Randy Gehling's Near-Death Experience With His Pet Dog

By Kevin Williams

 

Ten-year-old Randy Gehling of Arlington Heights, Illinois, had been begging for a new bicycle for his birthday all summer long. On September 8, 1988, the tenth anniversary of his arrival on planet Earth, he got his bicycle - but he also came very close to changing his mailing address to heaven.

 

Steve and Kathy Gehling, Randy's parents, found the accident bitterly ironic. Randy's near-death experience appears in Brad Steiger's book, One with the Light.

 


 

 "For months he begs for a new bike for his birthday," Steven said.

 

"The minute he spotted it on the porch, he tore off the ribbons, ignored the eight little friends gathered for his birthday celebration, and took off for a "quick spin" around the block. He just didn't seem to see the teenager from across the street using the alley as a shortcut home."

 

Kathy remembered the anguish of the long hours that they spent in the waiting room, not knowing for certain whether their son would live or die.

 

"He had been unconscious ever since the neighbor boy hit him with his car. His new bicycle was all mangled. Some of the neighbors said that Randy was sent flying fifteen or twenty feet by the impact. All we could do was pray."

 

After a three-hour surgery, the doctor visited them in the waiting room and told them that the prognosis looked good. Randy was in a recovery room, and as soon as it was advisable, he would be wheeled to a hospital room where they could wait by his bedside. The doctor could not promise whether Randy would be conscious enough to respond to them yet that night.

 

The next morning at about seven-twenty, about seventeen hours after his accident, Randy opened his eyes, saw his parents at his bedside, and smiled.

 

He accepted their gentle hugs and kisses in silence, then told them:

 

"Wow, Mom and Dad, what a trip!"

 

Steve and Kathy chuckled at their son's first words. Then at a loss for the proper response to such a comment, Steve said:

 

"Yeah, I guess you really went flying over the handlebars, eh?"

 

Randy nodded, then winced at the pain of the movement. His head was completely swatched in bandages, leaving him with only a peephole around the eyes and a small open space for his mouth.

 

"Yeah, I flew up to the stars and went to heaven. I saw the angels, and I even think I might have seen Jesus. Oh, and I saw Grandpa Hansen, too."

 

Steve and Kathy glanced at one another in meaningful silence.

 

"He's still under the effects of the anesthetic," Kathy whispered. "It's like he's dreaming."

 

Randy protested what he overheard of his mother's whispered analysis.

 

"It was no dream. I was there!"

 

Steve and Kathy decided to agree with their son so they would not aggravate his condition so soon after surgery. But over the next days and weeks, they came to have a different opinion of their ten-year-old son's visit to heaven. They had to admit that Randy may well have experienced much more than a dream.

 

According to the notes taken by Kathy Gehling, here, somewhat abbreviated, is Randy's account of his near-death experience:

 

"I didn't really know what had hit me. I just seemed to go flying through the air.

 

"And then a really funny thing happened. A part of me - I guess my soul - just kept flying, and I saw my body smash into the ground. I knew it had to hurt to land that hard, so I was happy that I was where I was - wherever that was.

 

"When I got a little higher, I saw that it had been Kurt's car that had hit me. I always told him that he drove too fast in the neighborhood. He would usually just make a face at me or flip me the bird. He should have listened to me. I figured that he must have killed me and now he would go to jail."

 

Randy felt a moment of panic when he realized that he might be dying.

 

"But then this beautiful angel appeared beside me. She was really pretty. She looked like a movie star with wings. Her voice sounded kind of like Mom's when she is comforting me when I have a stomach ache or something.

 

"She told me not to worry. She said that she was with me and that she would stay right by my side. She took my hand, and I felt a lot better."

 

Randy said that they soon approached a dark tunnel. When he held back and said that he was afraid to go into the darkness, the angel smiled and told them that this was the only way that they could get to their destination.

 

I could see a bright light at the far end of the tunnel, so I said:

 

"All right, as long as you don't let go of my hand!"

 

She laughed and said:

 

"I told you that I would never leave your side. I have been with you ever since you were born. In fact, I was there at your mother's side when you were born. I am your guardian angel."

 

Randy asked her what her name was.

 

"We don't have names in the manner that you mean," she said, "but if it makes you feel better to call me something, you may call me, Areo (ah-ree-o)."

 

The tunnel did not prove to be such a terrible ordeal after all. Randy and Areo seemed to whoosh through it quickly.

 

"And then we stood before this totally awesome light," Randy said. "It was so bright and powerful that you really couldn't look right at it.

 

"I looked at Areo, wondering what we were to do next. She said that we would enter the light and become one with it. Before I could ask what that meant, she just gave my hand a little tug, and then we were inside the light.

 

"That was really cool! I kind of felt as though my body exploded - in a nice way - and became a million different atoms - and each single atom could think its own thoughts and have its own feelings. All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby."

 

And then Randy and Areo were standing in what appeared to be a lovely part, bedecked with "millions and millions" of colorful flowers. Randy could hear beautiful music playing somewhere off in the distance.

 

"Just a little ways off I could see a bridge with someone standing on it. Beyond the bridge, I saw a golden city with towers like European castles. The whole city seemed to be shining with light that shot up into the sky like a giant searchlight.

 

"I could see that some of the domes of the city were red, others were gold, and a few were blue. The gates and walls of the city seemed to be made of bright blue, red, and violet lights."

 

Randy asked Areo if they were going to visit the city. The angel nodded.

 

"That's to be your new home, Randy."

 

They began walking toward the bridge to the city, and Randy saw that the man standing awaiting them was his Grandpa Hansen.

 

Randy ran to his grandfather and felt his strong arms close around him. Grandpa Hansen had been a farmer all of his life in Minnesota. He had died, still a powerful man, when Randy was six.

 

Randy asked his beloved grandfather if he would now be living with him in heaven.

 

"One day," Grandpa Hansen told him. "But not just yet."

 

When Randy questioned his grandfather, he told him that he still had things to learn on Earth.

 

"You nearly bought the farm this time, Randy-boy," Grandpa Hansen said with a chuckle.

 

 "But you aren't ready to cash in your chips yet."

 

Aero seemed puzzled.

 

"But it seemed to me that I was doing the right thing. The word that I received indicated that now was Randy's time to return home."

 

Grandpa Hansen shrugged.

 

"I was told to meet you at the bridge and tell you to take him back home. He's got some lessons that he hasn't learned yet - and lots of work that he hasn't even started to fulfill."

 

Before Areo took him by the hand for the return flight home, Randy said that another figure materialized beside Grandpa Hansen on the bridge.

 

"I knew right away that it was Jesus," Randy said, convinced of the majestic visitor. "I knew by his eyes."

 

Randy couldn't quite remember all of the things that Jesus said, but he is certain of some of the words.

 

"Jesus said that I would never quite be the same as I was before I visited heaven. He said that some of the power of the light would remain within me. And he told me to let the love that I would feel in my heart express itself to all people.

 

"He said that I should never worry if people doubted my story or could not understand what I was telling them. 'One day,' Jesus said, 'everyone will come to see for themselves what you have seen.'"

 

"Death is only an experience through which you are meant to learn a great lesson: you cannot die." - Paramahansa Yogananda

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