It was February, 1971. Snow had fallen the night before. Dad was outside shoveling as I watched cartoons on a Sunday morning. A huge noise from the room above me, startled me. My dog, Buffy, ran to the stairs, as I almost walked up to see what had happened. I heard the strangest sound, a snoring, or gurgling from above. My mother was upstairs, and it sounded scary. I ran outside to tell my father.
He came into the house to check on my mother, and called down to me from upstairs to phone my grandmother for an ambulance. My eleven year old mind couldn’t process what he was telling me, but I knew it was very serious. I called my Nonna, who must have quickly dialed the ambulance service.
A few moments later, the ambulance crew arrived, quickly going up the stairs to see what had happened. My mother had fallen, having a cardiac arrest, something we didn’t know at the time.
As they carried her out on a stretcher, she was conscious and spoke to me. She told me not to worry, and to have fun. My little mind couldn’t process any of this.
Years later, I heard details of her strange hospital experience . It seemed as they stabilized her for the night, my father was leaving the hospital to come home to me. As he was walking down the hallway, he heard the code blue called over the loudspeakers. He just knew it was for my mother.
My mother had another cardiac arrest, this time much more serious. She had to be revived, something I never knew at the time.
The doctors and nurses were able to revive her after a few minutes. When my father was able to see her again, she said something odd to him. “Rich, I’m not afraid to die.” Then she told him her story.
She felt herself being drawn down a long, dark tunnel. The further and faster she went, she began to feel a profound peace settling about her. She felt as if she was the only thing, only person that mattered in the world, and love was wrapping Itself about her. She went no further, but was quickly drawn back to consciousness and heard a loud “popping” sound as she came to.
As I became an adult myself, I read many encounters of near death experiences. They sounded very similar to what my mother had described. She wasn’t “out” as long as some of them, but long enough to have the experience she told us about.
Mom has often shared this tale with people she meets, especially when they are grieving, or forlorn about a loved one who has passed. Many times, she moves people to tears, and has often inspired others with her story. I believe in what she says.
So, as St. Augustine said: “God loves every one of us, as if there’s only one of us.” I believe my mom had a glimpse of this.