In her final days, his grandmother shared a near-death experience of communicating with an angel that looked like a princess.
- Posted on Dec 27, 2020
Nana my beloved grandmother, was in the hospital with bone cancer, and I’d picked up my mom so we could spend the afternoon with Nana together. It was hard to imagine that her days on earth were dwindling. She’d lived with such exuberance.
”I still remember those doctors who said she’d die young from a weak heart,” Mom said on the way over.
“She outlived all of them,” I said. “That weak heart never stopped her.”
Not in the least. Mom again reminded me of Nana’s journey from Germany to the U.S. in the 1920s. That couldn’t have been easy. Once she was here, she practically single handedly founded a Lutheran church in her new hometown. I could picture her walking through the neighborhood inviting everyone to come. Once the church was settled, Nana served as its head caretaker, supervising the cleaning and maintenance.
”I remember the other ladies who worked there,” Mom said with a laugh. “Nana would have them polishing those pews until they shone. She always wanted the church to look its best to welcome visitors.
Nana’s own home was just as welcoming. My family lived with both my grandparents for a while when I was growing up. Nana raised three children of her own and fostered countless others, many of them living with her until they got married right in Nana’s living room. They became frequent visitors after that. There was always a crowd around the table for Sunday dinner.
It seemed as if Nana would always be taking care of others, until cancer took its toll. Sometimes when Mom and I arrived at her bedside, she’d be asleep or not up to talking. But that afternoon, Mom and I found her sitting up, wide awake and in good spirits.
“I had a visitor last night,” she announced excitedly. This was the Nana I knew. No one was a better host, even in a hospital room.
“That’s great,” Mom said. “Was it a friend from church?”
Nana shook her head. “I’d never seen her before. She came in right through that wall.” She pointed to the solid wall opposite her bed.
“Through the wall?” Mom said, shooting me a worried look. Was Nana hallucinating?
“Yes,” Nana said. “Late last night that wall opened up and a princess entered through it—a beautiful princess with sparkles and lights. We had a nice talk, then she went back out through the wall.”
Mom and I were speechless. Nana had never lost touch with reality before. We were careful not to show our distress or pepper her with questions. We just nodded and said how nice the princess sounded. I ducked out to find the doctor, and he came back with me to examine her.
“Hello, doctor”, said Nana, as if it was just another day. She cheerfully answered all of his questions: What year was it, what was her name, who was the president? Nana was clearly in her right mind, and we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with no more talk of the princess.
Nana died peacefully in the hospital a few weeks later. She didn’t have any other hallucinations. I was grateful for that, at least. I hated to think of Nana imagining people who weren’t there. Nana who had welcomed so many into her own home and church throughout her life.
I didn’t think about the incident much after that—until years later, when I was running a grief group at my church. I wanted to help others, something I hoped Nana would be proud of. It was in my preparation for the group that I encountered fascinating studies about angel escorts. I immediately wondered if an angel had come to lead Nana to the Lord’s house. And then I came across first hand descriptions of angel escorts from those who’d had near-death experiences. Several accounts told of an angel who looked like a princess surrounded by sparkling lights.
That’s when I knew without a doubt: Nana hadn’t had even one hallucination. She’d seen the angel who was there to comfort her in the end, an angel with every bit of the exuberance with which Nana lived all the days of her long and blessed life.
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