For seven days, I was on a ventilator in an intensive care unit. I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and bacterial meningitis.

My experience happened at about 2:00 a.m. I felt like I was going down a tunnel. It was dark at first and then it was very light, bright sun light. As I got to the end of the tunnel and I was bathed in warm sunlight, the sky above me became dark, with only bits of light getting through. The darkness was caused by my family, friends, and a pet...all of whom had died before me. They were hovering over me. I was standing looking up at them above me. Each person/animal moved to create a human chain to block the light from reaching me. My father's voice spoke to me. He said that I was okay, safe, and had a choice. He said that I could come to them or I could stay where I was and continue with my "earthly" life. Each time a beam or glint of light came on or near, my grandfather, grandmother, past partner, friends who had died of Aids, and dog (a beautiful Bichon) would all shift to block the bright light. The dim light was warm and welcoming, but the bright light was kept from me. I was protected from it in a gentle way. The question again was: Am I safe? And the answer was I could stay or go. My father encouraged me to stay, as I had more to do. However, if I was too tired I was welcome. I remember feeling joy, not fear and being free from pain. I also remember feeling calm and peaceful outside of the hospital and the intensive care unit. Again, I was struck by the "angles" of my life floating above me. I adjusted to block the bright, warm light that was waiting for me, if I so chose to go.

My father is the only voice that spoke to me. However, I could plainly see the smiles and the peaceful faces of the people I mentioned before. I knew all of the people making the covering web, prohibiting the full light to reach me. My father again asked me or told me that it was up to me...I was welcome, but I had a lot of things I could do and be (if I stayed). I had/have a loving partner and I have a chance to live my life in a new way, a way that was more peaceful, calm, less sorrowful and painful and more opportunities for growth, learning, love, change, and rebirth. In a way, it would be like starting over--keeping what was good and letting the rest fall away like leaves in the fall. I was still that strong oak tree, and new branches would grow. The old, dead wood would fall gently and a wonderful stream would wash the wood (pain) and leaves (change) down the stream of life and turn it into something new and valuable. Again, I remember feeling safe and hearing my father's gentle, kind, warm, and calm voice guiding me to look at myself and to make a decision about my life and future.
Shortly after this, I pulled the respirator out and woke up in intensive care. I was able to see and recognize the people around me. I had been in a coma-like state and not responding outwardly. I remember feeling strong, even though I was physically week. I remember seeing my partner, touching his hand, and feeling the love energy flow back and forth between us. I continued to get better, and I was out of intensive care within two days. I was in the hospital for an additional three days and then I was able to go home.
I had to learn to swallow, walk, drive, and organize my thoughts and behaviors. However, I had this spirit inside that was whole, pure, and warmed from the light that had sustained me. I remembered my near-death experience and often had dreams recounting the experience. This new sense of calm was just under the surface and it was deep within my soul. I remember dreaming about my birth...that I was born pure, without sin, and full of light, purity, and love. I felt my body and my mind connecting in ways that they never connected before. I was able to sense the energy pulsing through my body. I could tell when it was blocked and when it was flowing like the warm, steady, peaceful river in my near-death experience. I continued to heal, but I also had another round of bacterial meningitis. One that almost took my life. I remember telling the doctor to stop the medicines. I had enough of the medicine, and I would float on the river and see what came next. The calm continued even though was I was so sick. My soul sustained me and I recovered again. I went on to having to start HIV medications, after being a long-term non-progressor since 1986. My body continued to suffer from osteoporosis, multiple fractures, and a hip replacement. However, my spirit, content with my decision to stay, gave me the drive to seek wellness, healing, and my true self/life.
I have told my partner, my therapist, one family member, and a few friends about my experience. Since then, I have changed my beliefs about death and about birth. I continue to seek connection with mind-body-spirit, and I continue to step into the energy that feels like warm sunlit love. This is energy that I sense as a rainbow in a complete circle--half above the ground (seen) and half below the ground (unseen) that I can see in my mind's eye. It is in this place that I feel the most well and connected to what came before me and what will come in the next moment for me. I see death as a transition rather than an ending or a final stop on a journey. I see my physical body as a vessel, containing my soul, a soul that cannot be harmed by illness or death. This gives me peace of mind as I manage my ongoing medical issues: HIV, myasthenia gravis, osteoporosis, ADHD, PTSD, SAD, asthma, medication side-effects, etc. These body-based illnesses are healing not always in the traditional way or sense of healing. My mind is quieting, and my soul is filling my body more completely. This love of self and the universe is joy to behold, even on the days when I can't "feel" that calm and peace from the NDE. (Hearing my father's voice, and seeing all of those that loved me floating above and moving gently side-to-side to cover the bright light that I thought I was heading for me).
I have today. I have this moment. I have peace, love, and hope.