We lived in Toronto, Ontario, and on this summer day I went to the local swimming pool near out townhouse with my father and sister. I was three and my sister was six.
We were playing in the pool for a while when my father said we needed to get out for 15 minutes for an adult-only swim. I wasn't very happy about that because I wanted to stay in the water and didn't understand why the adults couldn't swim with us still in there. So my sister went and sat on our towels by the deep end while my dad went for a swim with other adults. I stood looking into the water near where my sister was sitting and thought about jumping in so that I'd sink straight to the bottom and when my feet touched I could push myself straight back up and pull myself out and no one would even notice. I wasn't sure if that would work or not but before I could give it more thought I jumped into the water. The second I hit the water I heard my sister start yelling for my dad, which was a good thing because things didn't go as planned. I started spinning and spinning and couldn't touch anything but water. I noticed that I was running out of air and for a second I thought, "uh oh."
Then I was on the bottom of the pool, kind of came to I guess, and I felt wonderful. I was so relieved that the spinning had stopped. I got up and kicked something off of my feet and I seemed to be able to swim now. I figured I better go up to the top and pull myself out since that was my original plan. I could see my sister standing by the side of the pool looking at something on the ground, and my dad and others were there. No one was looking at me, so I figured they must have seen that I could swim now and was ok in the water and they were busy with something else. I guessed it must be fine for me to stay in the water, so I started to swim around again. But I remembered the look on my sister's face. She looked horrified. I was curious about what they were all looking at and decided to swim back up to see.
While I was on my way up there was suddenly a swirl of colors in the water that turned into people. It seemed very odd but I started watching this and never ended up going back up to see what my sister was looking at. I knew the people looked familiar. I had seen them before in nativity scenes at Christmas, except now they were alive and life sized. It was dark around them all even though it was a sunny summer day. But not pitch-black dark, it was dark like when the lights are off in your house in the middle of the day. I focused mainly on Mary who was wearing a dark blue robe and a lighter veil, but also noticed a man, Joseph I assume, in a brown robe holding a staff. There was a manger, but I didn't notice if there was a baby in it and I don't know if there were more people or animals there. Mary and Joseph were staring straight down and I just looked at them and was totally confused about what they were doing under the water.
Then it got very bright around them all and they looked up. Mary smiled at me and she was so beautiful. What happened next all seemed to take place in one second. It's as if Mary's face moved and I could see in behind her eyes and it was a very bright light but I recognized the light and said (in my head), "Ah, it's you!" I knew her and was so happy to see her. I felt so much love and remembered that I was so important. I just wanted to go to her and started moving towards her, but then suddenly I was pulled (sucked) out of the water and was sitting on the side of the pool. I felt so disappointed. I wanted nothing more than to go to her.
I didn't know who pulled me out of the water. There was no one behind me and my dad was standing by the fence and was very angry and lecturing me, which was so out of character for him. My sister was staring at me angrily with her hands on her hips while my dad was telling me how selfish I was. Everything looked so hazy compared to the crisp bright people I had just been looking at under the water. It looked like my dad had big tears in his eyes, but I thought maybe it was just from being in the water. I felt so confused. Why was my dad mad at me for being in the water when a minute ago he didn't seem to care that I was there while he was busy with something else? When he was done scolding me he walked away. I looked at my sister who was still angry, but then her face softened and she said, "were you scared?" I looked around to make sure my dad wasn't near and I shook my head no and said, "It was fun." Then she yelled at me and said I better not ever do it again.
I got down on my knees near the pool and looked for the people in the water. I had no idea where they went. I didn't understand what had just happened. My dad came back and got upset that I was so close to the water again and said it was time to go home. While we walked home he seemed to be back to his normal fun dad self again, and I was so relieved. But when we walked in the house he went straight to my mom and said that he thought he lost me. He sounded so upset again. I really felt like he was making a much bigger deal out of it than it really was. Later my mom told me that I really upset him and I better not do anything like that again. A few days later we went to my uncle’s for dinner and my aunt started asking me questions. She showed me pictures or statues of Jesus and asked if I saw him that day, and I said no. She asked me to point at who I saw so I pointed at a nativity scene and she said, "oh, baby Jesus, you saw baby Jesus!". Then she looked at my mom and dad and said, "so she died." I didn't understand why just because she thought I saw baby Jesus meant I died. As far as I knew I was very much alive the whole time.
No one ever questioned me about that day again. Over the years I would think about specific parts of it that baffled me. What was under the water that I had to kick off my feet? I eventually told myself that it must have been a towel that fell into the water. That's the only thing that made sense. Why did my dad leave me in the water for a while then get mad at me for being there? That didn't make sense. My dad hardly ever got upset and this was the worst I had ever seen him. I didn't understand that part until years later. Why did I see people under the water and why did it feel so good? As I got older, I thought that I must have hallucinated it and maybe the lack of oxygen is what made me feel good. I didn't understand why I would hallucinate a Christmas nativity scene in the middle of summer. I decided that some of it would probably never make sense.
In 2004 my dad had surgery to remove a tumour from the side of his face. The operation was supposed to take about 3 hours but the tumour was more difficult to remove than they thought and it took hours longer. His heart stopped for a while during the surgery but they were able to get it going again. When we went to see him afterwards, he said that during the surgery he was on the ceiling watching the doctors operate and he saw his face cut open and it was so gross. Sadly, I told him that it must have been a dream because that was the only thing that made sense. Also, my dad had gone blind a few years prior to that. He passed away a month later and never came home from the hospital.
In the summer of 2021, my sister and I were talking about that day at the pool and I said that I must have been really groggy when I got pulled out of the water. She was shocked by me saying that. She said, "you weren't breathing, you needed to be resuscitated." That made no sense at all to me.
Months later, when I was 56, I stumbled across NDE's on YouTube, and it wasn't until I watched quite a few of them that I realized what actually happened that day. Why I was suddenly able to swim, if that was actually swimming. I had kicked my body off my feet, not a towel. Why, when I came to on the bottom of the pool, I never had to go up for air. When I thought I had been pulled out of the water, I was actually sucked back into my body, which is why there was no one around me. My dad did have tears in his eyes because he thought he had lost me. And no one could see me in the water because it was my spirit or consciousness that was in there having a great time while my body was being resuscitated. It took 53 years before it all made sense. Including realizing that my dad really was on the ceiling watching his own surgery. In my mind now, death is not scary, because we don't really die. It's going to be amazing.