This shared death experience happened near the end of January 1997.
The week started Monday morning with a breakfast celebration for my mom’s 77th birthday at a local hotel restaurant. There were eight of us at the table; us four siblings with two spouses and my mom and dad. I’m the oldest of the “kids,” still single and at that time 48. I was, and still am, looked upon as an outsider. Sometimes I wonder how I ended up in this family--was I a changeling? During breakfast, I was able to sit opposite my dad and we actually had a nice conversation. It was mainly about how great the food was. My dad loved to eat and the portions were generous and tasty. After the meal we said our goodbyes in the parking lot and went our separate ways.
Monday night (early Tuesday morning) I had a horrific nightmare just before waking up. My dad and I were traveling together through the tunnel that’s often described in near death experiences. It was so chaotic. First of all the tunnel wasn’t large enough to accommodate both of us and we were bumping into its sides. And on top of that my father was trying to stop his movement forward by grasping onto the sides of the tunnel with his hands and feet. My dad was so afraid. And I was being taken along for the ride. I had no control over anything. I was an observer. I woke suddenly on Tuesday morning from this dream. It was about 4 am. I thought for sure my dad was sick or had passed away during the night. I immediately showered and got dressed and waited for a call which did not come. The call didn’t come until Friday morning around 9 am while I was at work.
My sister was calling me, letting me know that my dad was in the emergency room with what looked like a gallbladder attack. He was in a lot of pain and they were running tests but his condition didn’t appear to be cardiac related. I got permission to leave work and went to be with the family in the emergency room. I knew, based on the nightmare, how my dad’s trip to the emergency room was going to end. I didn’t tell anyone.
In the emergency room my dad was in some pain but the medical staff was giving him more meds to help. The doctor came in and talked to my mom. He told her they would be admitting my dad and would be removing his gall bladder the next day. However, some of the tests were coming back with some findings that didn’t make sense so they were going to keep my dad under close observation. I remember watching my dad being wheeled away to his hospital room and I saw the fear on his face. He looked like a little boy.
The next morning, Saturday morning, my dad was admitted to ICU with a “whopping” case of pancreatitis. No gall bladder surgery could take place until the pancreatitis was under control. Sunday morning my dad was intubated because he needed respiratory support, and they believed his pancreas was spilling out digestive juices directly into his systems. They couldn’t keep his blood pressure up. He was pumped full of fluids and he ballooned up to twice his size. We had no verbal communication with him after this point.
During that week I would go to work at 4 am and work for four hours, then go to the hospital to be with my dad during the morning and early afternoon when no one else would be there. I didn’t want him to face the tunnel alone. The rest of the family would visit after their work hours.
My dad’s organs began failing and when they put him on dialysis because his kidneys were gone, we believed it was time to consider removing medical treatment. So it was decided that Thursday at 5:30 pm all of the medicines dad was receiving would be stopped. He would continue on the ventilator but there would be no more blood pressure support. So my mom, my two brothers and their wives, my sister and myself gathered in my dad’s room along with a priest and medical staff. We prayed and we said our goodbyes. It’s hard to imagine that so much grief could be contained in one hospital room.
It took about 15 minutes for my dad’s heart to cease after the medicines were stopped. I looked at the clock on the wall and it amazingly continued to tick to the next second. There was no acknowledgement on this earth that someone as wonderful as my dad had left the planet. Life went on as usual. We all began to file out of the room one by one.
I was at the end of the line when all of a sudden I hear this loud shouting voice, “WHERE ARE YOU ALL GOING? I’M STILL HERE!” And apparently I am the only one that hears this shouting. I knew it was my dad’s voice and I could sense the fear and anxiety in it. I turned around and went to his bedside. I wanted my dad to know that he was not alone, that he was loved, and that he was going to love. I kissed his forehead which was still warm. I knew my dad was hovering above in the corner of the ceiling so I looked up and smiled. I didn’t see him but I knew he was there. In my mind I told him to go to the light--to embrace the light. I hesitated for a moment and then turned around and left. There was no more shouting and no more fear. I knew my dad had left to be with God.
The fear experienced in the nightmare was dissolved by love and was not repeated!