My mother died on the day I was born.
In 1953, as a divorced woman with children, she had to do many things to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. She was, by many accounts, the town “tramp”. She worked as a waitress and bartender and any other job she could get in our tiny mountain town. My father was a mining engineer who was on a project at the local mine. He was a married man with a family elsewhere. There was no chance he would leave his family for her, and soon after she found out she was expecting me, he left town.
She was thirty-six years old and she had five children. I was not good news. My brother and sisters were ashamed of their lives, their whore of a mother and their abusive, alcoholic father. How could they help but be ashamed of me? She had tried to abort me by whittling a slippery elm twig to a point and inserting it into her cervix. This was a common practice in those days when an unwanted pregnancy could determine a woman’s fate. I was stubborn though, and I wouldn’t come out. I waited until a snowy day in February to make my debut. It was a difficult labor, and she began to hemorrhage. They rushed her to Colorado General Hospital, forty miles away, and as they wheeled her into the emergency room her life was quickly slipping away.
She woke up to find herself hovering above the bed, as the doctors worked frantically to save her life. She saw me being wrapped in a blanket and whisked away by a nurse. She watched the doctors working to revive her dying body. It was a teaching hospital, and many of the doctors seemed to speak in several different languages. She could hear them and she understood them all completely. She was in a calm and peaceful place and she watched without fear or concern.
Floating above the scene, she could also see into other rooms as though there were no walls. In the room next door there was a woman who had been in an auto accident. Her neck was bleeding, and the nurse working on her had some blood on her right pinky finger.
Suddenly, my mother’s attention was drawn back to her own body, and the work the doctors were doing. Her blood pressure had dropped to zero and her heart had ceased to beat. She had IVs in her arms and they were giving her CPR, they were frantically trying to jump start her system. Then, she saw me. Not the body of Lyn, but the Being of me. She knew she wanted to hold me. Without hesitation, she came back. She refused to die and leave me motherless.
I was born at 12:53pm on a Monday. I had a large strawberry mark on my left ear and neck, and one on my right pinky finger. Mom told me that I was marked because she had seen the accident victim’s blood from her vantage point hovering over the neighboring room. I believed all this story without question, and even though I hated the birthmark, it proved to me that the veil between the world of life and death is very thin, and that one could move in and out of it if they really wanted to. Later, when I began to have frequent “out of body” episodes, I was never afraid. I thought it was natural to move in and out of the world at will. I was puzzled as to why other kids couldn’t. To me it was like I had a super power, removing me from harmful and frightening situations whenever I needed it to. I depended on that power to protect me. I needed it.
The miraculous story of my birth was a common topic of conversation when I was a child. The mystery of how a mother can see something, like the blood on the neck and finger, and “imprint” it on her baby at birth, was fascinating to me. As an adult and a scientist, I would tell you it is not possible, but as a child and a Mystic, I knew that it was.
This all happened back in 1953. Stories of Near Death Experiences (NDE) were seldom heard. My mother had never heard of someone dying and returning back to life, but she told the story often. She did not see angels, or dead relatives, or anything else. What she did see and hear was obviously amazing enough – she saw through walls and understood conversations in languages she did not know. Right around the same time I was born in Idaho Springs Colorado, a housewife named Virginia Tighe in Pueblo Colorado was revealing a past life in Ireland to a local amateur hypnotist. The story of Tighe’s past life as an Irish woman named Bridey Murphy became a huge sensation. My mother had seen that death was not the end, and she taught me that we live on.
Of course, today with the famous stories of Anita Moorjani and Dr Eben Alexander and many more, the belief in the continuance of life after the death of the body is widely accepted, and yet most people I know are afraid of death. What is it that we really are afraid of? For as long as we have lived on Earth, death has been a factor in our lives. Death is the price we pay for living in a body. Is the gift we receive worth the price? A Course in Miracles talks about death in not so glowing terms:
“Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. 2 Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end? 3 We have asked this question before, but now we need to consider it more carefully. 4 It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. 5 This is regarded as “the way of nature,” not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the “natural” law of life. 6 The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path, -all this is taken as the Will of God. 7 And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.” (A Course in Miracles Manual for Teachers M-27.1.)
In my young life I saw death often enough. Animals and old people died and that was natural. It did seem cruel to me that my dog got run over by the snowplow, but I got over it pretty quickly.
The first time I saw a real person die it was spectacular.
One evening when I was nine years old, my parents and I had gone out for ice cream. We were driving down Harrison Avenue, the main street in Leadville, ice cream in hand when suddenly, a building exploded right in front of us. Three flaming men came flying out through a big showroom window and landed in front of our car. One of the burning men was screaming for his mother. I was so surprised that a grown man would call for his mother and it filled me with terror. My parents pulled out the blankets we used to cover the seats in our car and tried to smother the flames. A police car was right behind us and the police officers jumped out and helped. Ambulances and fire trucks arrived, and we parked the car around the corner and walked back to watch. Soon the whole town had come out and we watched as the building, which had been an auto show room, burned to the ground. That was the first time I witnessed human death. It was terrifying. The fire burned on into the night and it was the talk of the town for years to come.
I never talked about that night. It seemed like such a strange coincidence that we were there at that very instant. I never told anyone that I was there, and I saw it all, but I thought and dreamed about burning in fire like Joan of Arc. She was my favorite Saint and I had often imagined what her last moments had been like. Had God given her some special dispensation of no suffering, like Jesus? Or did she scream out for her mother when the pain became unbearable? At that moment, I became afraid of death…. not really death itself, but everything that happens beforehand… that became a passion for a mind that was curious about God.
As a child, I was keenly aware of the irony of the church’s role in persecuting Joan. I saw how their terror at the power of her pure and mystical heart exceeded their fear of hell. I, too heard voices and saw visions. Once, when I about six years old, I was kneeling in the Sanctuary, looking up at Jesus, hanging on the cross all bedraggled and sad looking. On His brow was the crown of thorns, blood trickling down his face, His hands and feet pierced by the cruel nails, His side dripping with blood from a huge gash. As I gazed at His face, He turned His head and looked back at me. He smiled and He winked. I smiled back and I knew that He was okay. At that moment I realized that it was all a joke, that He was not hurt at all. I knew then that my mother’s story was true, and death was not real. God really did love me, and, as the quote from ACIM states, “The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path, -all this is taken as the Will of God. 7 And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.” Manual for Teachers M-27.1. That was a question that I did ask, and the answer was always a big No.
“There is one life, and that I share with God. There are not different kinds of life, for life is like the truth. It does not have degrees. It is the one condition in which all that God created share. Like all His Thoughts, it has no opposite. There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One.” A Course in Miracles – Lesson 167