My heart attack happened three days before my birthday. I was to fly out to a contract site at 4:30 pm. I had driven my son’s car back to his apartment after repairing it that morning. At his apartment, I met my wife, son, daughter, stepdaughter and my ex-wife. We piled into our van to get ice cream for my birthday before my daughter and ex-wife drove back home. I left for the airport. All six of us were in the van just a few minutes and my wife was driving. My chest went tight and I told my wife that I wasn’t right, something wasn’t right. I then passed out. If the heart attack had happened ten minutes earlier, I would have been driving I-64 alone or one hour later and I would have been in flight. I had a few short flashes of lucidity between the heart attack and the emergency room. I heard the emergency medical technicians who couldn’t figure out my watch clasp; the nurse starting to cut off my shirt in the emergency room; the anesthetist arguing with the cardiologist, wanting to give me more of something. I felt a white-hot pain in my chest that made me curl into a ball and say maybe out loud, ‘That’s all I got…’ I felt a brief regret about not having spent enough time with my daughter. I was aware that I was in an emergency room, and so the flat line alarm that just went off must have been mine.
I noticed that I wasn’t breathing, that I didn’t feel a need to breathe, and very slowly getting very worried about that. Then I was standing in a quiet, dark, and calm cavern on a black marble slab maybe 6 feet wide that runs slightly up and straight ahead of me into a void. The left edge of the marble floor dropped off sharply into nothing; it seems like a void all behind me. I never looked behind me, but there’s no sense that anything is back there. From the right edge of the marble slab rises a wall of frosted glass, lit from inside, about 18 feet tall by 30 feet long. It starts even with my right side, turns to black marble after thirty feet, and continues into the distance. So it’s hanging just the floor and the right wall of a very tall hallway in a black void, but the first wall section is backlit frosted-glass.
Two silhouettes are cast on the window and my attention turns toward them. The shape that was closer to me is a young boy, maybe 8 years old or so. He was running toward me with his arms wide open and his hair bouncing, laughing because he can’t believe I’m here already. I’m instantly overwhelmed with joy, in an, ‘Oh my God! I never thought I’d ever see you again!’ kind of feeling. But I don’t move: I just look. I know I’m here to just look. Farther along the window, there’s a grown male silhouette, probably about my height and build but with better posture. He reaches out to the boy and tells him that I’m not coming with them yet. His presence comforts the boy. As I look at the man, I can see that the light source behind the window is just beyond him, at about the height of his head.
Then I’m awake. I next remember the face of our minister standing next to my gurney as I am being rolled through the hospital, probably between the operating room and the intensive care unit.