Blessing in Disguise: Another Side of the Near Death Experience
By Barbara Rommer
“Tony said: ‘I was in the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It had a pure, pleasant, fresh, clean smell. I was pain free and totally happy. There were beautiful flowers of vibrant, vivid soft colors. A stream of crystal clear water was flowing down the mountain, the top of which protruded into the clouds.
“Tony felt that it was Saint Peter and four other robed people who escorted him up that mountain. When he stumbled several times, Saint Peter asked him: ‘ Do you have a problem? You keep hesitating. Would you like to go back?’
“Tony answered: ‘Yes,” because his wife, Pat, and his family needed him. Saint Peter told him that he might go back, but the he would be returning on a specific date. He was also told of a mission that he was to accomplish.
“He would never tell Pat either the projected date of his return or about his mission. Two-and-a-half years later, on August 29, Tony went into spirit. Two years after that, Pat was finally cleaning out his drawers. She found a small piece of paper, tucked in the back, with Tony’s handwriting. It said: ‘Return date; August 29.”
Excerpt (beginning at 2:55):
“I found myself sitting up in this big ball of light. The room was nothing but light, bright light. I was shown things and taken on a journey. Now whether the whole thing was a product of my illness and imagination or delusion, well, that could be one argument, except for one thing: everything I was shown, and everything that I learned, actually transpired 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, even 50 years plus later. In fact, I was shown a whole panorama of the major events in my life up to the age 59. It only went to age 59. Where I was living, who I was going to marry, the Vietnam war. The whole thing unfolded. And it was unfolded with such love, and compassion. It was letting me know that there was pain, there was suffering, there were things ahead, but in the end, I would get through these things.
“Now the only thing I didn’t understand about this experience was I kept seeing in this light these two numbers. They were either two numbers or a number. I kept seeing 29 and then the 2 would flip over and look like a 5 so it was 29 and 59. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be dead at 29 or dead at 59 or what that meant…
“I came away with a sense of what my dharma was going to be and what my purpose was. At eight years old, that’s a pretty heavy thing… I came away with the sense that no matter what I was loved, I was embraced. And there were people… there was intelligent force that was looking after me and I felt like it wasn’t just one, but it was multiple. I felt that same force, that same energy when I was in Vietnam and other times in my life when I really needed protection. It was there for me. So I saw the house I was going to move into and the woman I was going to marry, which turned out exactly true, right on…
“So I went through my life wondering what this 29, 59 thing was all about. When I went to India, I had a major heart attack and fell off a 50 foot cliff… When I came back [to the states], I went to an American doctor, a heart doctor, and I went, “What’s going on? I’ve got all these problems with my heart and I spent 50 years as a vegetarian. 3 or 4 years as a vegan. I meditate every day. I don’t drink alcohol of any kind. I don’t smoke. I don’t do any drugs or dope. I get good sleep. I exercise.”
“He looked at me and he said, ‘Well, in your case, if you hadn’t been doing all that all these last decades, you would have been dead at 29 instead of looking to have a heart operation just before you’re 59.’
“So then it dawned on me that the 29 and 59; here he’s telling me that I should have been dead at 29 based on my genetics and I’m lucky to make it to 59. I put it together. I’m in my early 70’s and reflecting back on that, I totally understand what he was saying.
“Sometimes, you have to go through things in your life — suffering, pain, all kinds of things — but, in the end, there’s always something that’s wrapped up in that as a gift; there’s always a lesson, the beauty of it.
“All that I’ve been through has taught me compassion, taught me love for others, it’s taught me respect for God, for life, for other people. I realize that I’m loved. And not just by fellow people because I don’t know how many people actually love me, but I’m loved at a deeper level.
“I try telling those people out there that are fed up with everything, when I counsel people on the suicide hotline, or veterans, you’ve got to look at this thing at the bigger, broader, universal vision. You are loved. More than you’ll ever realize. And when you have a near-death-like experience, or a near-death experience, that’s the one aspect of it — you may forget about everything else; you may not understand anything else — but that’s the one thing you do understand; it’s the one thing that you do remember; it’s the one thing that keeps you motivated for the rest of your life. You know you are loved. Because you are loved beyond any capacity that any person can give you. Trust me on that. We are all loved.”
“How did you love?”
“What did you do to help others?”
“I was shown that we were at a crossroads. I experienced this in 1968. I was told there would be an unemployment growth that would spread across the globe. Everything was flourishing at the time. I was told about a plague that would spread all over the world. And I was shown everything that could happen on Earth if we didn’t change — and this ‘if” is of critical importance. It’s our piece of freedom in a way. I was shown that things are unfortunately happening these days, as earthquakes, environmental issues, tsunamis, etc. But what I saw, and what worries me the most, is the emergence of unbelievable violence. This violence scared me. We are all somehow responsible for it.
“There I saw what my life would be, when I come back, between the moment when I come back, and the moment when I finally leave. I would be put on many trials and suffering. I saw myself crying many times. I asked myself: ‘What have I done to God to deserve all these trials and sufferings?’ I was told that before I was born, I had accepted all of this because through them I would grow. There was some selfish part of me which made me ask: ‘May I be given in one life what I have to live in other lives on this Earth?’ because for me the Earth is a real hell and I did not want to come back. I was told that they could not give me more (weight) than my shoulders could carry.”
The Scenes from His Near-Death Experience
After an injury in battle, he heard and saw images from his life — including one of his future family.
By Bud Evans
Hawija, Iraq. June 2004. Clack! Clack! Clack!
Bullets whizzed by. Everyone ran for cover. The gunfire had come out of nowhere. I ducked behind a concrete wall and looked for the rest of my unit. They were more than 45 feet away, too far for me to get to. “Hold position!” my sergeant yelled over the gunfire.
We were in a bad spot. We needed backup and couldn’t move until another unit got to us. I took a deep breath and reloaded my gun.
The ground exploded, shrapnel blasting through the air. Pain seared through my side. I was flat on my back. Was I hit? Breathing fast, I ripped open my body armor and stuck my hand inside. When I pulled it out, it was covered in blood.
I lay there, helpless and alone, as bullets ricocheted around me. Rockets shrieked overhead. I clenched my teeth, bracing against the pain. My breaths came in ragged gasps. Suddenly, there were hands on me, dragging me. One of my fellow soldiers had managed to get to me. He pulled me to a spot with more cover and yelled for a medic.
“Everything’s going to be okay, Evans,” he said. “We’ve got you.” His words came to me through a fog.
I fought to keep my eyes open. I struggled to breathe. The medic applied pressure to my side to stop the bleeding. “You have to stay awake,” he said. Still, I felt myself drifting. “Stay with us, Evans.”
Everything went black.
I woke up in another place. It felt as if I were underwater, but I wasn’t holding my breath. Everything was cool. There was no pain. I felt weightless, drifting through this space, so different from the hot, dry Iraqi desert. Where am I? I looked up. Light rippled down, refracted beams from the surface reaching past me. Though I didn’t know what was beyond it, I was overcome with the urge to reach it. I kicked my legs and paddled with my arms. I floated up with ease, as if propelled by an unseen force.
I’m dying. I was not afraid. In fact, I felt more at peace than I ever had before. My life leading up to my military career had been hard. My parents were addicts. My father was abusive; my mother, neglectful. I’d fought against the odds to avoid ending up like them. I struggled to pass my classes in high school and to drown out the criticism from peers — that I was too dumb to make a career in the military. Right out of high school, I’d completed basic training and gotten my orders for a one-year tour in Iraq. I felt meant for the job. Combat was nothing new; I’d been fighting my whole life.
Now I felt total surrender. My struggles were over. If this was death, then I was willing to accept it. I’d signed up for the military knowing that this could be my fate. I was okay with it. Then something caught my eye.
An image appeared before me as if projected on glass. It was my mother on the day I was born. She held me close, something I never remembered her doing when I was a little kid. Still, I felt comfort in that moment. Then another image appeared. This time, it was something that didn’t happen: my mother giving me up for adoption. I saw myself being taken away from her. What is this? It took me a moment to understand. This was what could have happened. This was the avenue my life didn’t take.
I swam higher. More images appeared. I saw when my mother finally left my father and he was out of our lives for good. I saw the day she married my stepfather and started to pull our lives together. I saw the day I enlisted in the military. I saw my grandfather, a veteran, telling me he was proud of me. Important moments that made me who I am.
With each image, I went back to the emotional place I’d been in as I lived them. Pain. Relief. Fear. Expectation. And with each scene came a counterscene, images of what could’ve happened if different choices had been made. If my mother had never left my father and he remained a toxic presence my life. If I hadn’t joined the military. I shuddered when I saw I could have ended up either dead or in jail if I hadn’t enlisted. I knew that I was meant to understand that my life had direction and that each step along the way had been shaped by the choices made.
Now I was close to the surface. I heard something.
“I love you, Babe.”
“We love you, Daddy.”
I stopped swimming. I couldn’t see anything. No images anymore, just voices. Somehow I understood that these were the voices of my wife and children. But how was that possible? I was 19, far from fatherhood. I didn’t even have a girlfriend. Yet I was absolutely certain. My wife’s voice was filled with warmth and patience. The voices of my children — a girl and a boy — were sweet and trusting. I felt wrapped in the most incredible love. It was intense, as if all the love I’d feel for my future family was concentrated into this one moment. This role — of being someone’s husband, someone’s father — just felt right.
In that moment, something changed. I was no longer complacent about dying. I wanted to experience this love. I wanted to see my wife’s face and hug my kids. I made the choice: I was going to live.
At that instant, I became acutely aware of crushing pressure. My body ached. My lungs burned for air. I started fighting to get to the surface, to breathe. It was the way back to life. I kicked my legs as hard as I could. My arms raked at the water in desperation. I wanted to stop, to rest, but I knew I couldn’t. Keep going, I thought. For them.
My hand broke through the surface, but I couldn’t push myself any higher. I sank down, past all the images I had passed on the way up. The surface faded away. I was sinking into darkness. Then the water whooshed downward in a whirlpool, as if someone had pulled a plug. It swirled around me and out an unseen drain.
“EVANS, YOU HAVE TO WAKE UP!”
I sucked in a huge gasp of hot desert air.
“Stay with us!” Hands slapped my face. My eyes shot open. The medic and the other soldier were leaning over me. I was still on the ground where I had lost consciousness. The medic had just drained the blood from my lungs. I could breathe again. I was alive — for now. I could hear a helicopter overhead. I was getting out of there. I grabbed hold of the medic’s shoulder and clung for dear life as I began my transport to the nearest medical base.
The road to recovery was long and difficult. I was stuck in bed for months. The doctors warned me I might be medically discharged. The idea of a future family, the reason why I’d wanted to live, felt unattainable without a career. I wondered if what I experienced was real or just some product of my oxygen-deprived brain. I fell into a deep depression.
Then my mom and stepdad introduced me to their friend’s daughter, Jen. She had offered to chat with me after hearing that I was going through a hard time, and my mom thought speaking with someone my own age might help cheer me up.
What began as a once-a-week phone call with Jen turned into talking every day. She was an incredible woman. She was so full of patience and hope and faith. She told me about her life, how she was in school to become a teacher. Over time, I opened up to her too. With Jen’s encouragement, I made a full recovery. But I decided not to reenlist in the military. I knew the path my life needed to take, and I knew with absolute certainty who would share that path with me.
Jen and I just celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary. We have two children—a girl and a boy. And when they say, “We love you, Daddy,” their voices are more familiar to me than anyone will ever know.
We saw that the sparkling lights were tiny, transparent bubbles that drifted in the air and sparkled on the grass. We realized that each tiny sparkle was a soul. To me, the valley appeared to be Heaven, but at the same time I knew that James and Rashad were seeing it differently. James saw it as the Gulf of Souls. Rashad saw it as Nirvana, and somehow we knew all this without speaking. The light began gathering at the far end of the valley, and slowly, out of the mist, a pure white being began to materialize. I saw an angel with a strong, bright face, but not like you’d usually imagine. She was closer to a strong, Viking Valkyrie. I knew she was the special angel that watches over the women of my family, and I perceived her name to be Hellena. James saw this same being as his late father, a career Naval officer, in a white dress uniform. Rashad perceived the being to be the Enlightened One, or Buddha.
The being spoke first to Rashad and welcomed him. He said that Rashad’s time on Earth was done. He was worthy now of Nirvana. Rashad asked why James and I were there and was told that we were part of the reason why he was worthy of Nirvana. His two great friends loved him so much that they had willingly accompanied him on his last journey. At the same time, however, James received a different message. He had been worried about what his father would think about his anti-war protest activities, and his father told him he was proud of him for standing up for what he believed. He knew he was not a coward because a coward would not have made this journey with Rashad. I received yet another message in which Hellena told me she was glad I had remembered the example of strength, honesty, wisdom, and loyalty taught to me by my family.
We spent what seemed like an eternity in this place as we talked to our separate, yet joined, entities. They said they appeared to us in this way because back in the real world we were physically joined when the lightning struck us. They said it also symbolized the joining of all religions and doctrines. They said I would live to see a new age of tolerance, that the souls and hearts of humanity would be joined as the three of us were.
The guides taught us that doctrine and creed and race meant nothing. No matter what we believed we were all children joined under one God, and that the only rule was God’s true law — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We should treat all people as if they were a part of our soul because they were. All living things in the universe were connected to one another. They said that soon humanity would mature enough to assume a higher place in the universal scheme of things, but until then we must learn acceptance and tolerance and love for each other. They said there would come a new age when people would not be able to endure seeing others homeless and hungry. We would realize that only by helping each other could we truly help ourselves.
Eventually we were told that it was time to go. We would not be allowed to stay longer because it was not yet time for me or for James, only for Rashad. The enlightened one told Rashad he would have a little time before he returned to take care of his worldly affairs. James’ father told him he would return to this place soon after Rashad, but the two of them had to go back for now so that I could. I said I would willing stay here in this valley with them, but Hellena told me that I had not fulfilled my destiny; that I had children yet unborn.
We drifted slowly toward the archway. The pull became stronger and we were literally thrown back into the world. We floated for a while there, hovering above our bodies. Some of my cousins had been in the next field and had seen what had happened. We saw them all come running to where we lay. James and Rashad’s hands were still stuck to my arms. We saw my cousins pry their fingers loose so they could turn Rashad over to help him.
When our hands were pried loose, James and I re-entered our bodies. We felt as if we were on fire, but it turned out that we had only minor injuries. Rashad, it seemed, being on the end, had taken most of the charge. The doctors said that the lightning had caused damage to his heart, lungs, and liver. He remained in the hospital for several weeks. During that time, tests revealed that James had a brain tumor that would eventually claim his life.
As soon as Rashad could travel, James took him home to India. He offered to stay, but Rashad told him that he wished solitude for his final time. Rashad took on the life of the Ascetic, in the Vedic tradition. He asked his wife to stay with her family because he wanted his last days to be spent in spiritual awakenings. About a year and a half later, on a cold day in January, Rashad returned to Nirvana. James and I knew when his soul left the world without being told.
James lived about three years after he found out he had the brain tumor. He gave most of his considerable inheritance to a charity that educated young people in India. I, on the other hand, have survived for another thirty years (so far) with the knowledge that this experience which I shared with my closest friends has been a guiding force in my life. I strive every day to meet my destiny, whatever it may be, with the same quiet dignity and resolution they showed when they met theirs. They have truly been my pathfinders, and I know that the connection I shared with them so long ago is the same connection we all share. We just sometimes fail to realize it.