I was driving my new car that I had received for high-school graduation. I was only 16 years old, graduated high school in 3 years with almost a year of college completed and a full academic scholarship to university.

Anyway, I picked up my two soccer buddies to go hiking at a mountain pass called Hatcher's Pass. Solstice is highly celebrated in Alaska, as it is the longest day of the year and the sun does not go down, therefore many folks are jogging at 2AM or kayaking at midnight.

My friends and I played on the glacial rocks, and hiked around. We were getting tired, so we decided to head home.  On this trip, we weren't drinking or doing drugs (as teenagers so often do) so I was not impaired.

Driving down the mountain, we stopped briefly to use the outhouses and we got back in the car. I was driving. This is the last thing I remember. I sustained frontal lobe brain damage and posterior brain damage so I have no recollection of what happened except for the near-death experience.

Before I tell you about the experience, let me note that we got into a very bad single vehicle car accident. According to the individuals in the car, I possibly fell asleep at the wheel. There are no shoulders on these Alaskan roads. It is believed that I drifted to the edge, woke up, and overcorrected the car. The car flipped end over end and landed with my head going through the windshield into a tree. It is said that the first EMTs who showed up at the scene just covered me up so no one had to look at my shattered skull. They obviously could not get vitals, but I do not know whether I was clinically dead or not. At some point, a medical professional brought me back but no one seems to know the details.

I had sustained between level three and level four Le Fort fractures, which is to say that I shattered every bone in my face to dust (save my chin). Over 100 titanium plates, screws, and mesh were used to put my face back together, as well as cranial bone grafts, cartilage grafts, and much more.  I was hamburger meat.

I think it was while in the hospital when I first tried to remember what happened that fateful night.  And, as you read above, all that I could remember was our last bathroom break about 15 minutes before the car accident.  Yet, there was one memory that I did not understand, but it was so profound that the more I thought of it, the more obsessed I became with it. 

As I said, I don't remember the crash, just darkness. It was not a malevolent darkness. I was a 16 year old child who was not descending into any pit. I did not feel any evil. A possible explanation for this might be that I was blinded during the accident. They told my parents that I would be blind for the rest of my life and to make arrangements. Yet, somehow I can still see.  I think my blindness, possibly, did not allow me to see "the tunnel of light" or to look upon my dying self. I have always felt alone in my NDE, as every other individual with an NDE story that I know of has seen a tunnel, hovered over their body, met dead relatives, etc.  My experience was wildly different.

I have never written my NDE, and I have only described it to 13 people in my life. First, I feel as if there are no words in our limited vocabulary to describe what I experienced. Second, whenever I describe my experience, weird things happens. Either something weird happens to me or to the individual that I'm telling. This may sound delusional or self-aggrandizing, but I swear that it is true. What's especially bizarre, I always know who needs to hear it and when.  Of the people I have told, more than half were complete strangers.

So, the darkness enveloped me. I felt as if I was transcending time and space. Imagine what it would feel like to spiral through the galaxy as an entity that is not bound to any gravitational pull or specific trajectory. That is what the journey through the dark felt like. What I know to be true is that the direction I was heading had no bearing. It seemed to be everywhere. It was like rain. I was like rain. If drops of rain were souls and heaven was the giant puddle that catches and pools all souls, then I was a drop of rain water that was following my path toward the puddle. I knew I belonged to the puddle. 

Aside from this really bad analogy, I cannot think of any better way of describing it. Like a magnet, this collective was drawing me to it. There was no human emotion attached to it. I did not fear. I did not doubt. I did not question. The only human emotion I could feel was pure, unrelenting, unconditional love. Take the unconditional love a mother has for a child and amplify it a thousand fold, then multiply exponentially. The result of your equation would be as a grain of sand is to all the beaches in the world.  So, too, is the comparison between the love we experience on earth to what I felt during my experience. This love is so strong, that words like "love" make the description seem obscene.  It was the most powerful and compelling feeling. But, it was so much more. I felt the presence of angels.  I felt the presence of joyous souls, and they described to me a hundred lifetimes worth of knowledge about our divinity. Simultaneous to the deliverance of this knowledge, I knew I was in the presence of God. I never wanted to leave, never.

The next realization was a voice here and there. The noises of the ICU, nurses, doctors, people crying when they came near me. My eyes were sewn shut, mouth wired shut, breathing through my neck, hair shaved off, and face crushed. This happened 17 years ago, and I have not found anyone with my injuries that has survived. Is my personal near death experience unique? I would like to think that it is not.