“The Day I Started Living”
By Shawn R. Jones
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
My mother is not sure what came first—the hives or the convulsions. The doctor gave her a shot of penicillin. Her body convulsed. Shoes flew off her feet. Hives closed off her airway. She scratched at her neck, trying to make a hole to breathe. As one of the nurses said, “Oh my God, doctor, she’s dying,” my mother watched her own hand turn gray and stiffen.
A doctor and nurses tried to restore my mother’s breathing. As she watched from the ceiling, she thought comically, “Wow, they’re really working hard to bring me back.” Next, there was nothing but darkness. Then, there was a brilliant light, a light so brilliant she could not see the man’s face who had on a robe with his arms outstretched. He showed her everything she had done wrong in her life. My grandmother, who had died five years prior, was there also, speaking in my mother’s defense, reminding him of all the good her daughter had done.
My mother was active in her community, helping the underprivileged even though she was the underprivileged. She volunteered for Welfare Rights, NarcoticAddictsRecoveryCenter, and the Community Development Block Grant Program. She sat on several boards and was also a mother, struggling to raise a child in the projects.
My mother pleaded with the man, whom she now refers to as Jesus. “I can’t die now. I would stay here with you, but I have an eight-year-old daughter, and she doesn’t have anyone but me. She is just not ready for this.”
The man spoke calmly in the most beautiful voice my mother had ever heard. “Rhonda, scream. Just scream.”
My mother tried to scream. It was very difficult at first, but once she was able to get a bit of sound out, she saw a glimpse of the room where her earthly body lay. Whenever she would stop screaming, there would be darkness. The longer she screamed, the longer she saw the light of the room, so she began to scream uncontrollably. The doctor and nurses tried to calm her down, explaining that they had just given her a shot of adrenalin. Regarding her return, my mother has often said, “They think they brought me back, but it wasn’t them.”
After that ordeal, my mother just wanted to get home to make sure I was okay, but the doctor called an ambulance to transport her to the hospital. Meanwhile, I was home worried because she had not come home from work. My uncle picked me up and took me to the hospital to see her. When I got there, she was sitting in a wooden wheelchair, looking exhausted with bloody scratches on her neck. I asked her what happened. She grabbed my hands, looked into my eyes, and said the most meaningful thing I have ever heard her say. She enunciated each word slowly and sincerely. “Shawn, don’t you ever ask me again if there is a God, because there is a God.”
Prior to that day, which was October 8, 1976, I had often asked my mother, “Is there a God? Is God real?” One day she answered, “No. I don’t know, Shawn. When you die, you just go in the ground.” Yet she continued to read The Lord’s Prayer to me every night before bed, so I wasn’t fully convinced. Well, after October 8, 1976, I was fully convinced that there was a God, and I never asked her again.
My mother says, “October 8, 1976 is the day I started living.” Psychiatrists tried to convince her that she had imagined the whole incident, and others said it didn’t make sense biblically. Regardless of what others have to say about the validity of my mother’s story, the incident changed her life for the better. She became even more helpful in her community. She sent me to Sunday school, and she began to appreciate things on earth like grass, trees, and even concrete. For the first time, she could truly see the miracles on earth and look forward to spending eternity with Jesus.
Dear Lord, You have decorated heaven and earth with Your magnificent glory, divine creativity, and awesomeness, and I am so grateful that You have blessed me with the opportunity to enjoy both heaven and earth. Amen.
By Shawn R. Jones,
Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames
(Ambassador International, 2011)
Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames http://shawnrjones.com/books
and the poetry chapbooks, Womb Rain and A Hole to Breathe