Mom's Entry Into The Afterlife
Copyright: Bruce A. Moen, All Rights Reserved
It was late Thursday afternoon, the day before Halloween, October 30, 1997. I was at Rita's house, a friend, and we were planning to go to a pumpkin-carving party with some Virginia, countryside neighbors. The project that brought me to Virginia was keeping me very busy, and I looked forward to spending a little time with folks sipping hot apple cider, eating cookies and cakes, and showing off my legendary pumpkin carving skills. When the phone rang, I knew it was my sister, and that tracking me down couldn't have be easy. I knew her phone call didn't bode well.
In the few minutes we talked, Karen told me about Mom's accident earlier in the afternoon. Mom and Dad had been raking the leaves that pile up in Minnesota's fall. An undiagnosed aneurysm in her brain had burst. When it did, she'd fallen backwards, striking the back of her head on the edge of the concrete step at the back door of the house. The resulting skull fracture had pushed bone deep into her brain. Mom was going into surgery in a few minutes. CAT scans showed the resulting bleeding filled a third of her skull, compressing and distorting her brain. If they could stop the bleeding, she might survive. My sister is a nurse. The tone of her voice held out that
sound of hope nurses use that is hollow and empty. The way your voice sounds when deep inside you no there is no hope, but you're hanging on to hope anyway. Karen said they'd know more about Mom's prognosis after surgery. She might hang on for days or weeks, or she could die much sooner. They would know more after the surgery, and she'd call me as soon as she had any news. I
gave my sister all the phone numbers where she could reach me in the next few hours. As soon as I hung up, I closed my eyes, relaxed, and checked in on Mom.
She was surrounded by blackness, very agitated, frantic describes it best. Impressions of her standing, turning around, shaking her arms and hands came through to me. Mom didn't know where she was or why she was there. Not knowing upset her greatly. It took several seconds before I could get her attention. Calling her name, I felt her turn toward me, her eyes open wide, with a look of overwhelming confusion and panic.
"Bruce, is that you?" Mom said.
"Yes, it's me!"
She turned away again, arms flailing in the dark. Panicked. At least another fifteen seconds went by before calling her name got her attention again, but the result was the same. For a brief moment she was aware of my presence, then she was back in a panic attack again. I pulled out of my check-in for a few minutes and explained to Rita what was going on. Then I turned my attention back to my mother, trying to get through to her. Over the next several minutes, I had brief, fleeting contact with Mom several times. I kept trying to hold her attention longer each time to break into the cycle of panic she was in, but made little progress.
"Mom, you've had an accident, you're in a hospital," I shouted, each time I could get her attention. Sometimes she'd acknowledge me for a moment, like she understood what I told her, but then she'd turn around, eyes open wide in panic, arms flailing in the blackness.
"Is there someone else here who can help me get through to my mother?" I asked, into the empty blackness. An image of Winnie, my mother's mother who died a couple of years ago formed in my mind, off to my right.
"Grandma, I can't get her attention long enough to help her calm down," I pleaded. "Should I push my way into her consciousness, take over and tell her she's probably dying? I know I can drag her into awareness of your presence, and take her to 27, but I don't know if I should?"
"I suggest you be a little more gentle and roundabout than you usually are," she told me.
"But it looks like she's in such a panic, it hurts to watch her suffer like that," I replied.
"Gently, Bruce, Gently," Grandma said.
I turned back to Mom, just watching her, waiting for an opening to approach her. Then I saw something happen I've never seen before. While my mother remained standing, raging in panic against the surrounding blackness, a younger version of her stepped out of her adult body. From pictures I'd seen of her in her youth, I recognized this young girl as my mother when she was perhaps thirteen or fourteen years old. Long, dark hair framed her young, English-girl-pretty face. The young girl turned around and saw Winnie, who'd
transformed herself to look like she did when my mother was that young girl. She ran to Winnie, laying down with her head in her mother's lap.
"There, there, dear, everything will be all right," I heard Grandma say, as she gently stroked my mother's/young girl's hair. Mom, as the young girl, laid there sobbing, consoled by Winnie's soothing voice. I could still see both versions of Mom, the adult, raging and flailing, and the young girl reunited with the mother of her childhood, as I pulled out of contact. Emotion overtook me. I had to back out.
Rita and I left for the pumpkin carving party later on, and I busied myself with what was supposed to be fun. By then most people at the party knew about Mom's accident and extended comfort as they could. When the party was over, I headed back to my temporary home in Virginia and checked in on Mom again before falling asleep. She was still very agitated, and I could only make brief contact, each time explaining her situation to her as best I could. I awoke to a ringing phone at 4:00 AM. After surgery the bleeding had started again and things were looking pretty hopeless. Karen explained that the family was to meet with doctors in four hours to discuss removal of the ventilator. Mom hadn't regained consciousness since the accident. The doctors didn't know if she'd die immediately after the ventilator was removed, on stabilize in a coma that might last for an indefinite period of time.
"If they recommend removing the ventilator, is that okay with you?" Karen asked.
"Yes, of course," I replied. "I doesn't sound like there's anything better to hope for than a long coma, and I know Mom wouldn't want that." Before I hung up, my sister told me I should seriously consider getting on the next plane to Minneapolis. That flight was scheduled to leave Charlottesville around 8:00 AM and arrive, after a changeover in Pittsburgh, around 1:30 in the afternoon. Checking on Mom, she seemed a little calmer for short periods of time, not so much panicky as confused. Again, each time I could get her attention I explained about her accident and the hospital. She seemed to understand me, but she still railed against the surrounding blackness. I waited until six in the morning to call a friend for a ride to the airport.
While driving my Jeep over to get a ride to the Charlottesville airport I checked in on Mom again. I was surprised! She was bright, alert and fully aware of what had happened. She knew her physical body wasn't going to survive the double whammy of the burst aneurysm and fractured skull. She was okay with it, almost happy.
"Look, Mom," I said to her in my mind, "I'm still in Virginia and it's going to take several hours before I can get to the hospital there in Minneapolis. If you need to leave before I get there, it's okay with me."
"No, Bruce," she replied, "I'm not suffering any pain and there are a couple of things I need to do before I leave. I'll wait until you get to the hospital before I leave."
The ride to the airport and flight to Minneapolis seemed to take quite a while. After several phone calls I reached my sister at the hospital and my niece, Amy, volunteered to pick me up and bring me there from the airport. Twenty or thirty minutes later we were in her car and searching the hospital parking ramp for a space to leave the car. After going to the room Mom was supposed to be in, a nurse directed us to the ICU on another floor.
"She's leaving, she's leaving!" I could hear my sister's voice shouting, as I walked through the doorway and into the room. Vital signs on the monitor she was hooked up to we're flat-lining. "I know she heard me, I just know she heard me," my sister's voice wailed.
"Say good-bye to your mother," my father said, through a voice cracking in grief as I hugged him.
True to her word earlier that morning, she'd waited until I got to her room before she left. I sat down in a chair next to her bed, closed my eyes and felt my mother there. We said our good-byes and I love yous. Then she withdrew from the room in a cloud of yellow-white light, through the wall, near the ceiling, at the foot of her bed. I opened my eyes to a room filled with shocked and grieving family and friends. Emotion overtook us all. Mom didn't look at all like the last time I'd seen her, her head bandaged, face swollen to twice its normal size. She laid there absolutely still, getting colder as time passed, nothing radiating outward, just an empty body. The nurse was careful to let us know we had all the time we wanted to be with Mom's body. My brother-in-law, Karen's husband, a mortician, gathered information for the obituary to make certain the it would get to the newspaper in time to reach out state friends of the family in time for the funeral. What a together guy.
Over my sister's objections, Dad drove back to his house from the hospital, to keep busy so he wouldn't think too much about what had just happened, he said. We spent hours talking and crying and talking and crying. We rummaged through bills scattered on the kitchen table, looking for ones that had to be paid soon. Mom had always handled the checkbook. We called friends of the family who'd want to be notified so they could attend the funeral on Tuesday. We busied ourselves between tears and Kleenex. Dad kept asking, why? Why became apparent in the hours we talked over the next few days.
Mom's health had been poor for years, and for the last several she was in constant pain. Poor circulation, arthritis, hip joints and knees that screamed in pain with every step. Open heart surgery less than a year earlier and many other surgeries had left her body a painful prison. The latest problem to surface was constriction of the arteries in her neck. She'd been scheduled for surgery to try to open them up the day she died. Doctors told her it was better then fifty-fifty that she'd suffer a stroke on the table, but doing nothing would mean a certain stroke, and very soon. She never told any of her family about these things until after they were over, so I wouldn't have known until a call from my dad or sister came. That call would have come Saturday morning, probably to tell me she'd had a stroke in surgery and was in a coma. Mom's accident saw to it that didn't happen. I'm sure she never consciously planned her "accident," but if she had she couldn't have planned it better.
Thick, wet leaves covering a lawn in Minnesota can damage it if they aren't raked up before they're blanketed by winter's snow. Neither of my parents were healthy enough to take on such a job, but that never stopped them before. Dad had walked around the corner of the house to tell Mom to go in and rest for a while. She'd told him, "We're going to get this yard cleaned up today if it kills me." He'd turned and just made it past the corner of the house when he heard what sounded like someone had dropped a pumpkin on a concrete sidewalk behind him. It was the sound Mom's head made when the aneurysm had burst, she'd lost her balance, and fell backwards, fracturing her skull on the edge of the concrete step. Doctors later told us if she'd fallen on the grass, or been sitting in a chair when the aneurysm blew, she would have survived; in a coma perhaps for months until the end, but she would have survived. Somehow, some part of Mom, I believe, had made sure she was standing in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Dad said she was conscious for maybe ten minutes at the most and wasn't in pain. She couldn't move and didn't understand what had happened. Before paramedics got there she was unconscious and never regained physical consciousness before she died. Sure feels like one of those "planned accidents." Like a greater part of herself had decided she had no more cards to play and it was time to leave the game.
In our tearful ramblings, Dad told me that in a private moment, alone in the hospital, he'd told my unconscious mother over and over that he loved her. He said looked over at her and thought he saw her head moving ever so slightly. Like she was nodding, acknowledging his words. He wanted to believe she'd heard him, that it wasn't just some muscle twitch people in comas sometimes have.
We had dinner at my sister's that night. Over cigarettes out on the porch she told me what happened moments before I entered Mom's room in the hospital. Mom and my sister had difficulties with each other throughout their lives at times. All the vital sign traces on the hospital monitor had plunged toward flat-line before, for the first time in Karen's forty odd years, she said, "Mom I love you and I forgive you." The vital sign traces had jumped back up, all to their normal ranges, and stayed for almost a minute. Then, as I had entered the room, they flat-lined for the second and last time, and then Mom was gone. Karen wanted to believe Mom had heard her words of love and forgiveness. She hoped the vital signs coming back had been Mom's way of acknowledging she'd heard them, but had no real way to know.
Off and on I checked in on Mom, nonphysically for the next two days. By Sunday she was feeling much better, most of the pain she'd lived with for years was gone. Monday was the first day I couldn't find her when I went looking for her. Instead I was met by Winnie, Mom's mom, who said, "You can't see her right now dear, you know where she is and what she's doing. You've visited there several times."
Grandma was referring to the Health and Rejuvenation Center in Focus 27, the label used to describe a place I've explored in the Afterlife, several times, as Winnie had said. It's a place where Helpers assist new arrivals to make adjustments to their new way of life. Part of that adjustment involves unlearning habits picked up during physical life and carried into the Afterlife, habits like pain. Dealing with chronic pain can become a habit, something that becomes so ingrained in our consciousness that we expect it will always be there. It becomes part of who and what we think we are and it can persist in our Afterlife existence. But there is no physical body anymore in
the Afterlife, no "organic" reason for the pain some people there continue to experience. There's just the habitual pattern of it in the person's consciousness, and the Health and Rejuvenation Center is a place where Helpers assist new arrivals in unlearning such habits. I was out of touch with Mom until several days after I returned to Virginia.
After the funeral, I stayed on until Thursday, one week after Mom's "accident" brought me to Minnesota. I stayed with Dad the whole time ,and we worked through our grief together. I stayed as long as I could, and then it was back to Virginia to work.
It was the following Sunday morning, over coffee and a cigarette out on the porch, that Mom popped in to visit. Hadn't seen her for a full week. She felt happy and smiling and wanted me to do her a favor.
"Call your sister and father today. Tell your father when I nodded my head it wasn't any muscle twitch. I couldn't do much with my physical body at that point, but I could just get my head to nod, "Yes" a little. You let him know I heard him and I love him. Bruce, this was one of the things I told you I needed to do before I left, when I talked to you in your Jeep."
"Okay Mom, I'll call him," I replied.
"And call your sister. Tell her I just couldn't keep my body going any more. I waited as long as I could for the other thing I had to stick around for, her voice her forgiveness and love. By that time, all I could do was slip back into my body long enough to bring the vital signs back up for a little while. It was the only way I could communicate with her, to acknowledge I heard her."
"Okay Mom, I'll call Karen and give her your message," I thought back to her. I started trying to verbalize in my mind what I felt Mom was saying to me after that. It just got in the way so I stopped and just opened my awareness to whatever came in. Mom smiled and showed me some of what she'd already learned in her new home. She flew around in big figure-eights. She landed and disappeared for moment, then reappeared as multicolored a ball of light. I told her how proud of her I was and that I loved her. Later that day I called Dad and my sister to relay her messages to them. We've visited from time to time since.
A couple of weeks after Mom's "message visit" I called my sister to chat and got a surprise. She related a dream she said was too real to be a dream. In the dream she'd awakened in bed to a knock at the door downstairs. By the light in the room she figured it must be sometime in the afternoon. She thought is was strange that she could feel the bedroom carpeting under her feet in what she knew was a dream. Walking through the hall and down the stairs she'd marveled that everything in this dream house looked exactly like her "real" house. She could feel as the surface under her feet changed from carpet to tile in the kitchen. When she finally got to the door to see who was knocking, at first she thought it looked like Mom. But there was something in front of her, partially blocking her view, something she had to look through to see for sure. When she looked through whatever it was she saw Mom's smiling face beaming at her. And Grandma Winnie was there too, standing to the left and slightly behind Mom. Karen opened the door and, seeing Mom and Grandma in full view, the shock of the reality that this wasn't a dream, it was really Mom, hit her full force. With that sudden, shocking realization the door slammed shut. Upset she'd let the shock of seeing Mom overcome her, Karen berated herself for a moment before opening the door again. Mom and Grandma, beaming smiles, faded from view as day turned to night before her eyes. In a moment she was staring into blackness wishing she knew how to bring Mom back or go out and find her. After a while, dejected, she closed the door and walked back through the house, up the stairs and into her bedroom. She laid back down and in her "dream" went back to sleep.
When she awoke physically, her dream was vividly remembered, she "just knew" Mom had actually visited during the night. There was no question in her mind that Mom and Grandma had come to her. When she went to the door she had nonphysically walked to and seen them, she realized what had been partially blocking her view. Our mother enjoyed craft projects. She sold mop dolls and
bunnies she made by the dozens, along with angels like the one hanging in the door's window! Karen had seen Mom, during her first OOBE, through openings in an angel Mom had given her. I really like Mom's choice of doors to knock on for her first visit! Before I hung up I urged Karen to share her story with Dad.
When I talked to Dad a couple of days later, what he told me indicated Mom had visited him too. He awakened in the night and saw something hovering over him, a few feet in the air. He said it looked a lot like Casper the Friendly Ghost, the one in the cartoons. Not knowing what it was, he became frightened and pulled the covers over his head like a kid, he said. It was Mom, trying to reach him, trying to let him know she was all right.
A week later Mom popped in again, with another favor to ask. "Call your sister and dad and tell them it was really me. There's so much I want to tell them about what it's like here and how I'm doing. I owe both of them a phone call.
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