Jeanne Z.

The year I turned twenty-five, I gave birth to my daughter on December 30, 1969. The following week, I completely hemorrhaged out and had a near-death experience. This phrase was not even in existence at the time of my experience. Raymond Moody would write the first book on the subject ‘Life after Death’ in 1975 and coin the term, ‘Near Death Experience.’

I stayed silent about my experience for more than a decade. Back then, the majority of us who have had these experiences stayed quiet about it. We were afraid of labels like ‘insanity’ and ‘devil possession’ from the outside world. When I began to talk about the experience, I realized that we mere humans didn’t really have the vocabulary to describe it. How do you bring a language back from another plane of existence where words don’t exist to describe it here on earth?

When I left my physical body, I and hovered above it watching the doctors frantically work to cut open collapsed veins and fill them with plasma. I didn’t see through my physical eyes. I observed a woman die across the hallway and saw her non-material soul sail upwards and out of sight. I was able to hear everything without physical ears. The medical team was talking about how ‘gone I was.’ I heard my husband’s conversation with his best friend down the hallway. I heard his true, unspoken thoughts and fears within his mind. I had an absolute ‘knowing’ without a physical brain to reason with.

I would say it was blissfully peaceful and serene but those are emotions. There was no emotion to any of this in the way we understand emotion.

There came a time when I had to make a choice to go on or return to my body. I knew without doubt that I had to return to raise my children. I knew my husband would resent my daughter if I left. In an instant, I was back in my pain-wracked body on my way into surgery with my eighth unit of blood dripping into me.

How much time had passed? Did time exist in that other dimension? Did I see a long, white tunnel enticing me to enter it, a luminous savior or dead relatives waiting for me? No. I was only on that brink of deciding and understanding that it was not yet my time. I don’t believe that I have ever been more fully present, accepting and serene in my entire life.

Later that week, as I recovered, I cried a million tears. Those around me thought I was experiencing the memory of suffering and fear. But it wasn’t. It was the total absence of fear with a new understanding of our continuation after death. It was a gratitude for a life that was entirely different since that experience. It seems like a paradox to no longer fear death and yet love every moment of life. But truly, they go together. It’s only in the knowledge of our finite time here without fear that we can completely engage in our world with true happiness and purpose. I feel blessed.

Postscript: The above gives me a personal understanding and meaning to the phrase in Genesis.

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