Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One time when I was dead. . .

Okay, Patti kicked my patootie about marketing on Monday. (Boy, was that alliterative!) So I'll be brave and direct you all to my latest newsletter that tells what one of my publishers is doing to promote my books, and how I'm trying to get the word out. Specifically, my non-fiction The Mormon Mirage is selling for $3.99 in the Kindle edition right now on Facebook. (And I'm sure the presidential debate tonight has nothing to do with it.)

So Patti, do I get a marketing star?

Meanwhile, I'd like to talk about near-death experiences. Had any of those?

Before I had grandchildren, I made friends with the children of some people at church. Both the mom and dad were nurses and one slept while the other worked, and vice versa. Since I lived out in the country and always kept classic toys on hand (you know, building blocks and interesting old toys, nothing electronic), the parents and I would arrange for me to come into town and get the kids for a day in the country when they had a break from school. We’d first go to a store and buy junk food for the day, and then we’d play games and enjoy the fresh air.

A hike and a picnic was always the highlight. One day the ten year old girl, the seven year old boy, and the littlest one, a boy of four and I were walking around on our property, examining lizards and speculating on mysterious piles of rocks and ominous-looking trees and circling hawks. That is, the two oldest and I were discussing things while the littlest one carried on a nonstop monologue about anything that entered his head—with the result that the rest of us began to ignore him.

He rambled almost without taking a breath, creating long narratives about superheroes and what had happened in Sunday School and football games and colors of jelly beans and commercials on TV and possible names for a possible dog and….

Only when we spread out our picnic lunch did he stop talking, just long enough to eat. But as soon as he could get words out from around his mouthful of sandwich, he began again.

“You know, one time when I was dead. . .” he began.

“You were DEAD?” His big sister was scornful. “Good grief, you were never dead!”

“Oh yes I was,” he said, and proceeded to tell another long episodic story.

I’ve never forgotten the ease at which he could create narratives. Being dead was no preclusion to a good story for him; in fact, it made it better.

I got to thinking about that. I’ve had a near-death experience myself. When I was eleven years old, I didn’t know how to swim and at a public pool stepped off into water that was over my head. I remember the agony of my lungs filling with water, the frantic attempts to get myself above the swirling water I was churning into foam with my arms, the panic, the loss of consciousness.

I awakened, vomiting, with a crowd of people around me and a young lifeguard with zinc oxide on his nose looking at me, a teenager who had apparently saved my life. I don’t know his name nor remember but one other thing about that remarkable day.

I arrived home and everything looked different. Jokes weren’t funny to me. The sky looked different. My parents – who did not know what had happened that day until decades later, looked different. (I didn’t tell them because I felt shame, as if I had somehow provoked my own drowning.) My homework looked different.

And most of all, water looked different to me. And still does. I live in a desert by heritage, and by choice.

How about you? Have you ever had a near death experience? Was there a time, once when you were dead?


Megan Sayer said...

Latayne I'm appear to have babysat my future children in your past! That's a nutshell, although they won't be 10, 7 and 4 until this time next year. Wow. And yes, my youngest has told me about when he was dead. He has regular yesterday/tomorrow issues (which would be consistent with his future self turning up in your past) too.
That has no relevance to anything (which I am sorry for, because your near-death experience was terribly interesting!) but I'm sure there's a story in there somewhere...

Patti Hill said...

5 marketing stars to you, Latayne!

As for a near death experience, no. But I experienced 15 months of unrelenting pain that a gazillion doctors and many rides on the MRI machine couldn't diagnose properly. I grieved the loss of my life even though I lived and breathed. I was flayed. There was nothing to offer God but my pain, so I imagined my pain as my body screaming love to Jesus. Doing that gave my pain value and me a purpose as I lay on the floor, listening to the people of television talking about pregnant chads. The result? I don't fear pain anymore. I don't like it, but I don't fear it. Also, I trust Jesus to get me through the darkness, and anything I do beyond laying on the floor is miraculous. Life is bigger and brighter. I'm sorry it took 15 months of pain to get me to this spot, but I also celebrate the gift of those months.

FYI: The source of the pain was a ruptured disk in my neck.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

I haven't experienced it, but a friend from church 'died' from a heart attack during surgery and was resuscitated. He watched them frantically working on him and he said (wistfully) that he felt complete and utter release from cares and pain. He didn't want to come back. I find that extremely comforting. My elderly father-in-law, minutes before death, had a look of rapture on his face and said, "Can't you hear that music?"

Kathleen Popa said...

Latayne, this was wonderful. And I'm glad the teenager with the white nose brought you back to us.

Cherry Odelberg said...

I can't say that I have ever been unconscious; but, I have had near death experiences emotionally and those are what good stories are made of-the learning how to resuscitate yourself.

Cherry Odelberg said...

P.S. - the newsletter link does not appear to be working. It keeps freezing up on me.

Latayne C Scott said...

Megan, I bet your little one is going to do great things, because he can believe....

Patti, what a devastating explanation of that kind of pain. I can't imagine, although I've witnessed horrific neurological pain in my husband's GBS experience. I am so sorry.

Debbie, I've had friends who had that same kind of joyous experience upon passing. Truly a lovely thing to see.

Kathleen, I am so grateful to the young man with the zinc oxide. I wish I knew who he was. I'd give him lotsa free books. :)

Cherry -- resuscitating onself. What a marvelous thought.

And sorry about the link. It's working for me-- could it be that your browser won't let you look at images?

Bonnie Grove said...

There are so many things I still can't talk about.

Thanks for this, Latayne.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I, too, drowned when I was young. I fell into a pool with all kinds of flippers and goggles and the like on and couldn't get back to the surface. A woman jumped in. All I saw were long legs. She got me out right before I passed out (stars had begun flashing in my mind). I don't jump into water and, in fact, depth of water scares me a little. This is a sad thing for a Michigander surrounded by lakes.

There was another time I was dead. But that's a little too hard to talk about outside the realm of fiction.

Amelia said...

I absolutely love to listen to children storytell! I have one who wakes up every morning and recalls these fabulous dreams that would make incredible novels. I love this little boy's story of when he was dead. Children know no limits to creativity. We bind ourselves up with too many rules. I've never had a near death experience. ((shiver)).

Anonymous said...

Bonnie and Suzie my heart broke when I read your comments. I know too well those un-talked-of stories, and there are tears in my eyes for the pain of you both.
Praying for you both today, that Jesus reaches out and hugs you.

Lynn Dean said...

I suppose I had a near-death experience, but I didn't think of it that way until you asked. Due to a freak accident while having our first child, I lost a great deal of blood. I remember feeling very cold and hearing the doctor say, "I'm losing them." Both he and my husband were crying, but I felt only mild surprise. I was sad for the baby, but not at all afraid for myself.

As it turned out, we both made it, but I think maybe when my number of days really IS exhausted, death will be not so much fearful as a natural passage--the next step.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

I have a neurological deficiency that causes my heart to slow down to the point that I faint and cannot regain consciousness. They take me to the hospital and pump me full of fluids and send me home. Thus far no diagnosis. I go for alternative medicine treatments that have all but cured me.
When this was new and frequent I asked God, if death threatened should I fight it or go peacefully. I don't know what prompted the question. The answer came back, Fight.
One night I did feel the veil approaching. It was peaceful and gentle. A character was near escorting me through the light. Then I remembered to fight and POW! the character was revealed. The Angel of Death really does disguise himself as Light. But the light turned to the most ghastly horror, worse than darkness. At gaining consciousness I was convulsing through my whole body. I went to the hospital but since I was awake during the convulsions they didn't know what to do with me.

Latayne C Scott said...

Susie, I knew when I met you that there were mutual secrets hiding in there. Not a bit surprised that you survived a drowning, and thank God you did. But you never, never forget that feeling.

You and Bonnie can plumb the depths of something without words, as Anonymous pointed out. I grieve for those deaths inside you.

Amelia, some advice: write down those cool stories your kids tell. You won't regret it-- and neither will they!

Lynn and Henrietta, what marvelous stories. All the more so because they are true! Goodness! So glad you are still here to tell the stories!

April Muegge said...


I can relate to your story about nearly drowning. When I was 9, my brother 7, and my sister 5 - we were left to swim in my aunt's pool along with our 15 year old mentally-retarded cousin, Larry. No adults were outside to supervise us even though Larry was large and played very rough.

At one point, Larry grabbed me and pushed me under the water in the deep end. I struggled but I couldn't get back to the surface and was sure I was going to die. Fortunately, another teenage cousin happened to go into the kitchen for some water and noticed what was going on in the pool and shouted for Larry to let me go. I came up spluttering and terrified.

To this day, I do not like being in water deeper than my neck and I do not enjoy being on boats.

Another deep fear I've had is of anesthesia because my mother made sure to tell me at a very young age that the kittens we regularly took to the Pound would be put to sleep and die. "Put to sleep" equaled death in my mind for many years. Then, I broke my ankle and it required surgery - I was deeply afraid but knew I had no choice. As I was wheeled into the operating room, I thought of Queen Esther and like her I said, "If I die, I die." For some reason, this calmed me and I've done fine in the several surgeries I've had since then.

Childhood perceptions and imaginations are very powerful and can reach far into adulthood.

Steve G said...

No near death experiences; parents and siblings all living; no broken bones, don't drink or smoke - overall quite healthy. But I am turning a half century in a few months, and that gets a person thinking about life lived and life to live.

If anything, death would be about regrets. Regrets not being around for certain people, especially those closest. Regrets about lack of influence in people's lives for more than just the temporal things.

I think Patti's story calls to us the best response - whatever we are going through or doing, give it to God as a sacrifice of praise and let Him work out the details.

Latayne C Scott said...

Ah, April, that is a powerful story about the near-drowning and also your fears about "being put to sleep." How powerful memories are! How powerful words are! Thank you for sharing that.

Steve, I remember turning 50 and thinking that my life was mostly ahead of me. May God give you hopefulness, lack of regrets, and many days.