Not Dead And Maybe A Bit Wiser

I have had so many people asking questions about my recent NDE (Near Death Experience) when I had my heart attack that I'll just go ahead and answer here. I am asked over and over, "What was it like?" or "Did you see anything?" or I see the looks on people's faces and can tell they want to ask those types of questions, but for whatever reason, don't feel comfortable enough to voice them. So here it is as I remember it. And if you have other questions, go ahead and ask; I really don't mind talking about it. I would ask me too if I weren't me.

The answer to the question it seems everyone wants to ask is no, I didn't see a bright light, I didn't see any dead relatives or friends waiting to take me by the hand (maybe they went to a different place than I was going?), I didn't float above myself and look down at my body, I didn't see my life flash before me or stand at any pearly gates. I saw and felt what I can only describe as "cosmic consciousness." It was warm, it was indescribably comforting, it was extremely serene, it was, for lack of a better word, heaven.

At first, I was very reluctant to tell this. I was afraid people would think me strange or crazy. People would treat me differently; with distance. But I feel free now to give a glimpse. Take me or leave me, it's what I experienced and your reaction is up to you. There's really no use trying to describe it to those who have not experienced it. It's just impossible to fully comprehend unless you've experienced it too. And I don't have the words, the writing talent to do it justice. What I would like people to know is that the fear of death is unjustified. Like most things, fearing it is worse than the reality. All pain goes away; all worries go away; only comfort and peace remain. You become one with everything. Everyone is different, but in a manner I don't understand, you as an individual will be given whatever you need to make the transition easier. If that is seeing loved ones who have passed before, that's what you will receive. If it is a bright light of love, that's what you will receive. I received what I needed. I wanted to stay there. It wasn't my time though, so I came back.

I've been asked, "Do I feel changed?" Absolutely. Here is the biggie - I'm not afraid of death now. I don't desire to die (again!) or anything like that. I never had any great, huge fear of it or thought much about it before and  I didn't dwell on it, but like most everyone, I certainly wondered about it with trepidation.  I promise you, dying itself is not that big of a deal really. Think about it this way - millions of people before have done it so how hard can it really be? It's not like you have a choice in the matter any way. I want to spend more time with my family, I want to see my youngest daughter grow up, I have lots of things I want to do or, in some cases, do again, but now I'm free from wondering what happens when you die.

From the moment it happened through now, over 4 weeks later, I have not once wished I had spent or wish I could spend more time at work. Some of the best friends I could ever hope to have are people I met at work and I received a surprisingly large number of get-well emails & cards from folks I have worked with, but not one communication from any of the "big dogs" - you know, the ones who asked me (and my fellow workers) to take pay cuts, to work more overtime, to do more with less, all for the good of "our" company. And my employer didn't miss a beat due to me being out - business didn't stop, clients didn't cancel. I have enough certificates and letters of appreciation and acrylic "headstones" awarded for jobs well done to fill up several file drawers and cover several shelves on my bookcase so thanks, but I really don't need more. Let the young and enthusiastic take their turn. What I need now is time with my family and time to do the things I put off doing while giving my all for the good of the company. Working so hard, putting in so many hours, and being away from home for my job so much is the biggest regret I have now.

Actually I'm pretty pissed about this whole thing. I haven't finished doing what I want to do. Hell, I feel like I've barely started. I'm pissed that it happened to me when I had just celebrated turning 60 such a short time before. I see people shuffling around that outweigh me 100 pounds or more and their only exercise is squishing themselves into their 25-year-old Honda Civic with the busted springs and floorboard and back seat covered in fast-food take-out cartons and driving from their house to the grocery store for more frozen dinners, beer, and another carton of cigarettes, but I'm the one that had a heart attack. I'm the one who has to be on a heart-healthy diet and do cardiac rehab exercises and take five different medicines every day.  I know, nobody said life is fair, but it sure should be more fair than this. And I also know there are good, decent folks who don't deserve it, but have it a lot worse than me. I feel bad for them, I really, truly do. Life hasn't been fair to them either. But right now I'm writing on MY blog and it's about me so waaa, waaa, waaa - it's not fair to me! Thanks. I feel better now.

I'm also really pissed that it happened while I was with my youngest daughter and it scared her so badly. I know I didn't have any control over the timing and it's a good thing it happened where and at the time it did so a medical person was right there, but I hate, hate, hate that something associated with me scared my sweet little girl and no wise, soothing words of comfort will ever change that.

Now that I've got my bitching out of the way, in a perverse way, I'm almost glad it happened. Someone or something (choose according to your belief) tapped me on the shoulder and got my attention. OK, maybe it was more like a sledgehammer upside the head. Time to start slowing down to enjoy what I have - my family and my friends mostly, but also the everyday things; a shared laugh, my daughter's smile, my wife's eyes, a beautiful sunrise, a golden sunset, shapes taken by clouds, the ability to still do things I enjoy like traveling, photography, writing. It's time to smell the proverbial roses, son.

I know how sugary sweet that sounds and how everyone has probably heard it all hundreds of times before. And if you want to dismiss this as the talk of someone who came very close to being just a memory, it's OK, I understand. Not too long ago I would have read this and thought to myself, "Blah, blah, blah." But if you happen to be lucky like me and get some borrowed time to live after your death, you'll be thinking, "Damn, that dude was right. Son of a gun!" It sometimes isn't true that you only have one life to live. I'm proof and I fully intend to enjoy this second chance I've been given. I wish I had been wiser and enjoyed my first one a bit more, but I'm not going to waste precious time thinking about it. Be happy while you're living for you're a long time dead!