Beyond – Chapters 1 & 2

16 Jul

Below are the next two chapters, please like, share widely, and comment if you wish to continue reading more – this is only the very beginning. The working title for the Book is “Beyond”…

The entirety of this work as published in this blog is Copyrighted by myself and may not be republished or distributed without my permission (You may link to this page and share a paragraph or two as a lead in).

The Experience of Death and Sermons

When people who knew what had happened would ask me about my experiences, the first question was invariably “What do you remember?”. Of course I suspect they were expecting a detailed description of my observations and perceptions about my immediate surroundings after discorperation, but in truth – what I remembered most strongly were the collections of truths that I recounted to myself over and over that I might not forget them – as my memories of that time faded away like a dream begins to do in the moments following awakening.

To that end I have divided this book into two parts, the first of which will address to the best of my ability the more physical aspects of the death experience and I will endeavor to provide as accurate a description as my language and memory allow. The second part of this book is dedicated to the many truths I was forced to condense to short phrases and simply memorize.

Though my understanding of the truths is no longer complete, I am all too aware that I remembered these specific ones because they were key to my salvation – not necessarily yours or anyone else’s. I was also aware that I would not recall the reasons why they were important and thus would have to take on faith that I remembered them because they were truly that important and accept them at face value whether or not my human mind could even begin to grasp their true importance.

I’m afraid that there will be some overlap, as the two items are so very intertwined and I beg the readers indulgence for those times when I may seemingly go afield from the intended path.

As for the “Sermons”, though I make no pretense that they are centered on me and my life, I am still confident that much can be gleaned from that part of my experience by anyone who is so inclined. Therefore, I have included those things I committed to memory, and what understanding I have remaining of many philosophical questions.

The Moment of Death – and Beyond

“Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit…”

I believe with all my heart that what happened to me, is not something that is intended for everyone. However, it seems that morbid curiosity prevents people from not asking questions about it. In many ways I suspect it was a most unusual situation in that there was no tunnel, no light, no relatives waiting to greet me. I remember briefly a short moment of lucidity before the actual event, like the engine on a small model plane revving up into high warble as the last vapors of its fuel enter the carburetor. I came aware with a start – but I was unable to communicate effectively, so the moment of forewarning was useless. I had no idea that this was to be the moment, either–that realization came only later.

I was in the operating room undergoing a pituitary resection surgery.  I became aware momentarily of the voices of the surgeons and nurses talking around me. I could hear their conversations and hear the gentle thrumming of the soft-rock music playing in the background. The was a moment of apparent panic in around me and many different people started shouting all at once so quickly I couldn’t understand or keep up with that they were saying.

I could feel my body being repositioned and I could feel horrific pain in my chest and my left side. A driving thirst filled me, and I wanted nothing more than to wet my lips and mouth, I would have given anything for a swallow of water. My whole face felt strangely like my teeth do when I would let them dry in the cold winter air as a child and then suck my breath over them. There was a sensation like being kicked while lying prone on the ground, followed by a sensation I can only describe as drowning in a sea of sand while being bound and dragged behind a fast moving vehicle.

Then I felt the sensation of being squeezed and compressed into a little ball. It was a sensation that was both cold and hot, with a gripping paralysis and a prickling pain, which accompanied it. This prickling was less like your foot going to sleep after sitting too long and much more like falling asleep on a golf course and having a soused greens keeper trowel you under with the aerator attachment on his tractor.

This continued until I was sure I could stand it no more and then increased. I wondered why I did not loose consciousness – and realized that I wanted more than anything for the pain to stop. Then began a throbbing pain, and I felt so tightly bound that I couldn’t decide if I was about to burst outwards or implode. My chest was so tightly bound that I could not breathe in or out and the throbbing had become a pounding thumping. My heart was beating so hard that I was sure it would leap from my chest at any moment, as though shot from a 9 pound cannon.

Just as the agony reached a lilting crescendo, a feeling much like a sharp blow struck me about the crown of my head and I felt myself separated from my flesh in much the same way as a nail might feel if it was driven completely through the wood and not simply into it. The body was gone and yet I remained.

Darkness surrounds me, and if I was floating or falling I could not tell, nor had I any inkling of the amount of time that might have passed. I was thinking, even ruminating on my current situation, wondering if the power at the hospital had gone out or thinking that this was just some horrible nightmare from which my current level of sedation prevented me from waking. The soundless void threatened me with imminent madness and I struggled mightily to grasp for any sensation that might provide a frame of reference.

Everything was black – any inky darkness into which I was unable to peer. I assumed I had appendages and attempted to move them but I could not even make contact with my own body, at least not at the location I was sure my body should be. I was neither hot nor cold, and I was sure I was not breathing – but wondered at my own lack of distress about that fact. In spite of the lack of distress, my whole being was filled with a feeling of abject panic. I could feel the sensation of tears welling up which simply would not come. I could feel my heart rending, but was unable to detect it beating. The longer this persisted the more agitated I became. My thirst was still present but greatly muted, and a sensation of weightlessness enveloped me as though I was falling into a deep chasm on a moonless and starless night; without even the wind to blow against me and provide some sensory input. No up, no down, spinning or still – disoriented and unable to focus on anything.

My mind was still blank at this point and much too focused on simply regaining my equilibrium to worry about anything else. I was aware that I existed and that I was disoriented and no more. At this point I wanted nothing more than to come to rest and take a physical inventory of myself. I was also peering intently, squinting as if i had eyes and as if it would have helped if I had – to discern anything about my surroundings which could provide me a frame of reference.

This state persisted for some time. I might have been there only minutes or it could have been days – my sense of time was simply not up to the task of quantifying any questions of “when” for me at the moment. I recall waving my arms and kicking my legs but feeling no wind, or resistance to their motion of any kind, when suddenly emotions washed over me like breakers pounding into a narrow inlet.

My life decisions did not play before me so to speak, but were all brought to mind. Like a slideshow, playing in a round theater I could not look away or close my eyes as every emotionally significant event in my life was reviewed for my benefit. These were the memories and moments that shaped my current existence. All of my experiences bonding together in a streaming whole and creating a mold for my character, and in doing so – my immortal soul.

Sadness, regret, and fear, all plagued me at once in an intoxicating smother. It reminded me of the run-in I had had with a bottle of mescal tequila in my youth that had turned me away from alcohol in general, and tequila in all forms. The world began to spin madly and I twirled in a seeming vacuum for an indeterminate length of time, with hot salty tears flying from my cheeks as fast as they could be produced. My heart felt rent from my chest, and the regret weighed on me like the weight of the world.

Only the happy and the sad truly stuck out, and I am not proud to say that the sad outweighed the happy by many times. Many of my happy memories centered around common themes and people, especially one person. Memorable experiences played as well – moments of wonder and awe, beauty and inspiration, and excitement and exhilaration all wove themselves into the tapestry and every so often I would feel myself sucked into one of the moments playing, reliving it as a third party watching from the sidelines. In doing so I would re-experience the emotional flood that I had felt at that moment and then emerge again, stolid from the moment I disengaged, feeling the emotions drain away like water flowing down a shower drain.

For so many I felt shame, sadness, and regret continuing on until all I did was hope that soon I would stop remembering. I furtively tried to peer out into the darkness, searching for any change in the contrast of inky blackness that might give some clue as to my location, but nothing–nothing at all was visible to comfort me.

I thought for a brief moment of Alice who briefly feared she would not stop shrinking, and much like Alice at that moment, I cheered at the thought that I might wink out of existence. And then as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. In an instant I was standing on firm ground – still surrounded by a congealed and inky blackness nothing could penetrate. I could feel legs beneath me, air blowing past the hairs on my arms as I waved them, and gravity. I knew which way was up. Not only that, I knew so much more, so very much more than I have the language to describe, or even now have the capacity to imagine, all in an instant. It seemed as though an understanding beyond my earthly capacity flooded into my mind overwhelming it. I felt like my head would explode and I reached to my head with my hands and touched nothing. It took an indeterminate period of time for the headache to subside, and I could feel knowledge beyond my capability to comprehend swimming through my thoughts and coloring my perceptions. I was changing, my understanding of all things was changing, and the realizations which emerged gnawed like rats at the core of my very being. It was at this moment that I began to realize this wasn’t a bad dream, and I wasn’t going to wake up safe in the hospital ICU.

I fell to one knee in shame and horror – a life totally wasted, a seeming comedy of errors. My only purpose to that point was to serve as a bad example. The little in my life I felt pride in, my lovely wife, my beautiful children – they deserved so much better. In the same instant I knew I was dead, and hoped they realized how much better off they were without me. The feelings of inadequacy and smallness were overwhelming me. I felt as though I were drowning, the expansion of my understanding was not a painless process, and i felt as if my skull had burst at the seams and my brain had extruded itself through the cracks – and then just kept expanding. The sensation of pressure was intense and almost unbearable. I cried out in pain and anguish and as suddenly as it had started it stopped. I felt a soothing presence nearby which I could not directly discern. It’s effect was calming and reassuring, and I could not help but begin to feel better about everything and I quickly ceased to focus on the pain, and instead began to focus on myself.

In truth if you would have asked me before all this happened I would have been reasonably sure I was going right to Heaven. I was absolutely for sure I was doing so much better than the next person that there was basically “no contest”. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I was closer than 99.999% of the rest of the world… Or so I thought, I so very arrogantly thought.

The mind of Man is not the Mind of God – and what God and Man find pleasing differ. Always be mindful of this, I chanted this to myself as an eternal reminder to be obedient to his will regardless of what I thought he would want. It’s always better to listen, wait for instructions if you are unsure. He has ways of communicating with you that you cannot truly appreciate until you sit and listen. I have found that the local Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at my Parish provides me the best environment possible for him to communicate with me, which is why I am so often silent in his presence. But now to continue…

I had fallen to my knees, barely noticing that I had done so without any of the arthritic discomfort or jarring pain that always accompanied such motions before. My despair only grew with the certain knowledge that I had failed my creator in every way possible and I suspected in some ways that had managed to surprise even him. I was truly so very sorry – and not for fear of punishment, but because I had disappointed. I had been given such opportunity and potential – yet this life was my accounting of his gifts to me, and it was a pitiful accounting; which left a balance far in arrears.

I was suddenly trapped in the terror of the certain understanding that I was now immortal, and that I would now have to endure eternity in this state. Adam and Eve’s nakedness had nothing on me. My body heaved, as it was racked with sobs that pulled so hard as to try to rip me apart. If I could have winked out of existence on my own, I would have.

In my anguish I cried out to the Lord, meaning to beg him to have mercy and extinguish this derelict flame; but I was only able to utter a guttural noise that sounded like the wind whipping past a piece of loose rubber trim on an old car – traveling down the interstate highway far to quickly. The presence moved closer, I could feel him but not see him.

I collapsed in agony, unwilling to live, and unable to die. I buried my face into my crossed arms and before I could do anything more I was enveloped by two strong arms, which gently lifted me upright, set my feet on the ground, and then proceeded to wipe the tears from my eyes. Through all this I could not discern his form, though I tried and tried I was unable to gain even a glimpse of him. I could sense him and feel him but I could not see him, or touch him when I reached out. He, however, seemed to be able to touch me at will.

The tears disappeared, and with them the emotions that spawned them. He held me there for some time until I was well enough comforted to be objective and reasonable again, if such was possible. And though I never saw him, I felt his presence so very directly and tangibly that there was no question in my mind that my creator himself had taken a moment from eternity to comfort me.

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3 Responses to “Beyond – Chapters 1 & 2”

  1. Karen Morton July 16, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    I’m shaking. Feel almost like I could cry, but not needing to. Strange. This is amazing, Colin.

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. About the Experience that brought me back to the Church | The Catholic Husband - July 16, 2015

    […] (Continued in Next Post…) […]

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  2. Interview 021 – Colin Corcoran on Death, Marriage and Family | Athanasius Contra Mundum - October 14, 2015

    […] Chapters of Colin’s book “Beyond” […]

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