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Archive for the tag “Life and Death”

A BRUSH WITH CANCER

My Cancer Story

 

     It was about a year and a half ago that I noticed a very small spot on my neck just below my ear.  At first, and for a while, I didn’t really think much of it perhaps an ingrown hair or maybe a little mole but certainly not a big deal.  I had other things to worry about and so weeks turned to months and then something started to happen that’s a bit hard to explain.  It was like a whisper that only my subconscious could hear but it seemed intent on telling me that this wasn’t just another little skin lesion that older people often get that I could just forget about.  Even now as I type this I wonder if a Guardian Angel, or a guiding spirit, or maybe even my long since deceased mother, was blowing messages into my soul to not take this lightly.  And it sounds funny but I came to the point one night where I just looked up at the dark sky and said, “alright I promise I’ll get it looked at.”

     After another day or so I made the call to a dermatologist for an appointment and a couple of weeks later off I went to my check up hoping for the best but almost expecting something short of it.  And something short of it is what I got as the Doctor stated that though it didn’t seem to be much of anything he was concerned at what he thought was a blood line leading to this lesion and felt that a biopsy was in order.  I didn’t even hesitate to schedule another appointment I told him to just do it right then and there which he did.  And three days later I got the call that I knew was coming.  I had a small pre-melanoma tumor that needed to come off as soon as possible.

     One week later I was back in the office for out patient surgery and when it was all over the Doctor showed this little lesion that wasn’t nearly as little as I had thought it would end up being.  That little speck was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, I mean, it wasn’t huge but it had been significant enough to leave quite a little scar.  And I had also learned an important lesson especially for someone like me who has fair skin and had several bad sunburns as a kid when intuition starts to tell you something don’t ignore it.  In my case it could eventually have been a life or death situation!  

 

 

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LIFE AFTER LIFE (An essay about the book, Life After Life)

LIFE AFTER LIFE

An essay about the book, Life After Life, by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D.

By

Bill Walker

 

     The book, Life after Life, strives to draw the attention and interest of the reader to the phenomenon of life after death and what, if anything may exist beyond physical death.  Is there another plain of consciousness just beyond our veiled reality?  Or, when we die, is it just lights out for all of eternity?

 

     It does not matter what, religion, race, or social class you come from, we all share two common life elements.  First, a biological birth, and second, an equally biological cease to all body functions, otherwise known as death.  The book follows a wide range of beliefs, feelings, and practices.  A few examples of these would be philosophy, psychology, theology, and medicine.  But even when all of these beliefs and practices are combined the individual is left with little more then his or her own personal convictions when dealing with a subject as shrouded as death.  This usually leaves the individual searching to find a social group or system of beliefs that he or she feels most comfortable with.

 

     The author offers support, almost entirely through interviews, to the theory of life after life, but unfortunately very little factual evidence. (When this book was written the subject was so new that no one really had a clue of how to document this experience. Luckily, this is changing with many modern advances that have taken place since.) At several points throughout the book the author stresses that all of his information is second hand, and that there is little if any practical process for obtaining information on this subject, at this time.  (Fortunately things have changed a great deal since then. This book was written in 1975.)

 

     Dr Moody’s most promising attempt of offering some basis to the theory of life after life comes near the end of the book.  Here, he tries to expel some of the more common explanations for the near death phenomenon, by finding the weaknesses of these explanations.  (Even decades later, these weaknesses are still debated throughout the medical establishment.)  For example, one explanation states that the brain could be experiencing the effects of a lack of oxygen, thus causing the mind to create a hallucinated climax.  However, in many of these cases there wasn’t any physiological stress of the required type for this experience to take place. In other words, there was no lack of oxygen to the brain for the amount of time that it would take for this to occur.  Another explanation given was that most of these patients were sick and hospitalized, and most likely on some sort of drug therapy program at the time of this experience.  Once again, the hypothesis given was that this caused a hallucination or vivid dream.  But, as before, when many of these patient’s charts were evaluated, many were not only, not taking any drugs known for hallucinogenic side effects, many weren’t on any drug therapy at all during their hospitalization.  Dr. Moody then goes onto provide a very interesting, and in my opinion most convincing, set of parallels.  One parallel of many from, The Bible, that may refer to life after death, and near death experiences is, Isaiah 26:19. 

     Thy dead shall live together with my dead body shall they arise.  Awake and sing, ye shall dwell in dust for the earth shall cast out the dead.

     In most of the cases studied those experiencing this phenomenon talked of first rising in the air while also hearing music that was comforting and yet almost foreign to them and being flooded with feelings of rejoice.  And finally almost all of these people had feelings of no longer being of this earth. 

     What I personally find even more remarkable then the passages from, The Bible, were the similarities found in, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book that was written around the eighth century from beliefs that had been passed down from generation to generation of sages.  This book describes a set of stages, including out of body travel by the soul, that are experienced after death.  These stages have an almost uncanny similarity to the stages described to Dr. Moody from people who, almost certainly, had never read or even heard of such a book.

 

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     The book, Life After Life, deals directly with mans greatest fear, or at the very least, his greatest unknown.  This book may someday be looked upon as a steppingstone to further investigation into this most interesting subject. (Though the subject matter from this book had been written about prior to its publication in some journals they were considered of little scientific value. Dr. Moody gave the NDE, or near death experience, its first real legitimacy.) I honestly feel that the day will come when this book becomes a tool that will help many people deal with the fears and apprehension of either losing a loved one, or perhaps accepting their own mortality, resulting in a happier and more productive life experience.

     I have two reasons for believing that this book can be a life changing piece of literature.  One, this book helps to remove the mental block of an ultimate end: leaving us with the hope that there is a better place for which we should strive.  And two, the book gives people some insight into themselves by helping to break through the wall of denial that always seems to shroud death making it possible to consider death with a more open and positive outlook. 

     This was the second time that I have read, Life After Life.  And I was no less amazed this time around then I was the first time.  Why does this book hold so much interest for me?  Because I can closely relate many of my own experiences to the stories and experiences that are shared throughout the book.  Many of my own are equally amazing though I admit to being a bit biased.  And many of my experiences will have to wait for another day, but in my more youthful years these experiences caused me to do a fair amount of soul searching and research into the fields of both the paranormal and parapsychology.  And even many years later I still hold a tremendous fascination in these fields.

     However it was my mother’s near death experience that draws me even closer to the subjects in this paper then anything that I have experienced personally.  In the mid sixties she was in the hospital for a heart valve transplant operation.  The operation itself went very well considering this was a very new procedure using a pigs heart valve that had only been done successfully a few times before this.  In fact there had been only a few minor complications, much fewer then had been expected.  But then ten days post-op, my mother’s heart just stopped beating causing the hospital to call a full code blue to try and resuscitate her.  The following is her story as best as I can remember it.

      “The next thing that I knew after hearing many buzzers and alarms go off, I was standing on the bank of a dark but peaceful river.  Behind me was a wall of fire that I just knew was there, but I didn’t turn around to look at it.  It was right about then that I realized that I would never have to feel anymore pain ever again if I just took one step forward into that river.  It was light on the other side, but I could feel that more than see it, and I’m not really sure how to describe it in any other way.  Then I started to think about my husband and my two boys and that’s when I knew that I wasn’t ready cross over yet.  It was at that very instant that I found myself back in my hospital room with doctors and nurses frantically moving about.”

     Sixteen years later, my mother lay on her death bed.  At one point, after she had coded three times already, I asked her if it hurt to much to stay?  At this point she could no longer speak so she just shook her head, “yes.”  Then I asked her if she had seen the river again?  She only smiled.  I told her the next time she saw it to go ahead and step in.  And again, she smiled.  About two hours later she crossed that river. 

     I know, without a doubt, that when I get to that river and cross it myself I will once again see my mother in perfect health with a smile on her face.  And that is something that I find very reassuring.

 

     Just recently my father told me something that I did not know about this whole episode apparently two psychiatrists documented my mothers experience before she was released from the hospital.  I am going to try and see if I can get Georgetown University Hospital, which was the hospital she was at, to release that documentation to me.  I’m sure that there is a lot more in it than what I have stated here.

 

 

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The Cat and the Rattle Snake (A Short Story about Nature)

THE CAT AND THE RATTLE SNAKE

A Short Story

By

Bill Walker

 

 

     Marsh Mellows frosty white fur fluffed up gently as the breezes of her new home in the Blue Ridge Mountains passed threw it.  Her curiosity quickly demanded that she explore this new environment that was so completely different from the one of her recent suburban past.  Gone were all the paved roads with their perilous dodging between moving cars just to reach the other side.  Also gone were all the sheds and garages that were all-to-often closed without regard to any four footed creature that may have found their way in.  And Marsh Mellow seemed to understand and appreciate these differences.

     What now lay ahead for her were brilliantly brisk autumn afternoons where trees danced in a rainbow of colors over a paradise full of adventures that only a cat could truly appreciate.  Huge boulders became springboards for long joyful sprawling leaps into mounds of soft fallen leaves.  And when Marsh Mellow tired of this then it was off to find one of the many fleet footed rabbits that appeared to have been created for no other purpose then to offer her, as yet uncertain feet in this rugged terrain, the pleasure of a good chase.  A chase that always left her brisling with a feverish, almost kitten like, excitement.

     And then came the darkness of winter, along with her deep impenetrable snow fall’s, sending the land into a state of drab but natural sleep.  Marsh Mellow, like the rabbits, awaited spring’s reawakening in sleepy anticipation.  However spring was almost as bad as winter that year for a cat who watched its icy rains fall day after day, and then week after week.  And then just when she might have thought that she would never again put one paw outside of her new home, the sun broke open the clouds setting life into motion once again beyond her windowed fortress.

     The trees stretched their long grayish brown limbs, while dangling new delicate green finger like leaves, in the warming gentle breezes as they passed effortlessly on by collecting the scents of the awakening that was now well underway.  And not to be outdone by the trees, on the ground, the shrubs and wild blueberry bushes opened their veins letting the life giving sap flow upward threw the tiny branches that would eventually create the shade and ground cover for all the living things that would reside beneath them.  And the ground that had been brown for months on end, magically, turned green once again.

     Marsh Mellow pursued a butterfly as it danced above a small blueberry bush unaware that her harmless game of chase was putting her square in the path of danger.  The sudden rattle from a spot that was both far to close, as well as still unseen, sent her white fur spiking upwards as her muscles instantly tensed to defend herself from this nearly invisible intruder.  With a quick search of the ground beneath the bush Marsh Mellow locked onto those shimmering slits of golden eyes that seemed to be only connected to the dark, musty, earthen floor.  She answered the rattle with a furious his of her own.  An instant passed as cat and snake sized the other up.

     It was instinct alone that caused Marsh Mellow to spring sideways a split second ahead of the snake that shot out from obscurity and across the distance that separated them, only missing its target by the smallest of distances.  Sensing the snake’s sudden disadvantage after the attack Marsh Mellow made a quick lunge for its head only to retreat just as quickly as the snake gathered itself up once again with remarkable speed.  The cat and the rattle snake both held their ground for several moments as they both braced for another attack each knowing that one or the other, or both, would die if this stand off continued.

     Marsh Mellow finally decided that all of the advantages in this underworld of shrubs and weeds belonged to this ground hugging animal that could move like nothing she could have imagined.  And so, with the greatest of caution, she began her retreat from this glaring, unblinking, enemy.  The snake watched as the cat backed off one foot behind the other, inch, by inch.  The winds hushed as the world seemed to hold its breath as the two adversaries watched death fade into the distance that now separated them.

     It wasn’t until Marsh Mellow sensed more then saw, the base of a tree beside her that she took her eyes off of the snake and moved up its trunk passing many a limb in her agile ascent.  When she finally felt a safe distance had been reached she stopped on a secure branch with her heart still pounding rapidly and gazed downward.  It was only then that the snake with almost an equal amount of care began to ease out of his deadly coils and move towards a thicker more protected area of undergrowth several yards away.

     Marsh Mellow knew she could never again be so bold and carefree in this place that was now her home.  And as for the snake, to survive each day was a struggle, and now there was just one more surprisingly fast creature in his world that he would have to be cautious of.

 

 

 

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