayer is that experiences like mine and those of others bring a sense of praise to God. A sense of wanting and longing for more of Him. A sense of thanksgiving for what He has done, does, and will do for His Creation in man!

I am a calmer person now. I seek to be in nature ALL the time. I have changed my eating habits to plant based, and not animal. It hurts me to think of eating an animal. Before I loved meat. I meditate to try and get the feeling I had back. Everything on earth seems dull. I want to go back so badly and have that peace.