By Debbie Lynn
Yes, I have seen the light and came back to tell about it.
It was 36 years ago. I was 19, and it is something I rarely talk about. It took a long time for me to process and somewhat understand the experience, and after all these years, it still seems like a dream. It was 1979, and I was out on my own and partying like a rock star.
It was a typical Friday night at our house.
Bill (my boyfriend) and I were having our friends over for the usual—beer, whisky, pot and cocaine. The evening was mellow with good music, conversation and laughs until around 11 pm when Shawn, arrived. He was wide-eyed (coke-d out of his brains) and couldn’t wait to unveil his prize.
He came in with an air of urgency and moved to the kitchen table where he summoned us to come check it out. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small folded magazine envelope with the jewel wrapped up in it. His hands were a bit shaky, and his jaw was jutting left and right (grinding his teeth) as he gently and meticulously unwrapped the miniature paper. He un-tucked one corner, slowly un-tucked the next, and with extreme caution opened each side to reveal the pinkish crystalline rock.
He then sat back in his chair, folded his arms across his chest, and gazed at the stone with great pride. There was a bit of excitement in his tone as he announced to us, “Peruvian Pink—pure cocaine.”
And so it was—glistening with all its glory and potential. We all sat there and marveled at its unique beauty as we had never seen such a rock.
Let the games begin.
Shawn asked for the mirror, I obliged, and he laid out the big cities (a term we used for large and long lines of cocaine). Then, we all took our turn snorting up a couple of hundred dollars of bliss. We were pumped, we were grinding, and we were talking a mile a minute.
This went on until the wee hours of the night.
I was done around 4 am, and decided I must try to sleep. I had to be at work at 10 the next morning, so I headed for my room. I took a few hits off the pipe (smoked some pot) as I thought that should do the trick and mellow me out, and I settled into my bed.
I actually drifted off pretty easily considering the amount of blow (cocaine) I had ingested, but the weed was really potent—a good counter-balance, just right for sleep.
An hour and a half later, a very weird sensation came over me. I was floating softly, calmly, quietly; I was leaving my body behind. My heart was slowing down and my breath was barely audible but the feeling was beyond words. A peace and serenity is all I can articulate, for there is no other way to explain what this feels like. I slightly realized I would not be coming back if I surrendered to my lightness (this uncanny delight) as I lay dying, but I did nothing about it; it was too beautiful.
The things I was seeing; the light, color, tranquility (yes, I saw tranquility) are not of this Earth. They are far beyond what my mind could grasp, but at the same time there was an understanding of acceptance and I had nothing to fear.
I began moving to a voice, a familiar and kind voice, but it was not outside me calling in, it was inside calling me out (in other words, the voice was in my mind). A light of repose encased this voice and the light got stronger and stronger.
Soon the reassurance was funneling through the brilliance, and beckoned me again, saying, “Take my hand, it is time, you are safe.”
While my soul was ceding to the spirit of the moment, my body was completely still (almost no breath) and then, just when I was at my edge, ready to let go and surrender, my mind went into overdrive.
I began arguing with someone, something, saying, “Who is going to walk the dog? Who is going to take my shift at work? I am not ready, not ready!” But my heart (at this point) was hardly beating, my body was shutting down, and I was having a hard time getting out of my peace and comfort; I cannot explain it, but I fought it tooth and nail.
At some point earlier, Bill had come to bed, and in my solemn effort to resist the temptation that was unfolding, I managed to rouse myself for only a moment; I reached out to him, touched his arm, and told him to call the ambulance.
I said, “I am dying…”
As I floated out of my body, I hovered over it for a minute. I resigned to the light and the outpouring love. I danced in the outreached hand and voice caressing my in-between presence of life and death.
But again, all the while I was trying to counter that allure, I really wanted to go with the more urgent need to stay alive.
Bill was shaking me, pleading with me, holding my face and crying. He picked up my limp body (all 98 lbs) and brought me to the living room, frantically awaiting the EMTs to arrive. As I watched the whole ordeal from above, the tenderness in Bill’s presence was painful.
I longed to console him, but I was lifeless and tired.
The ambulance arrived, and the EMTs began to work on me immediately. They were pumping my chest and giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and it wasn’t long before they put air in my lungs and I came back. They rushed me to the hospital where I was kept overnight for observation.
When I came around to my senses and finally put the pieces together of the night before, I was amazed, mortified and embarrassed. I overdosed. I died, but somehow, some way, I was given a second chance at life.
This disconcerting reality was an understatement. I was wrestling with insanity, all those stupid God questions, and ego/bashing all of my thoughts. I wanted explanations, I wanted reprieve, and I wanted out of the hospital.
I was released to Bill later the next day, and he took me home and tried to comfort me. He was so freaked out and I was freaked out and upset. We both decided to let it rest in our memory (not talk about it) and it would stay within our walls.
Bill had to work that evening. He fussed over me, making sure I was okay.
I eventually assured him that I was fine, and he reluctantly left for his job. As I closed the door behind him, I broke down hard. I replayed what had happened over and over in my head with such disbelief that I made myself ill.
I recalled the vivid light, the voice, and the hand of love asking me ever so softly to come to it (although at the time the voice was genderless, it felt strong and had a presence like my deceased grandfather). I recalled my body floating, my heart coming to a stop, and the feeling of being suspended and torn between two worlds. I was nauseated and confused. I went to bed, and slept for 14 hours.
When I woke up, the confusion of the previous night’s events came back to me with a vengeance.
I knew of course I had overdosed, but I had no idea what I had seen after that, and why. NDE (near death experience) was not in my knowledge bank (as of yet) and I felt as if I would explode with frustration and guilt.
This feeling lasted for days, so I decided to seek out help, yet had no one to turn to. I thought perhaps a priest could probably explain, but my anti-church sentiments held me back. I had no friends, no family, nobody—no one for consolation. I was on my own with this one.
I found myself at the library, digging into the so-called occult and reading about others who had had similar things happen after a traumatic near death experience.
NDE is a phenomenon that many have encountered. The light, the voices and familiarity were a common theme, and with some hesitation, I felt a bit of normalcy returning to my being. However, I wasn’t totally sold on the theory, and the explanations seemed way to foreign and Star Trek-y to me.
I kept this experience undercover, quite close to my heart, and pondered it for many years. I thought about the repercussions of telling my story, the criticism, the you’re out of your mind looks, and the skepticism attached to the unknown. And since I didn’t have any jaw-dropping revelations or proof of light afterlife, what was I to do with all of this?
The answer would come later, but back then, all I had to hold on to was a fleeting memory of something indescribable (in my mind) that I, and only I, could feel. How do I describe seeing and feeling tranquility? I didn’t think it was possible.
Let there be Light
Now of course all my concerns about telling the tale are null and void. It was something that happened, I was very young, and it opened a door to greater vision of possibility. I will never pretend to know anything for sure because being absolute is so limiting but… I died one night. That is a fact. I often compare leaving our world to what it must be like floating in the womb—innocent, unencumbered, uninhibited, and at peace.
The beginning and the end.
I am thankful for the many things this bit of life has shown me. Most of all, I am thankful that I had something bigger than me (the will and the energy and my dog) to keep me from crossing over after all; I had shit to do and stuff to see and people to meet.
Everyone has different ideas about what actually transpires when we die (I think it is very personal) but the one thing that I don’t understand is all the effort and time wasted in conjectures and worrying about it. Live your life now.
What I was allowed to experience was pure love. I was cradled in it, wrapped in it and that is about as light as you get.
Heaven on earth? It is as real as you want it to be.
This post originally appeared in Rebelle Society
Editor: Dana Gornall
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