Randy Gehling's Near-Death Experience With
His Pet Dog
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
One with the Light.
"For months he begs for a
new bike for his birthday," Steven said.
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."
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."
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.
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
Kathy chuckled at their son's first words. Then at a
loss for the proper response to such a comment,
"Yeah, I guess you really
went flying over the handlebars, eh?"
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.
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
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.
the notes taken by Kathy Gehling, here, somewhat
abbreviated, is Randy's account of his near-death
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.
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
"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."
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
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
Randy asked her what her name
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)."
did not prove to be such a terrible ordeal after
all. Randy and Areo seemed to whoosh through it
"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
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."
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.
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,
walking toward the bridge to the city, and Randy saw
that the man standing awaiting them was his Grandpa
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
"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.
bought the farm this time, Randy-boy," Grandpa
Hansen said with a chuckle.
aren't ready to cash in your chips yet."
Aero seemed puzzled.
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."
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."
couldn't quite remember all of the things that Jesus
said, but he is certain of some of the words.
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
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