I am sharing a third person narrative about my mother's experience while hospitalized last year.
Although she was not clinically dead her grave condition afforded her contact with some unusual visitors and a terrifying awareness of a battle for her between malevolent and loving beings that awakened her faith.
Last winter diabetes finally claimed my mother's leg. A foot infection and severe lymphedema necessitated amputation. Pneumonia-like symptoms complicated her condition as lymph fluid settled around her lungs. I feared my mother would not survive as she struggled to breathe, her consciousness and body seeming to slip away.
I first grew very concerned when she began seeing people in her room whom nobody else perceived. She would tell me when they were present. She also told me she realized that no one else could see them so she would keep their appearances between us. She didn't want anyone to think she was crazy.
One woman in a yellow plaid jacket with curly blonde hair came by to visit regularly. This was not anyone my mother recognized but appeared as real as any other person in the room. The woman would stand by the bed or just observe the activity. We were alarmed because when my mother's aunt passed from cancer she began seeing people in her room as well.
My mother was very ill but lucid enough to recognize that the visitors were not apparent to others. As her condition worsened and she weakened she would slip in and out of consciousness. She would begin to talk about the people in the room. "They're here," she would say.
Then she began to get scared. The people coming to the room were frightening. They were, at this point, more "demon"-like energies for lack of a better description. I was on the phone with her and she was terrified that they were going to take her. While she was drowsy and not entirely coherent, she was conscious enough to confide that this was very "real" in spite of nobody else being aware of their presence.
As she described the insistent, hateful entities arguing with someone else over her fate, she was distraught. I have never heard my rational non-dramatic mother so genuinely scared. She said the other person (although this was more of an auditory or energetic experience) was telling the malevolent beings that she wasn't going with them. The loving voice fighting for her assured my mother she would be all right, that she would survive and come out stronger. But she couldn't feed the fear, she had to fight them by forcing out the fear. I hoped this was true but was terrified she wasn't going to get better. Soon after, she lost consciousness but was revived.
I kept telling everyone that she was not all right but the staff insisted she was just tired from surgery, she had worn herself down doing physical therapy. Around the time of the terrifying "battle" nobody knew about, the doctors finally realized she was in septic shock. I was certain she was not going to survive. They also acknowledged that, although their tests didn't prove pneumonia, a massive amount of fluid was filling her chest cavity.
After days in the ICU, barely conscious, my mother miraculously recovered. And as the loving being fighting for her promised, she did come out stronger. She seemed healthier than she had in years. I couldn't believe it.
When she returned home, we discussed the "battle" and the horrifying characters who were looming in her room. She said that when the (real) people who came to pray each day were there, it alleviated the menace. She had a strong urge to be "born again" because the prayer was so powerful. My mother grew up Catholic but had never felt such intense tangible awareness of God through prayer.
My mother is the kindest person I've ever known, so surely she'll have a first class ticket to the best afterlife. But the disturbing aspect of this for me is the thought that, perhaps, between the earthly and heavenly planes there could be these malevolent beings. It makes me think of the psalm, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
While this experience hasn't changed my mother as a person (she was pretty great already), it further encourages us that something else exists beyond this material realm. My maternal grandmother experienced a classic NDE when she was clinically dead in the 1970s. She saw her parents looking beautiful at the end of a bridge and they told her she had to go back, that it wasn't her time. I wish I had known her so I could have asked her a million questions. For now, I'll take comfort in the fact that the loving voice protected my mother somewhere in between.