I’ve had five near-death experiences now. Five times I have been in the same room near the side of loved ones as they have passed from this world. Each of these deaths, in their own way, was perfect for the person whose life we were honoring as they passed into the next world. Perfect in the sense that each mirrored the person involved, seemingly made for them as if their life had molded their death just for them.
It was the first two of these near-death experiences that were to play a role in my personal awakening process. Not that I realized it at the time, of course, but by looking back on it now, I see how pivotal these experiences were in my life. I’d had my share of troubles by then, and I was just beginning to make a life for myself and figure out who I was.
When I got word that grandpa was dying early in 1993, I drove up to Minnesota from Texas to be with the family as he died.
My grandfather had lived a full life and had been the one person I knew I could count on if needed. He dedicated his life to his family, and all that he did revolved around doing things for others. I’d always thought of him as a dinosaur, in a way, a relic to by-gone days when people were more community oriented. His entire family, including my grandmother, his children and grandchildren, were gathered around his bed telling him how much we loved him as he passed. I left Minnesota feeling quite at peace with Grandpa’s death, knowing that he certainly had earned such a loving send off.
In 1994, I received word that my father was in the hospital with small chance of recovery. Once again I made the trek up to Minnesota for my last chance to see him.
Dad also had his entire family with him as he passed. I vividly recall us standing around his hospital bed, somberly watching him as he left. A few hours before he died, the nurse had called my Dad’s name, and for a brief moment his eyes flared open. There was anger in those eyes, and fear, which in an eerie way mirrored the life dad had led: a life filled with anger, resentment, fear and loathing. Things had never seemed to go right for Dad, and his death had become another example of how unfair life is. He was only 54 years old.
Once I got back to Texas, I spent a lot of time alone contemplating my father’s death — Grandpa’s, too — because the inevitable comparison between the two was prominent in my mind. I remember thinking about those eyes of dad’s, and their impact on me. I made an inner vow to myself that no matter what, when my time comes, I was not going to go out like he did, with anger in my eyes and fear in my heart. I swore that when my time came, I would go out like Grandpa did, peacefully and at ease with my role in the world.
My promise to myself was heartfelt — yet I had no clue how to accomplish it. But this I knew: Based on how my life — and feelings towards this life — had gone up until the point when dad died, I knew I had the very same potential in me to go out just like he did. I also felt a great deal of anger and pent-up emotional baggage, which had the potential to dominate my actions.
After I made this inner vow to myself, I can now say that my life actually DID begin to change. I began experiencing some amazing shifts in my views of the world. But it was that inner vow I made that inspired these changes. It is like the “universe” recognized my true desire for change, and thus responded accordingly by putting things in my life to help these changes occur.
My personal awakening has been a process; there is no single moment in my life in which I can point and say, “This is when I woke up.” I remain convinced, however, that my inner vow to somehow find peace with who I am that gave the universe permission to then begin showing me how to find this peace. And all it took was a couple of near-death experiences.