blinkstar.gif (494 bytes) Tina Spearing

Before I try to describe my near-death experience, I want to thank you for this website. Ever since I found it, I have done nothing but read. I do not think anything makes you feel more alone in an experience - or more part of the world at the same time - as knowing death. I have had a million questions, with no one to talk to but my priest, who also experienced an NDE. It is not something people discuss over coffee. Although I have not read about an NDE such as mine, I sincerely hope that mine is not unique. If you can direct me to anything similar, I will read it with great attention!

My near-death experience was profoundly religious and my hope is that you will read it with an open mind. I will preface by saying that my father was somewhat orthodox in his Roman Catholic views and was so upset by Vatican II, that we were raised with a very limited and inconsistent church background. He did not want us exposed to bongos and guitars, long haired priests and mini skirts at the altar. When we did go to church, we had to cover our heads and practice reverence. All of my life I have said the rosary for comfort and meditation. I grew up in a household that always had an open discussion of God, and catholic values.

As a very young child, I was oftentimes visited by what may have been an angel, but I often thought of him as Jesus, because he wore a long robe and had a beard. He was my invisible friend to everyone in my family. Usually, he would sit in a golden tree in my bedroom and often talk to me and make me laugh. From the time of the first visit, I became more intuitive about things that may happen, and often drove my mother nuts by announcing who was on the phone, even before she answered it. I have tried to live a good life, and I have tried very hard to be helpful and kind towards people. I am not perfectly selfless by any means, but I ignored my own needs more often than not. I guess, because of these reasons, I always assumed I would go to heaven. In a very Catholic way, I really didn't think hell existed.

So this is what happened:

October 8, 1996, at the age of 34 years old, I began having unbelievable chest pains and nausea while I drove home from a doctor's visit. Less than an hour later I was in the hospital, and five hours later, the doctors had me in surgery, only to discover I had suffered a massive heart attack due to a blood clot blocking 98% of the left descending artery inside the heart. Needless to say, it was a weird case in which the team of six doctors were not sure they could do anything, because of the clot's location. I had four more heart attacks in 3 weeks - and literally lay dying with no hope of recovery.

During the fourth heart attack, I remember the pain in my chest welled up to an unbelievable pressure. I gently closed my eyes and took a deep breath, figuring it was my last. The pain stopped immediately. It was so liberating. My eyes flew open. Suddenly, standing before me in a dark, cool place was the Virgin Mary. There was a star or stars above her head, and she was pregnant. Her face was a young girl's but she had knowing in her liquid black eyes. Her hands were extended, her fingers stretched down to me. Her gown was yellow in color. Her cape was dark blue and it gave me an eerie feeling, because I said to myself, the angels of death wear dark capes. I did not know, yet that I had died, and I do not know why I had that thought about the angels. I fell to my knees in awe, looking up to her. She smiled down at me, but her eyes were troubled. She placed her hands on her stomach and it radiated a deep moving, yellow light from within. I had so much desire to be close to that light, that I leaned my head against her pregnant stomach. As I closed my eyes, preparing to feel her against my face, I suddenly found myself to be falling into the yellow light of her stomach. At first my fall was ungraceful and frightening. I was tumbling and screaming, terrified! Then I felt a hand on my right hand, and another on my left. I know to my right was Mary. She watched me and smiled again. Her arms extended out like a bird soaring through the sky. She was speaking to me. She told me many things, and I calmed down and felt safe. I do not know who held my other hand. We soared downwards to a yellow light that was getting deeper as we traveled. It was warm, and although the air moved along my body, the air was warm also. This was not like a dream. It had all the characteristics of a physical and psychological experience.

"Look down," she commanded.

Below us was a city. It was a big city like New York or Chicago. It was on fire. The flames were so red and so yellow. As the buildings burned and crumbled - and they were all on fire - they seemed to rebuild themselves and then burn again. The closer we got to the ground, the more details I could see. There was nothing, not on fire. The only thing that I did not see were trees. There were cars and trains, boats, and rivers, I saw certain animals and the streets licked and twisted with red, yellow, umber flames.... and of course there were people. Their flesh would burn off of them and they were screaming. The sound was as horrifying as the sight. As soon as their burning skeletons were exposed, the flesh would grow back onto their frames and immediately begin to burn again.

I was screaming and crying. I turned to her and said, "I do not want to see this."

She commanded me again to "look down."

Her voice was soothing, and my fear stopped immediately. A short way off was a person - I think a man. He was burning, and he looked so familiar to me. He was in so much pain and just my desire to help him, brought us closer to him. I could see that he could see me. He reached out to me, screaming, but unable to verbalize a plea, his tongue was on fire.

"Please let me help him," I pleaded. "We can bring him back."

She told me, "He does not belong here." Somehow I knew that.

I said to her, "I know him" and she said, "No, you will know him."

I realized that by now we had floated to the ground and my bare feet touched the street. But the fire did not burn me, although I could feel the heat, hear the licks of the flame, and smell the burning flesh, rubber tires, oil, and fabrics of the city. Then she told me some things, some of which I have remembered. Then she took my hand and told me not to look back. Someone took my other hand and we ascended very, very quickly back to the black area which also reminded me of being inside of a box.

She stood again in front of me and again I fell to my knees, feeling them thump on the non-existent floor. Something in my mind told me the floor was there because I wanted it to be there. I was overwhelmed with emotion, from what I had just experienced and because I could feel her love for me. This love was a tangible yearning, that I have never felt before. It seemed I kneeled there for a long time. I did not want my eyes to leave her gaze. It was as if our heart were communicating - without words or images of any kind. I became aware of an immense simplicity, an utter calmness, and a part of something that was so great that it had always been there, right in front of my face and I had never realized its true presence.

Allow me to draw a comparison. I will use the nature of water. If you put your hand into body temperature water - you have some awareness of the water, but there is very little tangible, physical or emotional response. You are aware of a response but it is negligible compared to other chemical states of water. Your hand does not really even know it is wet until you have taken your hand out of the water. This is how human love is compared to this ethereal love. Now you hold a piece of ice in your hand. Every single sensory organ has the opportunity to react to the water. It is cold, hard, cracks in our ear, tastes, smells, even changes within our hand as it melts. Human love, regardless of it's passion, is more like tepid water, compared to the physical, mental, and spiritual reaction I had to the love I shared with Mary. I have never felt so completely accepted and wonderful. I knew she was more than just our Mary. Yet her appearance as Mary was to help me and comfort me so I would not be afraid. Even this I knew. And then, I also knew she was going to leave. I begged her to let me go with her. I held her hands and unity coursed through me. The box was opening from above and I saw and felt through the cracks, a powerful force on the other side.

Mary told me, "You have to go back. Your children wait for you."

"They will be fine," I responded.

"There is something you must still do for me," she asked. "You are not done."

The way she said it, made me know I had no choice. Tears coursed down my cheeks.

Suddenly my mind reeled. I was thinking and maybe speaking to her aloud, "The kids will be O.K. I am tired. I need you. Please!"

But my pleading went unheaded and she left me ... completely alone ... for what seemed like a microsecond and also seemed like an eternity.
Then I heard the voice, "Tina! Tina! Oh, my good Lord!"

I opened my eyes. The view was upside down. I realized I was up in the corner ceiling of my hospital room. I watched as a large nurse, known as Twila, resuscitated a woman lying on a bed. To be honest, I didn't realize it was me. It seemed like I had been gone for hours or weeks. Lights were flashing and piercing beeps and squeals from monitors made more people run into the room. They brought machines. They hovered over my body. I looked at it. It was like a corn husk, an empty sea shell. It didn't even seem human to me. I really did not know what they were doing.

Then I felt a pull. I heard my physical body calling me in a very low, vibrant way. It is the way spring calls you to come outside, or a warm bed calls you to come inside. I resisted, pushing myself deep into the corner. The only way I can describe it would be to say that all the little particles that fiercely grip the carpet and try valiantly to resist the vacuum cleaner, might identify with the feeling I had as I was sucked back into my body. It was an assault on my spiritual character. I was quite content sitting on the ceiling watching all the people run around and react.

For a moment, everything was dark again and then I felt the pain. It was a vice on my chest.

I opened my eyes. They felt dry and seemed to stick together. I felt overwhelming depression, anger, and exhaustion, all at the same time.

Now, I am glad I am alive. My cardiologist always refers to me as his "miracle," but I think God had more to with that than he did. (A few days after I had died, I begged my cardiologist to take a day off. My doctor did and that night had a strange dream about a tool he could make to save my life. He woke up in the middle of the night and sketched it out. He sent the plans to an engineer who built it and sent it back overnight. They did life saving surgery the next day.) Believe it or not, he actually admitted to me a few weeks ago, he felt like there was more divine influence in my recovery than anything he could have done.

I do not know why I was shown hell rather than heaven. I am not the same person. I see more. My perceptions are very heightened. My intuition is stronger. I love people more. I am more profoundly religious and try to avoid the hypocrisy and turmoil that makes it way into our Sunday service every week. I volunteer at the hospital once a week and I talk to people and try to ease their fears. I realize I am not even close to being selfless. I try not to try.

I am left with a feeling that there is something I am supposed to do ... and I haven't quite found it yet.

That is my story. There is actually more to it ... but I'll end it here.

Sincerely, Tina Spearing

"What we call life is a journey to death. What we call death is the gateway to life." - Wayne Triplett

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