I have had another OBE.What have I done to deserve this you may well ask.

May I clarify here that I do not refer to “Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (though I could yet be surprised) nor “Open Back-End” (whatever that means), or “Operating Base Earthquake”, ”Outcome-Based Education”, “Ottawa Board of Education” or “Overcome By Events”.

Mind you this last one does make some sense.

What I am referring to is the so called “Out-of-Body Experience”.

Three times in my life I have had experiences where I’ve had a sensation where I felt that I had left my physical body. An OBE.

On the first two occasions I confess I was under the influence of drugs – in each case given to me by doctors.

The first occasion was when I had my first kidney stone in my mid twenties. I was in excruciating pain and my doctor gave me pethidine. This is a strong pain killer which really worked on me. I recall that the pain just seeped away and I floated gently to the ceiling and found myself looking down on Vivienne who was at my side in the bed.

Vivienne, my darling wife, has always been there at my side.

I first met her after the death of my childhood sweetheart and first wife who died in the early stages of pregnancy aged just 21.

I met Vivienne rather soon after the trauma of the loss of Mary.

Vivienne has always been there for me though it took me several months to even realise she was around. All I know now is how much I love her.

I don’t quite know how to express this but Vivienne and Mary sit alongside each other in my affections, though Mary was then, and Vivienne is now.

I have had other kidney stone events since that first, but since then but nobody has prescribed such medical relief for me, later doctors just insisted I drink a lot and “pass the stone”. Somehow that has worked but the pain was excruciating each time.

The other OBE I referred earlier was on my holiday at Club Med in Martinique where I joined a group of young medics from Miami who offered something to smoke.

But what I want to tell you is a story about a young lady who worked as a nurse in the hospital she had died in thirty years ago.

She had contracted peritonitis and this was all too much for her frail body which was dealing with other problems. As hard as they tried the doctors could not save her.

As the last breath left her body she found herself standing at the side of her bed surrounded by the doctors and nurses. An entity put a large bony hand on her shoulder and invited her to come with him.

A deep hollow voice said suggested to her that she now had a choice. “Your work on earth is not quite done. You were not due to go to heaven until you were 51, but as yet you are only 21.

“You could spend the next thirty years here in Purgatory but I will offer you an alternative. You can work alongside me as a Reaper.”

The entity went on to explain what her duties would be.

“You have come back to this hospital where you will find you are no longer a patient but a volunteer nurse. A very good nurse, your patients will love you.

“Your task is to collect the souls of the newly passed away. You will know who they are and where they are destined to go and you will take them there.

“Time will mean nothing to you and you will be here until your time has come and I will collect you myself.”

“You will find that you are not alone. There are others like yourself around and again you will know who they are.

A man and a woman appeared and she knew who they were. And the Reaper himself disappeared.

Without saying anything Mary set about her new duties somehow knowing exactly what she had to do.

The three of them worked on the wards of the hospital “catching and despatching” as her colleagues Bill and Lily described it.

To the doctors, nurses, patients and everybody who encountered them, there was nothing remarkable about them. Bill, Mary and Lily were familiar faces to all yet nobody really noticed that they were always there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Each time a patient died one of them would be there to collect them.

As Mary was soon to learn, by no means everybody who she came to was about to pass on to another place. As many as one in three she met had only a brief encounter with her. Sometimes she would see the same individual more than just once. Fortunately they rarely recalled meeting with her or her colleagues before.

Often at the hospitals sleep clinic she would encounter the same individual several times in a night. Her job was always to cause them to breath because of their sleep apnea problem.

If a person’s time is up Bill, Mary and Lily have a despatch note which explains which light the soul is to be taken to. But if the person was not due to pass on, then it was up to each of them to comfort the person, revive them and send them back to their living body.

When I met Lily she explained this to me though frankly did not believe her. Why should she be telling me this?

And then I realised, it was because I had just died and she was taking me to …..

“Where am I going to?” I asked Lily.

“You are not going anywhere right now, you are just having what the living call an out-of-body experience. Your heart had stopped during the kidney stone operation and the surgeon is about to resuscitate you.

“Don’t worry you will be fine”.

I asked her how long I will live but there was no answer.

When I came round after the operation I told Vivienne that I had a vivid dream. I could not recall that much about it but I described my version of the out-of-body experience.

The next two years were fine until last night and the heart attack.

Vivienne collapsed whilst making dinner for all the family. Our son Jimmy called the ambulance and the paramedics were with us within minutes, though it seemed an age to us.

They did what they could for her and then took her to the ambulance.

I wanted to go with her of course, but the ambulance driver wanted me to travel separately. I insisted though, explaining I had had alcohol to drink and was not in a legal state to drive. Reluctantly I was allowed onto the ambulance.

The sirens rang out whilst we took off at speed for the twenty minute journey to the hospital.

Then we had the crash. The ambulance tumbled over and over and we tumbled sideways into a ditch, there was this awful smell of diesel and then the explosion.

Mary’s two colleagues were with us.

Bill and Lily took the driver and paramedic and led them to this light and this shadowy figure took Vivienne.

Lily returned and explained that once again it was not my time.

Now I am in hospital and a male nurse has just given me some pain killers. The scar from my kidney operation has ruptured from the crash impact and I am not very well.

I have a fever.

I am floating.

I am looking down at my damaged body and I no longer feel any pain.

And there is Mary, no I’m confused it’s Vivienne.

And suddenly I can see Mary is Vivienne, Vivienne is Mary.

And she takes my hand as we go off to the light, reunited.

Copyright © Stuart Danton 2007


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