To comfort a dying friend, she described a blissful experience on a pink cloud.
- Posted on Sep 25, 2020
“What was it like when you died?” my friend Olivene asked me. Her voice was surprisingly strong, given how frail she looked propped against the stark white pillows of her hospital bed.
Her question caught me off guard. I’d never mentioned my near-death experience to her directly. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. In our small, tight-knit church community, news spread fast.
Olivene was dying. At age 98, her body was giving out. But she took the news in stride. She had lived a long life, she assured me. If it was her time to go, then she was ready. I was happy to share my story with her. I pulled my chair closer to her bedside.
“Well, you remember when my husband, Paul, and I went on that cruise last February to celebrate our twentieth anniversary,” I said. Olivene nodded.
Paul and I had desperately needed an escape. His brother had recently died, and the loss had hit him hard. The milestone anniversary seemed like the perfect reason to get away, relax a little and reconnect. Until it all went wrong.
“On the second day of our trip, I blacked out in our cabin,” I said. “All I remember is feeling faint. Then… nothing. Darkness.”
I’d had an aneurysm—a brain bleed. The ship made an emergency stop in Key West. I was airlifted to a hospital in Miami. Luckily, there was a renowned surgeon on call, whose specialty was repairing aneurysms. I was rushed into surgery.
“I woke up in a hospital bed in the recovery room. Paul was right there, comforting me and telling me what had happened during the surgery. Suddenly I flatlined,” I told Olivene. “I rose up out of my body.”
“All the pain was gone. I was floating, hovering above the bed. I was sitting on a cloud. It was the warm pink flush of a summer sunset and soft like silk. Images of my family flashed before me, suffused with the same pink glow. It was like a highlight reel of my best memories of them, all at once. I was meant to understand that yesterday, today and into the future, they were safe and loved. A warm, loving presence enveloped me. Olivene, it was the most blissful feeling I’ve ever felt. So complete.”
“Then I peeked over the edge of the pink cloud. I could see what was going on in the hospital room below. I saw Paul holding my hand as the nurses rushed around, trying to revive me. ‘It’s going to be okay, Beth,’ he told me. ‘Don’t worry. You’re going to get through this.’
“I tried telling him I was already fine where I was. I asked for him to look up at me, to see how happy and peaceful I was in that place. But he couldn’t hear or see me.”
“I could see him, though. I still remember his face, how he had the same devastated expression I’d seen the day his brother died. It broke my heart. I knew he couldn’t take losing me too.”
“I knew then that God was giving me a choice,” I said. “I could stay in this lovely state of bliss or return to my broken body.”
“Olivene, that pink cloud was so inviting. It was tempting to stay there! But I couldn’t ignore my husband’s despair. So I told the Lord, ‘I can’t let him return home without me.’ Then, with one big gasp of air, I came back to my body.
“If Paul hadn’t been there, if he hadn’t still needed me, I wouldn’t have thought twice about not coming back,” I said. “I still think about that beautiful pink cloud, that wonderful place, and part of me looks forward to the day when it’s time for me to return to it.”
Olivene took my hand. She looked serene.
“Thank you,” she said. “Now I know what it’s like where I’m going.”
That was our last visit. Olivene died just days later.
At her memorial service, I thought of my friend sitting in peace on that same pink cloud. It was a peace I had gotten to know firsthand. A gift given to me—one that I was meant to share.
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