3. Afterward … Looking Back
I have relived this “event” almost daily since I died and returned to Earth after my friends pulled by body from the bottom of the lake and brought me to the sandy beach. The first twenty years I relived it in fear. I thought that I was the only one in the world who had ever this experienced this “event”. I had no knowledge of what this experience was or what it meant. I had no one to turn to … no one to share my unexplainable fear! It was a very frightful time for me.
But then, twenty years later, after reading Dr. Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life, I came to accept that my experience really did happen to me – exactly as I remember it – and it was called a “Near Death Experience” (NDE). And now that the “fear” is gone, the remembering is a continuous source of joy for me, and for many people that I have shared my experience with.
I have identified a number of distinct remembrances and experiences from my journey that stand out on their own merit; and if taken as a collective whole, they paint a beautiful mosaic of my drowning, my death, and my return.
- A continuous stream of consciousness ... I never lost consciousness, from the moment I “let go” (stuck in the mud at the bottom of the lake) until I found myself coughing water out of my lungs on the beach. I’ve been “unconscious” a number of times since my NDE and I know what it feels like to be unconscious … so I know that I was completely conscious during the entire NDE happening. I was completely aware of every incident that I experienced as well as the environment in which all of the evens took place.
- Instantaneous transitions ... all of the transitions: from complete terror to complete bliss, from the freezing cold, darkness of death to a warm, loving Light; and then back from the Light to the beach were instantaneous. Other than the sensation of movement in the tunnel all of the secondary transitions were also instantaneous. I was in the sphere … I was back in the tunnel … I was in the Light … I did not move into any of these transitions. They were instantaneous! I perceived no “time delays” of any magnitude during my “travel” into the Light and back to Earth.
- Terror to peace ... considering the absolute fear, terror and freezing cold that I was experiencing the moment before I “let go”, it is remarkable that in the very next instant I was completely at peace and “as warm as toast”. From the moment I saw the Light, the terror that I was just consumed by was completely "irrelevant"! I still remembered it, of course, but it was just that … a memory. It became clear to me that being in the Light was worth any amount of pain and terror to get there, because once you get to the Light the previous pain vanishes from importance.
- Physical body sensations ...from the moment that I was propelled into the tunnel, and during the entire NDE, all sensations that I experienced were "recognizable physical, body sensations" in my new body. I instantly felt warmth throughout my body, like walking into a warm room after being out in an ice cold, snow storm. I could feel the brightness of the light at the back of my retinas, and I was amazed that I didn’t feel any pain from a light that was a thousand times brighter than the Sun; I didn’t even have to squint! I was immediately aware of the absence of the painful ringing in my ears. It was as if someone turned off a screeching fire alarm, and it was so wonderful to have that terrible sound stop. So, during the entire NDE all of my external sensations were “felt” just as if I were still in a body like the one I left at the bottom of the lake. (Note: I had an injury to my right eye during my birth and my vision in that eye was never correctable to greater than seeing shadows. So I spent my life time as a mono-vision person. In the light I could see with both eyes and for the first time experienced vision from both eyes!)
- Life review ... this was the most amazing phenomenon that I have ever experience. I was completely surrounded by my countless lives. I could feel, taste, smell, hear, and view each experience; and relive each and every event exactly as I remembered it in “real life”. All of my life’s feelings were re-lived exactly as they originally occurred. And everywhere I looked there was another “life experience” connected to another life experience, connected to another life experience … seamlessly presented through an invisible, undetectable connection. I saw myself as a baby, a young man, a woman, an old person, and with all of the people that I met in my many life journeys. I relived the joy of past friendships and loves. I cried when I felt the pain and sorrow of terror. Everything was happening at the same time, but I could experience each event that I concentrated on in the time frame in which it occurred. It was a fantastic, wonderful, and enlightening experience and somehow, deep within me, I knew that I was in, what I now call, the “Eternal Now”.
- No judgment, guilt, blame, or shame ... since I was a Roman Catholic teenager at the time of my NDE, I had enough guilt built up in my internal belief systems for the entire universe. One of the first things that I became aware of in my life review was that there were no feelings of guilt, of judgment, of punishment, of blame, or of shame in any event that I re-experienced; or at any other time in my communication with the Light. It became apparent to me that my various life actions were not “right or wrong”, but were merely choices. They were choices that either “worked” or didn’t work for me or those connected to me. They were choices that fostered love and joy or fear and pain … but in the long run, they were all just choices.
- Being One with the light, but still being Me ... the first three things that I heard the Light say to me were:
”Andy don't be afraid”,
”Andy, I love you”, and
”Andy we love you”,
and as I heard them I was aware that I was being "absorbed" into the Light, became One with the Light. But, at the same time never lost my "Andy-ness"! WOW, that was a phenomenon that can only be truly experiences in the timeless space encompassed within the Light! The Light was surrounded by countless, smaller bright Lights. And as I gazed on them I recognized them as billions of other souls (what I now call “pieces of God”) that were there to celebrate my returning into the Light with them.
- The Light is unrecognizable, but familiar ... even though I was sensing all of the attributes of the Light for the first time, somehow I was also remembering them. They were unknown and familiar at the same time. The Light had a face that I had never saw before, but yet, somehow I recognize it … I knew it. The Light had a voice that was neither male nor female, one that I never heard before, but somehow I remembered it. The Light had a laugh and a smile that I viewed for the first time, but somehow I recalled it. Every attribute of the Light filled me with memories of love and joy!
- The Light is a funny friend ... I truly enjoyed being in the Light because the Light has a sense of humor, a sense of humor about the entire universe and all existence. I know that the Light was that “friend” that I was looking for during my short lifetime up to my NDE, because we laughed together and truly enjoyed being in each other's presence … in other words, we were true friends! The Light told me that true friends share an “unconditional love” and an “oneness” that knows no bounds.
- Being at home ... in the light everything was strange –but at the same time, it was recognizable. I began to remember the exact details of everything that came into my awareness. I was conscious of the fact that nothing that I was experiencing was totally new; all the experiences brought back memories of familiarity ... of a home coming after being away for a long, long, long time.
- Complete universal knowledge ... I had Instantaneous knowledge of everything that was, is, or ever will be; I had no questions to ask because I knew everything that the Light knew … I was aware of all of the questions and all of the answers!
- Unconditional love ... not only was the love I felt from the Light (and all the other pieces of Light) unconditional and non-judging, but it was very "personal" ... it was directed to me, to "Andy", and I immediately loved myself unconditionally too. I lost any sense of "right and wrong" ... my lives just contained events, some filled me with joy and other with sorrow, but none of them were right or wrong!
- Defiance … refusing to return ... I wasn’t afraid to tell the Light "No, I don't want to go back!" That kind of response could only be spoken in the presence of an unconditionally, loving being!
- Instantaneous return ... again, just as when I "let go" and went into the tunnel and Light, I returned to the beach instantaneously; I have no recollection of anything that happened to my body at the bottom of the lake during my experience in the tunnel, sphere, or Light. I don't remember being found, pulled from the mud, brought to the surface, carried to the beach, turned over and pushed on ... nothing … not until the Light finished say "Andy you have to go back" (for the third time) and I found myself on the beach, completely conscious of my surroundings and coughing water out of my lungs.
- Overwhelming sadness ... the sadness of being back on Earth, away from the Light was almost unbearable, even though I had no understanding of what I just experienced (it would be 20 years before I knew what really happened that wonderful day was a NDE.) I have never felt that level of sadness again.
- Always remembering ... you don't know how hard I tried to forget! A few years later I went into a seminary but left before my vows, and then enlisted in the Marine Corps. While in the Marines I had a number of "close calls with death" and my recollection of them is fuzzy. But this experience never changes, its always there, and each time I remember my heart is filled with Joy, a Joy that came from the Light and now comes from within Me, because the Light and I are ONE.
- No fear of death ... I think about this many times … death that is, and I have absolutely no fear of death. In fact, I've had many, many "close calls" with death since my NDE, and I am always ready to go. The good news is that it won't be too long now, there are just a few more things I have to experience before I return to the Light.
- Ready and happy to die again ... I chose to have a "happy death" next time. I will breathe my last breath and "let go" again, only this time I won’t return to Earth … this time I will remain to the Eternal Now – a place fills me with the joy of being ONE in the Light.