Although my near-death experience happened nearly twenty five years ago, there is virtually not a day that goes by that I am not aware of making decisions based on that experience.
It was a time when I felt very angry, lonely, and isolated. My mother died just 4 years prior and I did not seek the help needed to process the debilitating grief I was experiencing. Over the years, self-destruction had become a recurrent theme in my life. Work was my safe place, but it was also my prison.
On this particular evening, I felt it necessary to step out of my prison and reconnect with friends and family. It was not the ideal situation. After all, I worked from 7am to 11pm and these relatives lived another 45 minutes away. Yes, It was an impulsive move, just like so many in those early dark years of mine. I was exhausted, but nothing had prepared me for what would come.
On my way home, I fell asleep at the wheel and rolled my car down an embankment. I was ejected out the side window. I laid there on a grassy hill unconscious with the paramedics in route. Someone must have seen what happened. Until this day, I have no clue of who it was or how the paramedics found me, but I am grateful they did.
I actually have no recollection of being ejected out the window, no memery of going to the hospital or going into surgery and no memory of pain. Much of my story was pieced together from nurses and friends after the fact. Ironically, my first memory was actually when I died.
I remember hovering in a corner up above a doctor and three nurses. They were surrounding a table and looking at something with razor sharp attention. I was inquisited to know what or who was on that table. Was it me? I wondered. I seen a little opening at the foot of the table that they circled around and thought, if I could only make my way there, and there I went gliding to the opening at the foot of the table. I saw a thigh that looked like mine and a foot that also looked like mine. “That’s me.” Now I wanted to know why was I on that table. I heard a loud consistent noise coming from a black box near the window. I willed myself to the box and remember almost studying it, trying to figure out what it was. It was a heart monitor. I know what a heart monitor is. It was as though my memory was fading. The red line went straight across. “Ok, I’m dead.” Immediately I shot back into the corner and then through the wall into a dark tunnel. I must have been traveling about 300 miles per hour. When I arrived on the other side, it was just dark. I couldn’t see anything. Gradually a bright yellow light began to engulf me. I was the light. It was the most peaceful feeling I’ve ever felt. It was literally nirvana. I felt exalted. I felt like I belonged there. There was a feeling of unconditional love that permeated my total consciousness. Suddenly I heard my mother’s voice. She said, “Baby you can’t stay here. You have to go back. Its not your time yet.” I wanted to stay and I imagined that I’d hear God’s voice tell my mother I could stay, but that didn’t happen. What did happen is I saw an image of a rose with thorns and remembered how I picked roses for my mother and made bouquets for her kitchen table. I thought quietly to myself, “If only I could pick one more rose, I’d pick it even if it had thorns.” Suddenly, I shot back into the tunnel and into the hospital room. This time I saw the doctor put gel on the defibrillators and place them on my chest. I felt it. It hurt a little. But the heart monitor showed no signs of life. I seen the doctor putting gel on the defibrillators again. This time I went back into my body. My eyes were not open but I could see him descending on me with those paddles. I put my hand up and pushed his hand away. But the doctor pushed my hand away. So I brought my hand back up and just held his arm. Whatever the heart monitor said or didn’t say, he knew I was back. “Ok Yulonda, ok.” he said.
This experience informs my life and my work. As a Psychotherapist, I realize we are all beings of light. We are all permeated with Gods unconditional love. We all have the ability to attract what we pay attention to. And we all have the ability to live courageously. Not as if we will not die, but as if we will. These qualities are in all of us. We just have to remove the lies that make us believe we are less than magnificent and become distractions that keep us from aligning ourselves with the “One Mind.” We have what it takes to transcend our current consciousness, to be more authentic, and to choose options that will ignite our passion to live with purpose.
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