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A Near Death Experience Reflection: (Coincidences are Proof of Him)
A Near Death Experience Reflection by John Connor
It was New Years Eve 2002 (and I was completely content) and we suddenly received a call from the wife of one of my closest friends. Don (Elderdice) had been rushed to Florida Hospital and had been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. He was only 39 years of age. My closest aunt (Connie Wilson) had passed away from a brain aneurysm at 39 years of age in the 1960s. They scheduled him for emergency surgery and operated on New Years Day. Don was built like a gladiator and was in great shape; I was speechless. I said a prayer, my wife gave me her scapular and I proceeded to Florida Hospital (it was pouring rain). The nurses allowed me access to Don; I prayed and left the scapular with him (I had never prayed so deeply). He underwent surgery and was induced into a coma to enhance the probability of recovering.
Less than one week later (January 6, 2003) I was to end up in the room next to Don. The majority of the details, which follow, are not of my memory, but of my wife and family’s remembrance. I had spent the day at Daytona State College (DSC) where I profess and practice psychology. It was a pre-term planning/workday. I had taken our middle daughter along for the day. As I was driving home from Daytona that afternoon, I called my wife to tell her I was really tired and not to work too late. By the time my wife arrived home, I had cooked some spaghetti and was very tired. I had told my wife I did not feel very good and was going to lie down for a while. During the next 2 hours, I spent my time between the bed and the bathroom. My wife thought I was experiencing the stomach flu (our oldest daughter had just recently been afflicted with it). At one point, my wife went to make me some tea and dry toast, to settle my stomach. However, upon her return with the tea and toast, I was not to be found…until she discovered me on the floor of our bathroom, aspirating and in seizure.
Immediately, my wife called her parents and 911. The squad quickly rushed me to the emergency room at Florida Hospital (Altamonte). The staff at Altamonte determined that they were not equipped to handle a situation such as mine. I was diagnosed “brain-dead” as the result of a hemorrhage of the right ventricle and was on full life support. Within just a few hours I had been transferred to Florida Hospital South (by the Orlando Science Center).
At this point it was no mere “coincidence” that another Divine Intervention was at work. Dr. Christopher Baker was on call that night (I thank God for this). His neuro-nurse Marsha was on the floor, as was Darlene, an amazingly talented neuro-nurse. They had to relieve the pressure in my cranium and when they drilled a very small hole (yes, I had a hole in my head) they said that they had never seen so much blood come out of someone’s head. And, here was I, in a natural coma, being placed in the room immediately beside my friend Don Elderdice (who was in a drug induced coma) in the Neuro-Critical Care Ward (5thFloor) of Florida Hospital South, Orlando. By Tuesday afternoon, I had been administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (Last Rites) by Father David Scotchie (who I have, on a few subsequent occasions, “coincidentally”, referred to him as Father Christi). Christi is Latin for Christ and when Father Scotchie administered this sacrament according to our faith (the Roman Catholic Faith) we believe the Priest becomes Christ temporarily…
No one ever dreamed that I would someday walk out of that hospital (except me and you know who). The staff tried diligently to illicit a reflex response from me. My wife had been told that each day would be taken one at a time but that if no response had been documented by the fourth day, a decision would have to be made (I would have no part in that decision, except with His help). However, on the morning of the fourth day the staff was quite thrilled and it was decided that I stood a chance for I had moved one of my “pinkie” toes. The next two months were spent in the hospital and followed by another 5 months of rehabilitation therapies. Even though I had a long road to travel, it seems to have been a relatively easy and short journey (perhaps it was a sabbatical).
There are many pictures of Jesus Christ and other religious figures on the walls of what I consider a sacred place of Divine Intervention; a place (a place of business) where the administrators are not too proud or ignorant to realize the extraordinary influence that God can have when we are inclusive of Him (thank God our state motto is: In God We Trust). Don and I both fully recovered. Don and I run into each other at least once a week as we continue to play ice hockey and reflect on our Good News. Once or twice a month we skate with his son, Ryan and teach him the game of hockey; Don shines during this time and does not take his presence here for granted. We also visit Florida Hospital around the New Year Holiday, each and every year, to give thanks to where Divine Intervention continues to occur. Although I resigned as Director of our Educator Preparation Institute I continue to profess and research in the subject areas of psychology and education. I have co-authored an educational psychology textbook and authored a learning theory (Revelation Theory of Learning). However, I believe more importantly I have balanced my life with other not so trivial pursuits. I am an active member of our parish’s Ministry to The Sick, Knights of Columbus (3rdDegree), I have become a Secular Carmelite and I play old-timers hockey with a community of immature men (like myself) who, for the most part, enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I have learned much throughout my life; however, my learning curve was significantly more - steep during and immediately after my coma. Here are some of the insights/revelations that were shared with me.
When you are close to God it is significantly peaceful and beautiful. “Life” does not end when we die; we carry on in spirit…Your life does flash before you as you pass; however, for me I kept going back before my birth to a time and place much like Eden that had been described in our Bible. God is with you; even when you think he is not (I could reflect on this so profoundly when I awakened, He was with me throughout my life and is still with me at this moment…).
Some of our greatest 20th Century role models for mankind are: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and interestingly enough, a non-Christian, with the last name of Gandhi. There are others… More precisely it may not be as simple as the type of religion you practice it may indeed be how well you emulate our Greatest role-model…