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Current Update as of September 13, 2003

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Rising of the Phoenix

Rising of the Phoenix

Sandra K. Heggen,
Atlantic University

In my 50th year, I died. Oh, there was no traveling through a tunnel, no bright white light, no floating above my body, none of the fun stuff. At least, I donít remember any of this sort of thing. But I donít remember dying, either. So, you wonder, how do I know I died? Well, I sort of figured it out later. Then, you ask, how did you get to your death scene?

Weíll have to go back a ways, nearly 15 years before my death. Iíd always taken my physical health and strength for granted. Then I got this idea into my head that I needed to shape up. I started a program of running, eventually competing in marathons as well as a lot of shorter races. I consulted with experts on diet and complementary types of exercises like strength training. I did all the things weíre told we should do: I was de-fatted, de-salted, de-sugared, and de-caffeinated. I even meditated. I did this along with my job as a medical technologist, and I attended part-time university classes and participated in a navy reserve unit. For a time all seemed just fine. Well, I was young and strong so why shouldnít I be able to do it all?

After a while I noticed that the usual aches after running no longer went away, even after a good nightís sleep. Then I realized that I rarely accomplished a good nightís sleep any more. I would wake in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep. My weight started creeping up in spite of my diet and intense exercise. Achy stiffness inexorably spread from my legs and lower back to the rest of my body. Now it was with me all day, every day, and it got more intense over the years. I developed an increasing fatigue that lingered even after weeks of vacations. But I was strong and healthy, right? Because I was doing all the right things. All I had to do was cut back a bit on my activity and give my body a chance to recover, right? Well, I guess I was wrong.

As well, I experienced a bunch of stresses during this time. There was major surgery, several personal losses by deaths, increasing job pressures, then a job promotion and helping to prepare my reserve unit for deployment during Desert Storm. After about 10 years of increasingly futile struggle, it all culminated in a major crash-and-burn, a total physical, mental and emotional collapse. I had to take early retirement on disability. Exhausted, I simply sat in my recliner all day, in constant pain all over, unable to think a clear thought, emotionally distraught because I didnít know what was happening to me and why. How could I have been so betrayed? And by whom? Iíd done all the right things, hadnít I?

Thatís when I died. I think. One clear memory I have is of sitting in my recliner, head back, eyes closed and actually saying aloud, even though nobody else was in the house, "I canít do this any more!" As near as I can tell, nothing happened, but I could be wrong. Again.

Conventional medicine and psychotherapy hadnít been able to help or even tell me what was wrong so eventually I began voracious reading about natural and spiritual healing methods. I was starving for spiritual knowledge without even realizing Iíd been hungry. I got involved in a Search for God group for a while, and I also investigated psychics and other intuitive methods. My intellectual stance took a sharp turn from the analytical, left-brained stuff Iíd been so good at for so long.

Over the next 10 years I made changes in my diet, paying attention to what my body wanted even if that didnít agree with "all the right things." I experimented with alternative therapies, some of which gave a bit of relief and some that apparently did nothing. My weight gain continued while my ability, now, to walk without pain is nonexistent. Nevertheless, my overall body pains are less and I feel better emotionally and psychically. If someone would ask me, Iíd say Iím healthy. Go figure.

But, you ask impatiently, how do you know you died? Iím getting to that. You know how, when you call up the memory of an event or a dream, you not only recall it, you remember doing the deed or having the dream? Well, did you ever have a memory of something you never did and that you never dreamt? No? I did. A few years ago, without warning, this "memory" popped into my head. Iím coming up on a group of five or six people and Iím saying, "Iím home! Iím home!" Iím so overcome with emotion I can hardly breathe or speak. The feelings of welcome and love are so achingly intense that I canít describe them. Believe me when I tell you, Iíve never felt anything like that in this world.

I was perplexed because I couldnít account for such a memory. It kept recurring at odd times, then one day it dawned on me that those werenít people! This is where it gets really weird. They were balls of sparkling blue energy with diaphanous white wisps trailing beneath them. There was still that emotional tone of overwhelming love and acceptance, though. Loving energy balls? Wooo! Now it gets weirder. At some point I suddenly realized I must look like that, too! By now I suppose youíre bound to decide that this was a hallucination. You just have to take my word for it that this was completely different from a hallucination.

It was some time before I concluded that these "people" were souls who had greeted me on my return Home. Dumfounded, I was left with the question, when could this have happened? After all, here I was, in this all too solid and voluminous flesh, and definitely not dead. Ultimately I recollected how I had felt those years ago in my recliner, unable to "do it anymore," feeling like I would "die of tired." I would breathe out and have to remind myself to breathe in again even though I felt no urgent need to do so. I felt so sleepy, all my energy leaking out. Maybe I did "fall asleep" and breathe out and not breathe in again. Iíll never know for sure.

If this is indeed what happened and I did die and go Home, itís pretty apparent I didnít stay. Maybe I just went for a visit to charge up my batteries, so to speak. Lack of tunnels and white lights notwithstanding, I do believe something significant happened. After that is more or less when I began my spiritual search in earnest, even though I didnít become aware of the memory itself for many more years.

Recently I was discussing the myth of the phoenix with some people. While itís interesting, and even seems associated with my astrological sign (Scorpio), I didnít feel any visceral connection. Later, I was having one of those conversations, you know, the kind where you think youíre having a mental discussion with someone else but youíre really talking to yourself. Anyway, I was "talking" about my crash and burn and I was saying that it was so severe that "there was nothing but ashesÖ." Bam! Blink. Light bulb! Crash and burn. Dying. Ashes. Phoenix. Ahh, yes.

So, where am I now? Well, Iím not dead. Iím sitting in my recliner, still with a greater or lesser degree of chronic pain, unable to walk more than several feet, even with a cane, and literally nearly twice the woman I used to be. Yet, after 20 years of symptoms and 10 years after I crashed and ashed, Iím different, more hopeful, more alive than when I was healthy.

Iím rising out of my ashes.

"Sam" would appreciate your comments. You may write to her at Sampatron@aol.com

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