“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. (Exodus 23: 20)
Five years ago a doctor came into ICU and told my older sister, 57 at the time, he didn’t expect her to live through the night with her ruptured intestine; her body was septic. He gave her a few minutes to process the idea, then put her in a drug-induced coma.
My brother and I were told to come to her bedside traveling to Texas from Atlanta and Phoenix. There was a blizzard in our hometown that January day and the airport closed. Two days later she’d made it through the worst, and because we were all gathering in Texas the next month for my mother’s birthday anyway, we waited to go until then.
She woke up five days after she’d been told she might not make it through the night; the nurses were asking her many questions to determine if she had suffered any level of brain damage. She had not.
In the 1980’s while I was living in Little Rock, I travelled through Dallas to Amarillo. I think I was on American Airlines. We left Dallas on a stormy Friday night and arrived in Amarillo, only to be told that we couldn’t land yet due to the storm and would need to be put in a flight pattern until we could land. After a long while, the pilot said we’d have to go back to Dallas. We could not land at AMA. We made the hour flight back to Dallas. We circled DFW waiting for an opportunity to land.
Finally, the very forthright pilot told us, “Folks, we are going to have to land now. We are low on fuel and we can’t go anywhere else. This is going to be a rough ride. Prepare for a potentially rough landing.” I’m sure he said were going to keep you safe as possible blah, blah, blah. I don’t remember.
All I remember is that for the next 20 minutes we were on a roller coaster ride on a jet plane. We’d drop what seemed to be 30 feet and then rise up again. This happened over and over. (This was several years before “Delta go ’round” in Dallas and what the aviation industry learned about wind shear.) There was bright lightening all around us.
People were screaming. I thought that for sure we were going to crash. I’m certain many others thought so too. I held hands with the people on my row. The man who sat in the window seat prayed aloud. I prayed silently; I determined that I was not afraid to die. I came to peace with it in those few minutes that seemed like forever.
The other day my sister was telling me for the first time about how the doctor told her he did not expect her to live through the night. She was OK with it. In the few minutes she had before he put her in a coma, she came to peace with it.
I told her about my perceived brush with death too, which she had not known about. We were talking about death because we are getting older and our mother is getting much older and we were pre-planning her funeral arrangements.
We discussed that we really love life and we don’t relish the idea of dying, especially because we want to be with the people we love. We feel like we still have tasks to accomplish on Earth. But when faced with death, we hope we’ll both be OK with it. Maybe we’ll be at peace with it as we were before. We have faith that we will.
Have you had a brush with death? Were you scared, or did you come to peace with it? Have you ever had a near death experience in which people claim to actually go toward a light or see a dead loved one, then come back to life? Was it a peaceful experience? I’d like to hear about your brushes with death or near death experiences.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)