It was 1969. I was 32 years old, married and the mother of five children, the youngest being 5 and the oldest 14. All the children had had the flu several weeks prior, and while I always caught everything from them, this time I thought I was going to be lucky. I seemed to be beyond the incubation period. I had worked very hard that day cleaning the house, and when I went to pick up my husband from work, I suddenly noticed an unusually extreme tiredness. He dropped me off at home and went to get a hair cut. I had planned to take the children swimming that evening at an indoor pool and was going to show them how to dive, however, with the way I suddenly felt, I decided I better lay down or I would never have the stamina for our swimming excursion.

I lay down on the sofa in the living room thinking a little rest would take care of me just fine. Four hours later I had the most incredible experience in my life. Shortly after laying down, I began to not feel good. It started with waves of nausea, and I figured I had not escaped the flu bug after all. The nausea was terrible but was followed in a short time by hard piercing knife-like pains in my stomach. Next came a migraine-like headache which I never had before or since in my lifetime. Then teeth chattering, spine wrenching, body shaking chills such as I had never experienced before or since. All of this occurred in continuous waves and got progressively stronger and more ferocious as time passed. Swimming, of course, was now out of the question. So was dinner!

My husband fixed dinner for the children when he came home from his hair cut, and instructed the children to be quiet and go to their rooms or outside to play for awhile. He sat down and watched TV and kept me company in the living room listening to my moans and groans. I wanted desperately to get in a hot bath to stop the chills but somehow I sensed or knew that I could not walk. I was too embarrassed to crawl or to ask to be carried. I had never felt so helpless. I now knew that I was sicker than I had ever been in my life; but still it was just the flu.

At some point I got into really serious trouble. It felt like the blood was stopping coursing through my veins. I could actually feel my veins. It started at the outer extremities, tips of fingers and toes, and began to move up my arms and legs in towards the trunk of my body. My brain was very alert. I realized that when it got to my lungs and heart, I would be dead. I also felt paralyzed. About this time, my husband looked over at me and said, "Oh my God, I'm calling the paramedics." My mind screamed NO but I could not utter a sound. I wanted him to stay with me and hold me as I passed away. I wanted this so desperately but I could not communicate. I heard him in the kitchen calling the Rescue Squad. Back on the sofa my mind was screaming and blaspheming heaven and God for taking me as I had to stay and raise my children. The strength of this fight to stay was equivalent to me of the power it took for someone to raise a truck if their child was underneath. It was superhuman strength, but I could not endure. Finally, I had to concede. After begging for my life, I made a pact that if I could just raise my children I would gladly go anytime after they were raised and trade places with someone else who was still so desperately needed here. Alas, there was no relenting. The Rescue Squad was still several blocks away from my vantage point above, rounding the corner of Hawley and Bluemound 5 blocks away; neighbors had heard and were rushing over to take the children. One neighbor came in and said, "Oh my God, she's blue."

At this point, I moved through the dark void of the black tunnel which I found very frightening because I didn't know where I was going, but then saw a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. I "knew" it was heaven. When I arrived in the light, which was of a beauty that words cannot describe, I was enveloped in love. The love too was beyond what one could ever experience while on earth. I was not aware of any beings per se but "knew" I was in the presence of God. That is just what it was; being in the presence of; a "knowing" sense; not a visual being. I had a very quick life review and "curiously" realized that the children I fought so ferociously to be with to raise now seemed as insignificant as childhood toys. Everything took on a different perspective in that other realm. I was given the knowledge of the universe which filled me with wonder and amazement. (This knowledge is not kept when you return to the earthly realm.) Suddenly I was back on earth struggling to get air from the third oxygen tank that they had tried on me. The first two did not work. I was then put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. At the hospital they kept asking me what happened. I was so confused, and I certainly could not tell them what really happened for fear I would end up in the psychiatric ward if they had one. I was still in shock from the whole experience and could not place it in perspective. I also felt they, the staff, were trained professionals and they should be able to figure out what was wrong as I certainly could not.

I stayed in the hospital for two weeks. Severe flu with loss of fluids followed my admission, and I was on intravenous for days. They said my potassium level was as low as they had ever seen which was the very slow dripping yellow bag of intravenous that I received and also went home from the hospital with but in tablet form.

1969 was before research and publication of "near death experiences." Obviously I could not tell anyone what had really happened or even discuss it for many years. When the first books came out, I still did not feel comfortable enough to even want to read them. It was in 1973 that I first told a dear, close friend what had happened. My children and family did not even know.

Over time, I actually forgot that I had never told my children or family. I became painfully aware of this when my daughter, Colleen, informed me over the phone that she did not believe in God. I went into horrified shock. At first she refused to discuss it with me; her mind was made up. She refused to even let me explain. Finally, I had to tell her to "shut up;" something I never really say to anyone, including my children. This so shocked her she listened for a second, and I quickly blurted out, "You have to believe in God. I was there; I was in the presence." At this point, she began to listen, and I realized that because the children had been present during the episode, I thought they knew. This, of course, was ridiculous because we had never discussed it because I couldn't. The children were raised Catholic and went to Catholic grade schools for a time, and I just assumed they all believed in God. I told Colleen all about what had happened, and it has had a dramatic influence on her and her family's lives. I am so proud and pleased with all of them. At this point in time, I have further work and obligation to discuss this with the rest of the family which I have done to some degree. I know more needs to be done.

Looking back over the years, the experience has helped me tremendously. I usually feel a wonderful inner peace almost all the time, and lack a fear of death. Our brain or our consciousness is our soul which is what goes on forever and expands in the other realm. It is our eternal essence and is only housed very temporarily in our bodies. From the perspective of this other realm our bodies become completely insignificant. Their significance is only of the earthly realm. While I enjoy life and feel life gets better with each passing year, I feel a longing to go home and not infrequently am jealous of those who pass on. I have compassion for loved ones who are left behind but find it very hard to grieve for anyone who has died. In honesty, its impossible for me to feel grief for the one who has passed. My faith is rock solid, and I find at times I have a certain "knowing" about things that I cannot explain. I believe in miracles and angels or spirit guides and pray frequently everyday and throughout the day; it is ingrained and a complete part of my life. My prayers consist of talking and listening and giving thanks for all my blessings of which I believe I have many. Church, when I can attend, is a treat. I do not see it as a necessity.

I started a support group for "near death experiencers". I am a member of IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies). This has been a little disconcerting as at the time I was asked to do this, I was led to believe there was a great need. I finally felt comfortable in leading this group because I read there were now millions of people who had had this experience, and I was anxious to talk to them. The truth is that as of October 1, 1997, the date I am writing this, it is difficult finding these people. I have always wondered why this experience happened to me, and what should I do with it. I am thinking of doing hospice work, after I retire, as a way of trying to make this experience I was blessed to have meaningful and/or helpful to others.