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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Near Death Experience

My aunt Sharla died several years ago of cancer. She was such a vivacious and sweet lady. (When I was little my mom would sew dresses for her girls- they were always really poofy and frilly. I was always jealous of them having poofy dresses!) Anyway, she had a near-death experience years before she died, and my sweet cousin John was kind enough to email everyone in the family a short essay she wrote about it. I think this is a short version of what happened, but this is a really good wake-up call to the rest of us, and very inspiring!
The Day I Died
by Sharla Luker

The date of February 19, 1982 will be forever impressed upon my mind as the day I died, but more importantly as the day I learned how to live! Early that morning my good husband drove me to the Cottonwood Hospital (in Salt Lake City) for some “sort stay” surgery. The procedure was to take 20 minutes and then, after an hour of recovery, I was to return home.
However, shortly after I was anesthetized, I experienced a full cardiac arrest. To this day the doctors are unsure of the cause, but they suppose I had an allergic reaction to the anesthetic. Since I was only 32 years old and in good health, this was entirely unexpected.
As a standard procedure, I’d been hooked up to a heart monitor. When this monitor’s alarm went off, the doctor, thinking the machine had malfunctioned, wasn’t too concerned. He calmly checked all the wires, then took my pulse and found none. Doctors and nurses were yelling and flying everywhere.
The anesthesiologist hit my chest heard (it hurt a lot afterward) to try and start my heart and do chest message. When that failed, they injected me with atropine, a stimulant. Again the attempt failed to restart my heart. It was decided that since they had nothing to lose they would inject me one more time before giving up. This time they were successful.
During the time that this was transpiring, I had what is commonly referred to as a near-death experience.
Presently, I found myself in a “room.” I don’t remember any walls or ceiling, but I was aware that somehow there were unseen barriers beyond which I knew I was not to be permitted to pass. A feeling of total peace and love surrounded me (the depth and extent of which is unfathomable in our earthly sphere). There are no words in the human language to justly describe the feeling of peace that permeated that realm. My only thought, my total concern, was that I be permitted to stay. At that moment, I wanted it more than anything.
It was then that I became aware of the presence of a man. He informed me that I “had to go back,” but with all the fervor of my being, I begged to stay. The interesting thing about this communication was that it was not verbal, but intellect-to-intellect—a thought process so complete that the possibility of any misunderstanding was non-existent.
Here in this earthly sphere amid my precious children and husband, I find it incredible to believe that I did not want to come back, but at that moment in that other realm, I wanted to stay more than I’ve ever wanted anything.
In communicating with this man, I was given to know that it would be futile to argue or beg, so I acquiesced.
During this experience I found it interesting to note that I felt completely and one hundred percent ME; that is, I was not someone’s wife, or mother, or daughter, or sister, just ME.
The man then “told” me that there were some things I needed to remember when I got back. First, that Heavenly Father wanted me to be happy in my life and to have joy, and that the power was within me to do so. Interestingly enough, this corresponded with a dream I’d had a few months previously.
In my dream I had died and gone to meet Heavenly Father, and He said to me, “Well, did you enjoy your life? Did you experience happiness and joy?” I responded, “I tried to be obedient and live the commandments, but it never occurred to me to be happy.” And then the full realization hit me that if I die, not having experienced joy in living, I’ll have no one to blame but myself. Literally, “man is that he might have joy!”
The second thing the man told me was to love and serve my family and stay close to them. (Much of my joy would come from this.)
The third thing was that Heavenly Father loves me personally and individually and completely. (This last one really overwhelmed me.)
The man then gestured to a cylinder or tunnel-like object and indicated that I was to pass through it in order to “return.” I protested that I wouldn’t “fit,” and he assured me that there would be no problem.
As my body passed through the cylinder, I experienced the most total and excruciating pain. The best way I can describe it is like having labor pains in every cell of my body; even my hair hurt! The moment that my body was completely through, I became conscious (on the operating table). My opinion is that in passing through the “cylinder,” my spirit was going back into my body.
During this process, I was screaming in pain, although I don’t know if it was audibly, or just in my mind. At any rate, I “came to” and heard the nurse saying, “It’s okay—you’re going to be alright now…everything’s alright now…”
Let me say here that my entire Near Death Experience only lasted a couple of minutes, but if I had to put a “time” on how long my “experience” in that other realm lasted, it would be nearly impossible. It seemed like hours. But actually, it was more like there was no such thing as time; it literally did not exist! It felt like I “had all the time in the world,” or eternity.
My Near Death Experience has truly been a blessing to me in many ways. I hold no fear of death but, more importantly, I cherish life. Each day is wonderful. Each person is precious. I’m more aware of beauty in nature and relationships with people. My priorities are more firmly established now.
It’s wonderful to realize my true worth in the sight of God and to have a knowledge of His love for me and for each of us. I truly know that He wants us to experience joy. Also, I have a great desire to learn and to gain knowledge.
More than anything I know that the main purpose of our existence has to do with loving. We are here to bless the lives of others, and the best way is through our own unique abilities and talents, in little ways day by day, without comparing ourselves to others.
My life must be my answer to the question that I think will be asked of each of us on that final judgment day, “How much have you loved?”
I’m thankful that I was given a second chance to better answer this question, and to do all in my power to experience a peace and love that truly is “not of this world.”


Anonymous said...

That is an amazing and truely inspirational story! Thanks for sharing gave me warm goose bumps!!

Doney Days said...

That is amazing! I wish I could remember this everyday; to have joy and to just love people. I try. I really do. But a lot of times it's so hard. Thanks for sharing this!