Near Death Experiences, Is There Life After Death? My Dad's Spiritual Journey-Was it a religious experience?
Life After Death
It was late one Friday evening when I received the first of several telephone calls from my sisters in Ohio. They all wanted to let me know that my father had been rushed to the hospital and was in very serious condition. My sister Kathi, who is a nurse, told me that my father had collapsed earlier in the day while he was taking a bath. He was unable to get out of the bathtub and my nephew and brother in law had to assist him. He was rushed to the hospital and was in intensive care. His kidneys had stopped functioning and the doctors were running tests to try to determine what was else happening with him. They thought that he had a perforated bowel and toxins were flooding his body and attacking his organs. My sister told me that I needed to make the 15 hour drive to Ohio if I wanted to see him before he passed away.
An Eventful Trip
I had made the trip from Oklahoma to Ohio a dozen times in the past 20 years, but this was the first time I was driving alone. I was nervous when I left Saturday morning and was even more antsy when I discovered I had a leak in one of my back tires. I went to the local Walmart where and elderly man in the service department expressed concern over the condition of my tire as he aired it for me. He became more concerned when I told him where I was going and let me know that he felt there was no way I was going to make it. I let him know that I had no choice in the matter because I wasn't going to get paid for 2 days and I couldn't replace the tire until then. He told me that he would be "worried" about me all day and would pray for me.
When I left the store I wasn't in the best mental state, I couldn't stop worrying that I wouldn't get to Ohio before my father passed away. Before I realized it I was speeding and it wasn't very long before I was pulled over by a state trooper. Being pulled over wouldn't normally have been a problem for me, but I had just let my driver's license expire because I hadn't wanted to get a new license picture until I lost some weight. When the trooper came to my window and asked for my license and insurance information I burst into tears. I explained that I was on my way to see my dying father who was in the hospital and that my driver's license was expired. I fully expected him to haul me to jail and impound my car.I was hopeless and at that point in time I honestly felt that something was trying to prevent me from seeing my dad before he made his journey to the other side.
After a few minutes the trooper came back, handed me a written warning and made me promise that I would renew my license when I got back to Oklahoma. He admonished me to slow down and drive safely. I thanked him profusely and resumed my journey. About an hour later I had the strange urge to see the written warning the trooper had given me so I pulled over and looked at the "ticket". To my surprise I realized that I had been driving in the wrong direction the entire time! If that trooper had not pulled me over I would have continued driving west when I should have been going east, ending up in California instead of Ohio. I suddenly realized that there wasn't something trying to keep me from getting to Ohio instead there was a guardian angel watching over me.
I drove into southern Ohio a dozen hours later. I was on the home stretch and called my sister to let her know that I would be pulling into her driveway within 2 or 3 hours.
This part of the trip was easy for me, I knew the way like the back of my hand. On the outskirts of Columbus I noticed two very bright lights in the sky on my left . I watched the lights as I got closer and closer to them-then watched as they crossed the highway in front of me. I had seen helicopter search lights before and figured that was what they were. I didn't think about them again until I arrived at my sister's house- 6 hours later! My sister wanted to know why it had taken me so long to get to her house and I didn't know what to tell her. I know I didn't stop. I don't think I fell asleep. I honestly don't know what happened during the extra three hours it had taken me to get there.
At the Hospital
I went to the hospital to see my father in the morning. My sisters were all ready there and the gravity of my father's situation hit me as we gathered around his bed and I saw how truly awful he looked His kidney was not functioning (none of us knew my dad had only one kidney until now), he was having difficulty breathing, and wasn't able to understand what was going on around him. Worst of all he looked terrified. He began to babble and started telling us that "Nobody smoked" . None of us knew what that meant but he was insistent and wanted us to know that "Nobody smoked in Jesus' time". He continued babbling incoherently for about 10 minutes and then began to say the Catholic prayer of contrition and the Hail Mary prayer over and over again. The situation looked hopeless and I knew that my dad was about to die. My sister who is a nurse began begging him to fight and told the doctor that he was to do everything possible to save my dad's life. I leaned over my dad and asked him quietly if there was anyone with him. He told me no. I whispered to him that I loved him and if he needed to go it was ok. I left the room as I became completely overwhelmed, then found a small bathroom, locked myself in, and began crying and talking to God. I asked Him not to let this be the end for my father and prayed the there be something more for him-somewhere for him to go.
When I got back to the intensive care unit there was some kind of breathing mask on my father and the doctors were talking about the possibilty of intubating him. They wanted to know if any of us knew whether or not he had a living will in the event that his heart stopped. My mother arrived shortly afterward and my sisters and I left so that she could speak with the doctors and my parents would have some privacy. Several hours later the hospital staff told my sisters that my father's condition had not worsened and we needed to go home. They told us that they would call us if anything happened during the night.
My Dad and The Man
The next morning my mother told my sister and I that my dad died the previous night, several times, but had been revived. I was angry that the hospital staff hadn't called me to let me know what had happened. My sister and I rushed into the intensive care unit expecting the worst but to our amazement found my dad sitting up in his bed smiling! He began talking rapidly and was very insistent that he had to tell us something. He said that he had died the previous night and the moment he did everything around him went white. He said that he saw a tunnel then told us that there had been a "man" with him who told him that this wasn't the way it was supposed to be. My dad asked "the man" if he could come back and "the man" told him tht it was his choice and he could if he wanted to.
I was speechless when I realized that God had answered my prayer from the day before and through my father had shown me that death would not be the end of my dad-that he indeed had somewhere to go when he passed on. I asked my dad if "the man" said that he could stay for a while and he rolled his eyes at me and said, "I'm here aren't I?"
For the next few hours he sat and talked to my sister and I about his Grandma Sophie-someone he had never told us about before. He told us stories from his childhood and what it was like for he and his 4 brothers to grow up around her and my great grandfather. My sister and I were transfixed and hung on his every word my father said, grateful that he sharing a part of himself with us that we had not known about.
My dad's kidney began functioning that morning and tests showed that the rest of his organs were functioning normally. After a week in the hospital he was transferred to nursing home where he recouperated. It wasn't easy for him but my dad is back at home now and other than being tired he is fine. He tells my sisters everyday that he is going to live to be 100. He does not however remember what he told my sister and me about his death experience or about growing up with Grandma Sophie.