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Observations placeholder

Barrett, Marvin - Second Chance: A Life After death – An NDE from cardiac arrest



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Second Chance:  A Life After death – Marvin Barrett

ON THE AFTERNOON of March 4, 1984, in the cardiac care unit of St. Luke's Hospital in upper Manhattan two months short of my sixty-fourth birthday, I died.

I didn't at the time know that that's what I was doing.

However, a few days later my cardiologist, a no-nonsense fellow, with a half dozen young residents as witness, pointed to me in my hospital room and said , " On Sunday, that man was dead. Dead." He repeated it to make sure we got the message. I had been brought back by the wonders of modern medicine, a sharp blow to the chest, a couple of electric paddles applied to my pectorals.

In the journal I was keeping at the time, I described the experience:

"A green slope-not slippery, not furry-like sealskin-irregular but not bumpy, slipping but not grabbing to hold on. No panic-nothing disagreeable-the green very bright, like new grass. Not shale, no precipice. No one on the bank above cheering me on. Me alone; I am doing as I should. Letting go. Relaxed . . Lots of Light but not blinding . . . Then all of a sudden the delicious ride is over, the friendly green blinks out. The rattling and shaking, the dull roar, the low murmuring voices are back. I have returned."

If there was no tunnel with a light at the end, there was that seductive slope, smoother than those Olympic lugers plunge down, a free slide into the friendly unknown with Light all round. If there was no life review-the instant replay of sixty-three years, fast backward-I had had, as a cancer patient in the previous seven months, plenty of time to summon up my past in intimate, sometimes acutely uncomfortable, detail.

That I was out of the body-that body lying on its hospital bed, the oscillating line of the screen above it flat - of that there was no question. But I hadn't, like some, floated up to the ceiling to oversee my own resuscitation, nor gone through walls to eavesdrop on frightened relatives assembled in the corridor outside. There was only one frightened relative out there - my wife, Mary Ellin, who had delivered me via patrol car to the hospital emergency bay an hour before. There had been no time to notify any of our four children, or concerned in-laws and friends, who were under the impression that finally Marvin was in the clear - the offending stomach, seat of a lymphoma, successfully removed; the course of radiation concluded.

They had forgotten about my heart.

We had all forgotten about my heart in our fascination with my stomach. And now, as it turned out, the slighted organ had done me in.

Done in, but still in those absent seconds my perceptions were unquestionably sharpened; and all pain, mental, physical, spiritual, was a thing of the past. An indescribable peace that required no explanation or understanding possessed me.

And there was the Light.

The gentle intensity of that ambient Light, and the green of the slope-the combination one sometimes finds on a clear morning where fertile fields grow close to the sea, in the Low countries that my ancestors came from, on the south Fork of Long Island where we spend half of each year-it was the Light, and the peace accompanying it, that convinced me later, when I looked back, that I was indeed, for a brief interval, dead. Or if not completely dead, no longer conventionally alive; I was in another place, in another kind of time.

Nor had I quite made it back. Death, I told myself, when I was strong enough for such considerations, had deposited me on another shore, not the far shore from which there is no return, but the reef where old age begins. And the experience of death had made old age seem not a threat or a loss but a reprieve and a challenge.

The source of the experience

Barrett, Marvin Galbraith

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