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My Childhood NDE Became My Gift

In the two weeks before I had my NDE, I had had two traumatic injuries to my left foot: first, it was caught in a slammed car door, and later it was crushed in a merry-go-round. As a result, I developed osteomyelitis, and my foot swelled up to the size of a football. I was rushed to the ER. My mother, a nurse, told the doctors that I was allergic to penicillin, but somehow I got a massive dose anyway. I went into anaphylactic shock and clinically died.

As I was very sick and feverish when I was brought to the hospital, I was barely conscious of my surroundings. But suddenly, I felt myself rising up into the corner of the green room where I could see my mother and the doctor leaning over me. Everything in the room was crystal clear and more vibrantly colored and detailed than usual; I can remember all the details even now as if it were watching a movie.The doctor was telling my mother that he didn't think I could be revived, and my mother was crying.

In retrospect, my emotions seemed much more adult and mature than that of a young child. I felt great love and compassion for my mother. I wanted to tell her that it was all right to be dead, but simultaneously understood that I could not communicate with her. I felt great sadness for her, but none for myself.

The next thing I knew, I was awake in a different room after having been revived, looking up at my bandaged foot. Before this incident, my memories had been episodic; after, my continuous memories of childhood began.

The experience was quite profound and left me feeling that I needed to spend my time on earth wisely on things that mattered. I wound up studying very hard, attended some of the world's best universities and had a satisfying career.

But throughout my youth, I felt I could tell no one about the out-of-body experience, even though it was the most "real" experience I had ever had in my life--or have had since. (I can't prove it, but I am convinced it really happened and wasn't the result of altered brain chemistry.) I never even told my mother.

In the mid-'70s, when I was just out of college, I was in Charlottesville, Va., and Raymond Moody gave a talk about his then-upcoming book, "Life After Life." He asked if anyone had had a NDE as a child. I went up after his talk and told him about mine. It was a great relief finally to tell my "secret" to someone who would take it seriously!

The most lasting effect of the experience is that I no longer fear death, though I do not seek it. I also think I became a more compassionate and understanding person because of it. I now think of the experience as a gift.

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