Food arrives at our place on an almost routine basis these days. Organized by the amazing Carol Pochodylo, a chuck wagon rolls up to our house several times a week in the form of our kids’ friends’ parents, (if I’m allowed to use double apostrophes). The meals have been luscious and much appreciated. And wow, the stories that’ve arrived steaming hot have also been delicious.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting one of the parents whom I’d never run into before. For the sake of anonymity I’m keeping her name out of this but will gladly add it if she agrees later on. Her story was phenomenal. Having had brain surgery after brain surgery over the years the woman could more than empathize with my plight. But when she told me she actually clinically died twice I knew I had to ask.
“Did you see the tunnel?” I almost rudely inquired. To which she simply responded, with a large smile, “Oh yes.”
To elaborate, for years I have been interested in Near Death Experiences, (NDE). I’ve read widely about different people’s and different culture’s experiences with them and to say I’m intrigued by the phenomenon is a gross understatement. I’ve only actually met a handful of people who have agreed to talk to me personally about them. So when I see an opportunity, I swoop in all vulture-like.
Her story was routine and earth shaking. A huge percentage of these experiences follow her narrative but when it happens to you it’s anything but mundane. What I’m told is she was at a routine dentist appointment — nothing to do with all her brain tumor work — when she somehow got penicillin, which she is allergic to. She ended up dead on the floor.
A great white light tunnel hovered in front of her and she described a profound feeling of happiness, joy and ultimate, unconditional love. “Once you go there, believe me you never look back,” she explained.
Being nosy or being a journalist I pushed even further, “who did you see?” Everyone reports seeing somebody or some being. “Oh, my grandma showed up and that’s why I’m here today. She told me I had too many commitments to my small children and husband and to leave them now wouldn’t be right at all. So I came back.”
She then described coming to in the ambulance and being discombobulated but remembering the soul releasing experience of pure love. God do I love hearing people talk like that. She went on to say the little things here on earth are just that, little, minor details that shouldn’t be given too much weight.
She gave me directions on heating up the wonderful dinner, told me she absolutely adored my eldest daughter Skye, then floored me by asking for a hug before departing. “Heavens yes,” I thought joyfully, otherworldly, gratefully, I’ll take a hug.
So when Marci and Taylor came home I showed the food off and shared the story and my wife quickly pointed out, “Oh, it sounds a lot like Grandma.”
Taylor agreed but I had somehow forgotten the story. It turns out Marci’s grandma had a very similar experience after an unsuccessful C-section of her first child. Way back in the 1930s, she temporarily died and her baby fully passed on. As she was hovering in that place between life and death she saw her husband bent over, weeping uncontrollably. But here’s the thing, she also saw the overwhelmingly beautiful light and was drawn to it like all souls would be. But no, she stopped somehow and realized that both her child’s death and her own death would be too much for her husband to bear. So she went back.
For years she told that story to the next four children she successfully birthed and to some of her grandkids as well. She always told my wife she didn’t fear death and actually was kind of looking forward to it. Living to a ripe old age of 93 she apologized to Marci one time before going into surgery on my wife’s birthday. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to mar your birthday with my death,” she told Marci.
Obviously she knew something, because she let go on that very day. But I don’t think anybody in the extended family felt an overwhelming mourning because of everything she’d said all her life.
There’s comfort in food and found awakenings. I don’t know whether the women I’ve written about would agree, but I imagine they look at their metaphysical experiences as silver linings amidst their own personal tragedies. Regardless, they exude an inner peace.
To us, we outsiders who’ve never had the fortune or misfortune of experiencing such trauma, their stories are gifts far more impressive than BluRay players, iPhones or new cars. Their gifts are guideposts along our own epic sagas and there’s nothing like pausing during our journey and seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Or as my childhood friend Marc wrote recently, “the cake at the end of the funnel.”