In the early summer of 1971, I and three other children were playing on a large pile of sand that was to be used in pouring a cement pad at our house. We decided to burrow a tunnel into the pile, which was probably about 5 feet high and about 10 feet in diameter at the base.
After we dug the tunnel, I was the first to crawl through it. I had not crawled very far when the pile collapsed upon me. The weight forced the air out of my lungs and I could not take a breath. This was the scariest and most painful thing that I have ever experienced in my life.
I could feel my legs flailing around outside of the sand, but I was unable to move the rest of my body. As unconsciousness came upon me, I became aware of a loud buzzing and loud sounds around me. I remember seeing a light as other people have described. Then I became aware of my life. I have tried to describe this event to others over the years, and the best way I have found is that the review of my life was not like watching a movie or video. But rather more like standing in front of a large picture and being able to see the picture as a whole, or being able to move in to study some detail of the picture. The difference being, that I had a complete understanding and recall of the whole picture, which was my life. I think because of this event, I retain memories of events and feelings that occurred prior to being able to talk.
After the review of my life, which I believe took only fractions of a second; I was immediately outside of my body. If my body were lying on a line with my feet pointing at six on a clock, I was now standing at four, a few feet away and a few feet above. I could see my feet thrashing. I was still aware that my body was in pain, but I no longer felt pain and I no longer felt the stress and agony of suffocating. As I came out of my body and as I stood there, it was a great relief. I felt like I had just taken off a tight rubber glove from my hand. As I stood there, there was someone behind me to my left, I never saw the person, I do not know who it was, I believe it was a male and he was someone I knew, or knew me. I felt safe and was not distressed.
My sister ran into our house to get my mother who was taking laundry out of the dryer and folding it. I could not so much see her, but I had a consciousness of her. To this day I can describe what she was wearing and doing when my sister arrived and got her help. As my sister ran for help, my brothers were trying to dig me out. One brother had dug a hole that was over my right arm. By the time my mother got there, the hole was large enough that they were pulling on my arm. Enough sand had been dislodged from on top of me that when they pulled on my arm, I was able to take a breath.
As soon as I took a breath, I was inside of my body. It felt like a great tightness was now compressing my soul. I was now aware of my body and my pain. I remember gulping air and how sweet it was and how wonderful the air felt going into my lungs. My head was pounding and I had a headache for several days after this. I lay on the ground gasping and breathing for what to me seemed a very long time. I was just breathing and trying to recover. My body ached and my lungs still burned. I was unable to stand up without help. I felt like I could not get enough air. I believe I was hyperventilating as I continued to feel like I was just on the verge of passing out.
At the time of this event, I told my parents about what I had experienced. I remember very clearly my father telling me it was just the absence of oxygen and that it was nothing more. I believed it was more than that, but no one would believe me. A few years later, Readers Digest published a story ‘Life after Life’. This was the first time I had ever heard of someone else having this experience. After my father had read it, we talked about my experience.