I was raised a Catholic girl and I have completed Holy Communion and Catechism at 7 years of age. I had three older brothers whom were also expected to attend Church and go through the religious processes, but, as soon as they were in their early teens, they started to refuse to go to Church, saying it was "boring," "took up too much time," and "nonsensical." Such is the pattern that when I became a young adolescent, I copy-catted their behavior, although, it was not because I felt that Church was boring or nonsensical, just that I wanted to be like them and say-and-do the same.
After a long while of living with no religious guidance or structure, I started contemplating the existence of God and that is when I was introduced to atheism. I remember my ex-boyfriend saying, "it just means you don't believe in anything, no God. You just don't believe in anything," which made sense to me because at that point, I didn't believe in anything! I went through a lot of phases and just like what had happened with my brothers and attending Church, I attached the same labels to myself that other people did, even, if I knew or practiced, absolutely nothing to do with that religion. When I was 18 years of age, I was reborn and it was the best thing that happened in my life.
I remember that day so clearly, as if it were a thousand years ago, yet, yesterday. I was sitting with a group of Christian people attending a sermon. Naturally, I, the rebel was seated at the very back, when the Priest said, "anyone who would like to repent, may come up to me, now." I felt as though I had swallowed my own tongue, the group was silent. "Anyone who would like to ask forgiveness for their sins, come up here, now." My body was stiff, I couldn't move, I watched pensively as a few people got up and went to the front, and the Priest once again, asked "if anyone of you sitting here today would like to ask forgiveness for the sins you have committed? Come up, now" and with that said, my friend grabbed my hand with such force that she pulled me straight off my chair and speedily ushered me to the front. We commenced the born again words of right, and I followed the Priests words, repeating after him. The strangest thing was, although I had no faith when I approached, I had no expectations or belief in the sermon, immediately my life began to change for the better in ALL ways. I was rejuvenated and invigorated physically, mentally, emotionally and in many areas of my life without expecting it at all! Without having seen it coming, I was truly blessed that day. And, I remained a practicing Christian for the last 14 years since that very day, without any regrets, disappointments or misleads within my religion.
One afternoon, I had an allergic reaction to a kiwi fruit that I had eaten, and I was not aware that I suffered from this allergy. I began to feel dizzy and my palate and tongue were itching, so I rushed to the bathroom where I sat down and tried to calm myself. At that point, my lungs swelled and seized and nobody in my house knew that I was in the loo with the door closed, and sick / dying. I can tell you, it all happened very fast.
For a while, I was in nothing but a black space which I believe is when your mind and organs are shutting down, just before you truly die. It was an uneasy space, and I have heard this recounted by many other people who have experienced near-death-encounters. Suddenly, I was speedily lifted and ascended into paradise, I went higher and higher. All of the objects that I saw, such as, clouds and the sky were sharp and striking, each with a somewhat... Silver-lining. The feeling was immeasurable, that of complete peace, harmony, tranquility, illumination, scintillant and boundless beauty, exquisite artistry.
My Sister-in-Law needed the bathroom and knocked on the door but received no response, but, she experienced a queer and unusual feeling, so she pressed on, "hello, I need the bathroom?" Knock, knock, she continued, "Is anybody in there? Kiki?" At which point, she opened the door and found me with pale blue lips and not breathing, lying on the floor. She screamed for my Mother and Brother... I did not hear a thing, I was traveling to my final destination with much calamity, gladness and glee. My Brother walked up to me, grabbed my shoulders forcefully and shook me. No response, and my Brother is not a weak or small-built guy, he was a Provincial Rugby player in South Africa, the equivalent of an American Football Player for a state, and he did body building, karate and he was a bouncer since he was 15 years of age. In a desperate frustration, he slapped me as hard as he could... And, then he gave up.
My Mother having lived through British colonization, guerilla warfare and civil war has some medical training and knowledge. Also, in the old days, a woman could only enter the workmanship of Teaching, Nursing or Administration. She looked at me, and I believe that she thought that all hope was lost, I was gone. My body was lifeless, I was not breathing, my face pale and my lips turning blue and purple.
And, as I continued my journey to a destination undiscovered, I had the realization that, time, as we perceive it, is somewhat imprecise. The joy, unconditional love, tranquility and peace that I felt is eternal; as time is not a 24hour day, 1 year or 80 years - time measures an eternity widespread over ages, millennia and centuries.
All of the issues, grudges, resentments and problems that I had which had felt mountainous in life, now seemed unimportant, pointless, flimsy and gratuitous. They were very short intervals of darkness in millenniums of light. I felt a beginning, at least for me, which, was short and many more centuries ahead.
My eyes flickered open to see my distressed Brother pacing in front of me, he stopped and glared directly at me, and I responded, "what?... What's going on?" And then I turned to my Mother who was knelt by my side, sick with worry, grief and pale to an extent immeasurable.
Side note: I read of a skydiver whom had almost the EXACT same experiences after dying for several minutes in a helicopter crash. Although, in his account, he said as he flew up and experienced the feeling of eternal - joy, unconditional love, harmony, tranquility, and peace that I felt, he turned to the left and when he did so, he saw a darkness traveling beside him embodying all negative and opposite feelings, with, the equivalent feeling of eternity.