I was in London when I received the email from my mother that my grandmother had stopped breathing and upon being resuscitated, was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. After later clearing up the facts with my mom, I discovered that it was Jerry who was able to revive her. And for a moment, she had stopped breathing. She had died.
I called her in the hospital a few days later. I knew that she was recovering and was looking forward to letting her know that she was in my thoughts. But more than anything I wanted to ask her what it was like to die. I wanted to know what she saw, if she saw anything. There are always stories of what people see in those moments in death before they are brought back by machines, by the grace of God. And I wanted to know if they were true.
But I didn’t feel I could just blurt out, “Hi Grandma, glad you are ok, so how was death?” Maybe if I had been ten. But this was not the case. As an adult, you are always concerned about the tact of things. And of course the feeling and emotions invoked by the things you say. She could read my mind though and minutes after we first began to speak, she told me what happened when she stopped breathing. She remembers a white room with a hallway and a bright light. She was very scared. And then, she saw my brother Jake standing over her, and she had been ‘brought back’ and was breathing again. She remembers nothing of passing out, of the moment she stopped breathing, or the moments Jerry pushed against her chest and breathed life back into her. She doesn’t remember the ambulance and the paramedics shoving a tube down her throat to clear the passage way for air. It was the white room, with the white light and a long hallway. And then my brother.
How about that.
My grandmother is doing well now. She’s back at home. She looking forward to Ali’s and my arrival for Christmas, already discussing all the traditions we have to get out of the “Christmas Box.” I’m thankful for the time I had with her and my grandfather this summer. And she said the same. “It was like getting to know each other all over again.”