Are you familiar with the phenomenon of Near Death Experiences (NDE’s)?
I had one last Friday.
Last Friday started off like any other. I had scheduled the day off to go apple picking with my wife. For years, I had heard of and missed the circus surrounding the U-Pick Honeycrisp Weekend at our local fruit farm. I determined on New Year’s Day 2018, that in 235 days, August 25th, 2018, I needed to experience it firsthand.
You see all the other varieties hang around for weeks. Due to obscene demand, Honeycrisp are lucky to survive the weekend. They run out earlier and earlier every year. It’s not only that they are absurdly delicious, apples are the Michael Jordan of health foods.
Well, the day had arrived. With The Picking Hours to commence at 9:00 am EST, we went for an early morning walk before heading out for the grand opening. I was dressed in jean overalls with red bandanas sticking out of every pocket, a straw hat, and a corncob pipe (just a prop). I looked fine.
The 25 minute drive was filled with talk that was giddy and inspired. About a half mile from the entrance, traffic slowed to a halt. For those unfamiliar with Utica, OH it is not easily confused with Chicago; this was unforeseen. This was not good. Not good at all. Krissy was talking me down as our Jeep Wrangler crawled toward the gatekeeper. There were hundreds of cars in front of us. Hundreds. Finally, our turn.
The GateKeeper stood there smiling with large white plastic bags in her right hand and small tan plastic bags in her left. My eyes were LOCKED on that right hand. As I rolled down the driver’s side window, an involuntary nervous laughter escaped me. I am trained on every single movement this woman is making. She was visibly impressed with all my bandanas. At this point the car radio reads 9:32 and I’m guessing there are about 200-300 cars that have already parked.
“Good morning, would you like…”THE WHITE ONES. THE BIG ONES”.
I quickly wiped the right corner of my mouth.
“WE WANT THE BIG ONES!!”
In the passenger seat, Krissy had her head buried between her legs, I think all the excitement was making her lightheaded.
Handing me multiple white bags she proceeds,
“Go ahead and turn left at that next row then go all the way down. If there are any Honeycrisp left they will be in the aisles with a red ribbon.”
That was the last thing I remember.
When I awoke, it was if I had been transported to another world.
The only way to describe it is that I felt as if I was literally floating through a Babylonian landscape. I had never come close to feeling anything remotely like this.
Am I in heaven? I think I’m in heaven!
(Excuse me Doc, I thought this was medical newsletter?)
The ground is so plush and velvety under my bare feet. I’m surrounded by gorgeous trees crammed with luscious fruit for as far as the eye could see. The softest air carrying the melodies of the prettiest songbirds you’d ever heard.
Had I landed in the Garden of Eden?
I was rubbing my eyes as I had just been blinded by a magnificent light.
Picture the brightest light you’ve ever seen and multiply it by 100.
The greens are so green; the apples so red, so large, so lush, so beautiful.
The vibrancy of the colors brings me to my knees as I fight to hold back tears.
Where was I?!
I so wish Krissy could be here to experience this with me. Yet I am overcome with a strange sense of security. While she is not with me, it’s as if I know she is safe. It is almost as if I could hear voices, including hers, very distant in background…
“I’m so sorry about this officer. I’ve never seen him act like this and I know EMS has much more important work to handle.”
I continued to hover over this utopian landscape. Yes, this indeed was heaven. Picture the sweetest, juiciest apple you’ve ever tasted and multiply it by 1000. That wouldn’t even begin to describe what I was tasting.
There were the voices again…
“No problem ma’am, he should be fine. I think he just hyperventilated. I put the flashlight right up in his eyes and pupils are equal and reactive. He popped right up and started running in zig-zags all on his own.”
As I wander through heaven amidst this absolute abundance, I am capturing as many apples as I can. They are protruding from all my pockets, spilling out of my overalls, and I am actually able to get two in my mouth at the same time.
“Should we stop him for you ma’am? He keeps bumping into the trees.”
One couldn’t help but notice the little angels. They’re everywhere!
They’re the sweetest things you’d ever seen.
All of them, looking at me, pointing, giggling.
The big angels are trying to get them to look off in another direction.
Then again, far off in the distance. it was almost as if I could hear Krissy’s voice easing my transition.
“No, I’d let him go. He’s in his happy place.”
Then came a loud crack and an excruciating headache. Everything began spinning at 100 mph.
I now lay on the ground staring up at Krissy and a bunch of paramedics huddled around her. Two of the larger paramedics were looking away, faces beet red, covering their mouths, their eyes full of tears.
In the Emergency Department we rarely see the EMS get emotional, I must’ve been in pretty bad shape.
My head was throbbing yet her beauty was so comforting hovering over me.
“Honey!!!” My speech rushed, I grab for her sweatshirt.”You’re never in a million years going to believe where I’ve been!”
She smacked my hands away then quickly wipes her hands on the ground.
From my fingertips to my shoulders I am covered in dried, sticky apple juice.
She cups my face in her hands, pulling my head off the thick, wet grass.
“David, this is absolutely ridiculous! Get a hold of yourself!!! You’ve been wandering around this place like a crazy person and now you just walked into a ladder! I’m taking you out of here.”
And with that, we find our way to the car. I steady myself as I ascend into the Jeep’s passenger seat as we head home.
Staring into the passenger side mirror, I see the orchard getting further away. I am overcome with emotion reflecting on how fortunate I was. I had always heard about NDE’s but never, EVER thought I would experience one firsthand.