The first thing I remember was the urgent sound of a woman's voice. "I'm not getting a pulse!" she said. "I'm not getting a pulse."
In fact, I said, I felt fine. Really good. Come to think of it, I'd never felt better, or more alive. I was healthy and whole, calm and together for the very first time in my life.
Though I still couldn't see, I could hear everything -- mostly the scramble of many voices talking all at once. It didn't bother me. I let it go. I let everything go.
My next awareness was of an entirely new environment. I knew I was not alone, but I still couldn't see clearly, because I was enveloped in a dense, dark gray fog. I felt a sense of expectancy, the same anticipation one feels when waiting for a plane to take off or arrive. It seemed natural and right to be here, and for me to wait as long as it took. Earthly time had no meaning for me anymore. There was no concept of 'before' or 'after.' Everything -- past, present, future -- existed simultaneously.
Suddenly, an enormous explosion erupted beneath me, an explosion of light rolling out to the farthest limits of my vision. I was in the center of the Light. It blew away everything, including the fog. It reached the ends of the universe, which I could see, and doubled back on itself in endless layers. I was watching eternity unfold.
The Light was brighter than hundreds of suns, but it did not hurt my eyes. I had never seen anything as luminous or as golden as this Light, and I immediately understood it was entirely composed of love, all directed at me. This wonderful, vibrant love was very personal, as you might describe secular love, but also sacred.
Though I had never seen God, I recognized this light as the Light of God. But even the word God seemed too small to describe the magnificence of that presence. I was with my Creator, in holy communication with that presence. The Light was directed at me and through me; it surrounded me and pierced me. It existed just for me.
The Light gave me knowledge, though I heard no words. We did not communicate in English or in any other language. This was discourse clearer and easier than the clumsy medium of language. It was something like understanding math or music - nonverbal knowledge, but knowledge no less profound. I was learning the answers to the eternal questions of life - questions so old we laugh them off as clichés.
Why are we here? "To learn."
What's the purpose of our life? "To love."
I felt as if I was re-remembering things I had once known but somehow forgotten, and it seemed incredible that I had not figured out these things before now.
Then this ecstasy of knowledge and awareness was interrupted. Again, without words, I learned that I had to return to my life on Earth.
I was appalled. Leave all this, leave God, go back to that old, oblivious existence? No way.
The girl who always did as she was told dug in her heels. But to no avail. I was going back. I knew it. I was already on the way. I was on a trajectory headed straight for my body.
That's when I saw my body for the first time, and when I realized I was no longer a part of it. Until this moment, I'd only seen myself straight on, as we usually do, in mirrors and photographs. Now I was jolted by the strange sight of me in profile from four feet away. I looked at my body, the body I knew so well, and was surprised by my detachment. I felt the same sort of gratitude toward my body that I had for my old winter coat when I put it away in the spring. It had served me well, but I no longer needed it. I had absolutely no attachment to it. Whatever constituted the self I knew as me was no longer there. My essence, my consciousness, my memories, my personality were outside, not in, that prison of flesh.