|Hieronymus Bosch, "The Ascent of the Blessed", 1490|
So, it was a little surprising that, within a very short time of meeting her, she shared with me an experience that she had had about 18 months earlier. It probably helped that she knew I was a Methodist pastor.
The account following is what she told me at that time (written up later by her at my request, exactly as you read it). This is the first time this has been published anywhere, and I do so with Judy's permission.
On May 20, 2004 in Los Angeles, I had a Near-Death Experience.Judy has since come down with serious, life-threatening cancer, for which she is receiving intensive chemotherapy in NYC. She has had several more experiences of a similar nature, which I will share in the future. Her positive spirit and, dare I say it, 'faith', is an inspiration to us all.
I just had taken an anti-hypertensive medication which I had not tried before and, instantly, I started having breathing problems.
I said to Harry, "I think I'll lie down," and I stretched out on the floor. I am not given to napping on the floor.
Predictably, he called 9-11.
I heard the sirens coming closer and I was relieved.
As soon as the EMTs walking into the condo, I said, "I need oxygen."
They put a mask on me and took my vital signs. Vital signs? I had none!
Harry was hysterical. He asked that they take me to UCLA Medical Center, which is where his mother's doctors were. I heard every word clearly.
Yet UCLA was about 3 miles from his condo, in Brentwood in West LA.
They explained that, when a patient was as sick as I was, they legally were required to go to the nearest hospital. In this case, that was St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, about 2 miles away.
Then they said to Harry, attempting to comfort him, I think, "Don't worry, mister, they're just going to declare her DOA."
He did not find this comforting.
We raced to the hospital, siren blaring, and the techs were on cell phones with the ER trauma team.
When we drove into the ambulance bay, the whole team raced out to meet me.
I was rushed into the ER and hooked to many different IVs, in my arms, wrists, ankles.
I was watching everything, in no pain, from above.
I could hear everything.
I was calm.
It was exactly the way the movies show near-death scenes and I was wondering how those writers had known how to describe the experience so accurately and with such detail.
I was in the tunnel, yes, the tunnel they always show in those scenes.
I was being drawn, effortlessly and with no control, toward the light, almost as if a super-magnet were moving me along the path.
People always mention that "light," but it was more of a phosphorescent glow. I am very precise about language. And it was irresistible, literally: I wanted to reach it.
The tunnel was long, however, and I only got about halfway toward the light when I had a conversation.
This was a conversation without words. I would have to describe it as telepathic. I was speaking with a Higher Authority. For lack of more precise definition, I would term that Authority to be God.
I said -- telepathically -- that I wanted to go forward.
And the Higher Authority said that it was not my time, that we human beings deluded ourselves in thinking that we had control of our own lives, but that none of us determined our own destinies.
He told me that we all eventually will go to the same final destination, but we will take different paths to get there and that we do not control the route.
I said that I wanted to see my father, my uncles. I said that I wanted to meet Jesus. (This detail drives my Jewish friends crazy and my Christian friends always are surprised when I tell them this.)
Yet, again, the Authority let me know that it was not my time.
Immediately, there was a huge shout, and the medical team said, "She's back."
I returned to life with no physical effects of the experience.
I had been flatlined for about 20 minutes.
They expected me to have heart damage, brain damage. They put me into Intensive Care for four days to monitor me, and they did not know what to make of me.
I was clear from the moment I came back as to the day, the place, the name of the President.
Eventually, they released me after making me promise that I would be vigilant if I showed any symptoms.
I never have had a sympton relating to the NDE, but not a day has gone by when I did not wonder exactly why I had been sent back to this plane, this dimension, that we call "life."
By now, I've read explanations that so many people who have NDEs have similar experiences because the experience has been suggested by scenes in movies. Another explanation is that this is a delusion of a dying brain -- except that my brain, Thank God, did not die.
I have no personal theories. I simply wonder....
Update (12/11/2012): Judy passed away after a long and courageous battle against cancer on December 7, 2012. She has, I assume, now completed her journey down that long tunnel....