copyright 2012, Aaron Paul Lazar
My wife almost died on New Years Eve.
I've been married to Dale for 30 years, and we've been together forever even before we were married. We've been soul mates from the beginning, and I can hardly remember a day when we weren't side by side.
Life has been good to us in multiple ways. We always loved horses, and before we had our children, we enjoyed many years of wonderful rides in the rolling hills of the Genesee Valley. We'd canter through the fields, the old canal path, and thrilled to the beauty of nature, frequently satisfying our primal urge to explore.
Our biggest blessing, however, was the gift of our three beautiful daughters. And now we've been equally blessed with four wonderful grandchildren.
But life has also been fraught with a fair share of challenges. One of these is Dale's MS. She was diagnosed in 1990, and has suffered a great deal in the past few decades.
On Christmas, 2011, I contracted the worst virus of my life. It was like a cold, but it also gave me fevers, chills, total exhaustion, and I ended up with bronchitis and a sinus infection. I missed the whole Christmas vacation, and ended up infecting Dale, whose lungs succumbed. It turned into pneumonia, and on New Year's Eve, right in the middle of the family dinner/game night, her breathing suddenly got terrible and we had to call the ambulance to bring her to the hospital.
In the ED she was diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis. She almost died that night. We had to make decisions about "do not resuscitate," and other horrible options.
But my dear survived, after many hours of worry. The next day, she was in the ICU. That evening she had a "dream" that felt so much more real than any dream she's ever had, we're calling it a vision. She can't stop talking about it.
Life for Dale in general was filled with suffering, and no matter what new meds we tried or what alternative solutions we went after, there seemed to be no solution to her symptoms. She's always believed in God and Heaven, but I knew she was feeling rather forsaken over the past decade.
She doesn't feel this way anymore...
During this startlingly real vision, Dale traveled through a dark tunnel. "It wasn't scary. It was peaceful and warm," she said. At the end of the tunnel, she was met by a brilliant, warm light. (I know, you've heard about this from others. Guess this is another confirmation that it really happens!)
"It was so overwhelming, I felt like I was being embraced by God, but it wasn't just an outward hug, his whole being went into mine, and I felt him become one with me. I couldn't see him, it was just pure, warm light. I felt so peaceful, more so than I ever have in life. I could see things clearly, not like in this life where all the colors are dull to me. The colors were brilliant, vivid, and beautiful. I felt like he enveloped me with his love, that his whole being came into mine, comforting me. I have never felt so wonderful in my entire life, and I didn't want to leave him, it felt so good."
She said at one point she got a glimpse of Hell, a dark and scary place. At first she was afraid she'd go there, but then she got her hug from God. She also glimpsed something incredibly beautiful on the sides of the light - she vaguely remembers colorful, riotous gardens.
This one amazing moment in her life -- something she's needed for a long time -- told her so much. "God is giving me strength to carry on. I felt him urging me to take care of myself, to do the right things for my body. And now I know that when this life is over, I will be with him. There's nothing to be afraid of now. We're preparing to join him in what will be our ultimate reward. It's so comforting, because you know what's there for you afterwards."
Dale is not a super religious person. She doesn't go to church. She doesn't read the Bible. She's pretty much isolated from society, due to her illness. But she's always lived her life with true Christian values. She shows great strength and compassion. She has amazing empathy for others, and she never asks for anything except lots of good books to read.
In the past few years, she's been horribly depressed, always asking, "why is this happening to me?" and never receiving any answers. She's also usually more of a skeptic than believer when it comes to miracles. But this experience changed her completely.
Now we both know - no matter what happens in this life, it's just the beginning, just the trial we endure before we reach our true life, the one where God holds us in his embrace, where beautiful gardens abound, and where we will feel the most wonderful, blossoming joy and happiness that it all will have been worth it.
I'll never forget the expression on Dale's face when she told me about this - she couldn't stop talking about it, she was enthused, inspired, her eyes alight. I've never seen her like this, and the strength and power of His message has stayed with her.
No, it wasn't a dream. It was so much more than that; it was a message from God.
"Hang in there," He told her. "You can do this. I am here for you."
She wants everyone to hear about her experience, and I'm happy to be her voice.
Heaven is real. God is waiting. And I, for one, am looking forward to it. Especially if those gardens don't grow weeds. ;o)