We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears.
We must not demean life by standing in awe of death.
In 1994, I lost my brother Ron. In 2008, I lost my sister Micki. In 2011, I lost both my parents within two weeks of each other.
Losing someone you love is devastating. Mere words can’t describe the pain and anguish of loss. My heart hurt so much, some days I couldn’t do much more than breathe. Even that was an effort.
And where did they go after they died? That question bothered me most of all. I needed to know that my family was all right, no matter where they were. Not knowing their final destination just added to my pain. I begged God to let me know my family was okay.
Then I had a dream.
I saw myself lying in bed. The woman in bed didn’t look like me but I instinctively knew it was me. The woman closed her eyes, and the next instant I was in her body. I was in pain. I hurt all over, a general achiness. I was extremely tired—even breathing was too much of a chore. I knew I was dying. I could feel my body slowly shutting down, but surprisingly I wasn’t frightened. I had lived a good long life and this felt like the next phase—a natural progression. I didn’t fight it. I found myself relaxing. I was ready to go.
Then I left my body with force—the only thing I can liken it to is being shot out of a cannon. It was quick and painless.
I felt weightless. My first thought was: I’m free! The body was so heavy and so cold; I was relieved to finally be rid of it. It felt like being immersed in a pool of heavy, cold clay, then someone pulls you out and you’re free to move your arms and legs; you can twist and turn without any effort.
Then the euphoria hit.
Those who have died and came back usually can’t find the words to describe how wonderful they felt after leaving their bodies. I am struggling to find the words, as words are so limiting. Euphoria comes closest to describing what I felt at the time.
As I shot into the air, my arms fully extended on both sides and transformed into butterfly wings. The colors of my wings were such an array of colors, all blended perfectly together. I knew those colors were as unique as my personality. Each design on my wings represented some part of my life. My wings were my pride and joy, my personal signature of having faced a crisis and risen above it. I knew others would see my wings and know instantly the intimate details of the life I had lived. Like an intricate tapestry, each color and each design meant something and blended together, telling the whole story.
I flew to the left and flew to my right and did somersaults in the air. And laughed the whole time.
As I neared what I perceived to be heaven, I saw a crowd of people. The crowd was so vast that I couldn’t make out individual faces. I could tell they were waiting for me. All of them. I felt they were all family and friends who were gathered together to joyously welcome me “home.”
After I “landed,” I recognized the faces. I knew each and every one of them. Just like a football player who made an outstanding pass or a baseball player who hit the winning home run, and fellow players slap them congratulations on the arm and back, that’s what I felt. Hands reached for me, touching me lovingly, as if in congratulations of a job well done.
I remember feeling “I’m home.” Like I had been on a long, painful, tiring journey and now I could put those heavy suitcases down and relax. The struggle was over. Finally.
I stood, looking at the crowd and felt more love coming from them then I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt complete and whole. My mind and my soul and my body were in perfect harmony. Every good feeling I’ve ever had magnified a million times over.
The crowd slowly parted. I saw a figure standing in the back. As the last few individuals moved out of the way, I saw her.
She was smiling. And breathtakingly beautiful.
There was a soft golden light all around her.
“Mom!” I yelled as loud as I could, ecstatic to see her again.
When I had last seen her, she was on oxygen. Her hair had been streaked with gray, her eyes dulled from pain, and so thin and frail. The woman before me now was in the prime of her life. Her hair was soft, silky and brunette, her eyes bright, and her body healthy. I stood looking at her in awe and amazement, unable to speak.
“Death is not a punishment but a reward,” she told me telepathically. “The world has it all wrong. They’re afraid of death and worry about it all their lives. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Death is wonderful; to be free of that body; to be free of all the cares and concerns we had on earth. You can see, I didn’t die. We never die. Our soul is eternal. It cannot die. So don’t be afraid of it. Death is a door through which we enter into joy.”
When I woke up, it took me a while to realize it was just a dream. It all seemed so real. The colors looked so vivid, and the feelings so strong—how could it all have been a dream? Is it possible I actually visited heaven?
Most importantly, what did it all mean?
After spending hours reflecting, pondering and questioning, I finally came to a conclusion: It is what it is. My mother was specific. She meant what she said. And I am to take it at face value. Whether the dream was real or imaginary isn’t the point. I’ll never know the answer in this lifetime, so no point in questioning it further.
The real point is: the “dream” changed me.
Up until then I had always thought of death as a punishment. Awful, terrible, agonizing. Now I saw it for what it really is, a beautiful, joyous, liberating experience.
I don’t know why God in all His wisdom predestined the body to die. But like a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly, the transformation is necessary.
Thanks to that dream, I’m no longer afraid of death.
When it’s my time to go, I’ll have a place in heaven among my friends and family. Much as I want to see them again now, I’m in no hurry to get there. I still have my life to live. I’ll eventually get there. When it’s my time.
Thank you, God, for letting me see my mom again. And more importantly, for letting me know death is not the end but the beginning of a wonderful new life. Death is merely a door through which we enter into joy.