The first thing I remember was the urgent sound of a woman's voice. "I'm not getting a pulse!" she said. "I'm not getting a pulse." Though I don't remember actually seeing her, I turned in her direction and said, with some irritation, "Of course you're getting a pulse or I wouldn't be speaking!" But she ignored me and continued to talk about my pulse.
This made no sense. Again, speaking very slowly for emphasis, I corrected her, "You must be getting a pulse or I wouldn't be speaking." In fact, I said, I felt fine. Really good. Come to think of it, I'd never felt better, or more alive. I was healthy and whole, calm and together for the very first time in my life. Though I still couldn't see, I could hear everything - mostly the scramble of many voices talking all at once - but especially the tone of worry in the woman's voice. It didn't bother me.
Nor was I offended by everyone's refusal to listen to me or notice that I was OK. I let it go. I let everything go. It was easy to give up and be quiet, easy to surrender. I just slipped away, as if I was falling asleep without being drowsy first. I had no fear, no sense of alarm or panic. It was like being carried someplace that was inviting, comfortable, and safe - like my warmest childhood memories of being carried to bed by one of my parents.
There was that same sense of security, of being taken to a place where I could rest, and be cared for. Where I would be loved. My next awareness was of an entirely new environment. I knew I was not alone, but I still couldn't see clearly, because I was enveloped in a dense, dark gray fog - not a cold fog but a warm one. I was grateful for that; despite my years in Kansas, or perhaps because of them, I despise the cold. I felt a sense of expectancy, the same anticipation one feels when waiting for a plane to take off or arrive. It seemed natural and right to be here, and for me to wait as long as it took. Earthly time had no meaning for me anymore. '
There was no concept of "before" or "after." Everything - past, present, future - existed simultaneously. I realized that I could discern the particles that made up the fog. I could perceive individual glints of penetrating light and droplets of unfathomable darkness, It wasn't black and white makes gray - it was just light and dark, without color. I could focus on one, then the other, and perceive different patterns, like a 3-D painting. Suddenly, an enormous explosion erupted beneath me, an explosion of light rolling out to the farthest limits of my vision. I was in the center of the Light. It blew away everything, including the fog. It reached the ends of the universe, which I could see, and doubled back on itself in endless layers. I was watching eternity unfold.
The Light was brighter than hundreds of suns, but it did not hurt my eyes. I had never seen anything as luminous or as golden as this Light, and I immediately understood it was entirely composed of love, all directed at me. This wonderful, vibrant love was very personal, as you might describe secular love, but also sacred. The only words I could formulate in the midst of this incredible Light were from my childhood: "Homey home." It was something I used to say when when we had been on an outing and I had began to spot the familiar landmarks of our neighborhood.
Though I had never seen God, I recognized this light as the Light of God. But even the word God seemed too small to describe the magnificence of that presence. I was with my Creator, in holy communication with that presence. The Light was directed at me and through me; it surrounded me and pierced me. It existed just for me.
That instant of physical contact was all that I needed. This man became the conduit that I passed through on the way to my own body, and for a brief moment, I was observing as well as experiencing what was happening to us both. I could feel his nervousness and even discomfort about performing this intimate, humane service in front of a gawking crowd. But it was his compassion, his love for me, a total stranger, that guided me - unerringly this time - back into my body. (Fade to black. Fade to blacker.) I heard a woman calling my name, and though I wanted to respond, I could not answer her. I wanted to go toward her voice, but took too much effort. I was cold now, cold from the inside out, like a corpse. I felt as were moving through a dank, dark hallway blocked by heavy tapestries that I desperately tried to push aside, to get to that voice. But was getting nowhere.