How A Near Death Experience Changed Everything
By Eva R Marienchild
For many of his 50-something years, a severely depressed Bill Smyth* was living his life as if it didn’t matter. “Looking back,” he says, “I don’t know how I kept going.”
In 2000, he and his then-wife lost a son who was less than a year old. As happens with many marriages where the loss of a baby is involved, the marital union came undone. “My ex said she was miserable having me around. She couldn’t look at me without seeing a baby,” said Bill. “In order for her to be happy, we parted. We’re still good friends.”
Talking about his son’s death still hurts, says Bill. “Joseph’s little lungs hadn’t developed. A decision was made to take him off life support.” He pauses, his voice far away. “The only time he smiled was right before he died. Then, he just seemed to relax and let go.”
That observation was a striking forerunner of what was to follow.
The Old Bill
“As recently as a year ago, I was obsessed with death,” says Bill. The local graveyards were full of his loved ones. “People kept dying left and right. I took to walking through gravesites just to calm myself. There, nobody could hurt you and you couldn’t get close to anyone. I wanted to be one of them. I couldn’t wait to die. I was in plenty of accidents and kept getting hurt.” It was as if Bill Smyth were tempting fate.
In the spring of 2010, Bill had a triple bypass. “I certainly wasn’t exercising or eating right,” he said. “As manager for a major telecommunications firm, I was on the road all the time. I was running a team, going from one neighborhood to another. I’d grab a cheeseburger and work 12- or 13-hour days, then come home and do four or five hours of paper work at night.
I’d have to fix all the mistakes everybody made; count all the money; do a bank deposit. Depending on the town, there were sometimes four or five different bank deposits. It was a nightmare…very stressful. I was doing that for maybe three years.”
The workaholic streak appeared the day after the baby died, says Bill, and lasted a decade. “I also started working two or three jobs. I had no time for anybody. It was just work, work, work. After so much loss you get to the point where nothing matters,” he said. “I wondered if God was torturing me, to see how much suffering a person could take. I almost cursed God for letting me wake up most mornings. ‘Just take me in my sleep.’ I would pray.
I used to hate my job–I used to hate everything. And I wasn’t so close to my family. After the baby died I shut myself off from everybody. I worked merely to survive. After work, the other guys would go out but I wouldn’t. I was a hermit. I wanted to be left alone.
A Wake-Up Call
Then one day I started having chest pains and I had the good sense to get myself to a hospital. I caught the heart attack in time. All three arteries were 95% blocked. The cholesterol was up real high and they couldn’t even calculate the triglycerides.
They told me: ‘It’s a miracle you didn’t drop dead months ago.’
They put me through heart catheterization to see what caused the chest pains. They saw I needed a triple bypass. When the doctors told me they were going to take my heart out of my chest and repair it and stick it back in, it was scary for a moment, but there was no panic. ‘Whatever…’ I thought. It’s like I was dead inside. I wasn’t excited to live or die. That was the attitude I had going in.
As I was losing consciousness, I felt something magical. I floated off and somebody must have caught me and done something to me. I heard familiar voices, and they weren’t the doctors’ or nurses’ voices. It seemed as if they were of people I knew from years ago. People who loved and cared about me were around that operating table. I couldn’t identify them. There was a jumble of voices.
A big warm feeling came over me, like a heat that radiated from my heart before they even cut. The people behind the voices were almost touching me. It was almost like the peace I used to feel when I was a kid and my mom, whom I lost two years ago, used to rock me and sing to me.
If anything had ever scared me, it was the act of death itself. But it’s not what I thought. God spares you the pain. You close your eyes and float away and people you love are waiting. The mattress swallowed me and I just sank. I was totally relaxed.”
Time didn’t factor into it, Bill said, but “they had me under so long that they thought I had gone into a coma. They put me out at noon and I didn’t come out of the anesthetic until 4:30 in the morning the next day. There was plenty of time for a tour on the Other Side…and for teachings.”
I Wanted To Live
Bill reflects on how it may have been a self-induced coma. “My life had been so stressful and so full of pain. I was in a moment of peace for the first time in my life. I must have been fighting it; not wanting to come out.
When I woke up, I knew right away something had happened. I almost felt like someone had shared the secrets of the universe. It was some sort of revelation but I can’t remember what. I had a whole other attitude on life. I decided, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I was going to make it.
Do you know what it felt like, after I awoke in the hospital? It felt as if I had just come back from school. I was really excited, like when you are looking forward to a great event in your life: a marriage; or you’ve won the lottery and can’t wait for the lottery office to open on Monday.
I felt an anticipation that something incredible was going to happen. I wracked my brain trying to remember. Either your mind can’t hold it in or your guides take the memory because God wants you to enjoy what you’ve got here, first. He doesn’t want you to worry. Everything will be yours in time.
I had my purpose! God had plans that I hadn’t fulfilled. ‘I’m going to do something great,’ I thought. I finally know what it is.’ I must have been told, ‘You’re not going to remember, but you will know what it is, when the time is right.’”
A Completely Different Person
The new Bill emerged like a butterfly from a cocoon. “I’m a completely different person. When I was put under I had a big old hole that was never filled, but I woke up feeling excited for the first time ever. It’s almost like I was half-empty and I came out full. I might have seen my son or it could have been that I know that I will see him again.
Or maybe I spent time with my mom or my dad. Who knows? All I know is that I felt complete for the first time. I was in all kinds of pain and all hooked up and yet I felt whole. Rather than counting the days until I died, I woke up after surgery wanting to live as much as possible!
Even the nurse said that, for someone who had a tube jammed down my throat, was strapped to a table and had three tubes sticking out of his chest, and a catheter, I woke up so peaceful. Most people pull against restraints, panicked. ‘You’re the first one I’ve seen in a long time that just woke up as if you were taking a nap,’ the nurse said.
When most people would be horrified–there’s a big ugly scar and I can’t eat the same way and most of my life changed–I was praising God for letting me come back.
I Was the Last Guy They’d Expect to Preach
Did people believe me when I spoke of my NDE? Well, people that know me believe me more than most. But I would be the last guy they’d expect to come out preaching, or saying I’d seen heaven.
They expected me to come out and say: ‘Nothing happened. I told you we were worm food.’ Instead, I came back full of life and joy and they looked at me like: ‘Something happened to him.’
I not only speak differently, but my life has changed drastically. Everyone thought: ‘He’ll be back to himself in a day or so.’ But I haven’t gone back. Something happened. And I am stronger in that change, every day.
The Road Back To Health
At the hospital, they get you up and walking within 30 minutes. It feels like somebody is shooting you. Every time you take a deep breath it hurts; plus your ribs are broken [a common occurrence during bypass surgery].
I knew the only way I could get the tubes out was to show improvement. They told me 17 laps around the nursing station were equal to one mile. One day I got up and did the 17 laps. It about killed me. ‘We’ve never seen somebody walk that far that quick after surgery,’ they said. I was determined. There was something I had to do. ‘I can’t be spending all my time inside the hospital,’ I thought. ‘Whatever God’s plan for me is, it won’t be inside the hospital.’
I used to be passive. The old me would have walked to the hall and back to the bed. I was amazed at how fast I was recovering. I shocked a lot of people. I was pushing myself. I’d never been one to push myself to go for a goal–other than work. All of a sudden here I am battling to get my life back.
I wanted to be out of there and enjoying my life. Somebody showed me something while I was gone. It totally put something inside me that changed my whole way of looking at the world.
I ended up going to work three to four weeks before they wanted me to. I begged the doctor to sign the paper that let me do that.”
The New Bill
Since then, Bill says, “I leave more time for my fiancé, Anna, and more time for me.”
Bill feels God put Anna on his path. “She was the one that God wanted me to find, if I had just waited. I still have mutual friends with my ex, who gave Anna a good reference; I guess because I took care of her when she was sick. Now it was Anna’s turn to take care of me. I’ve never before had someone put their own needs aside and put mine first as she does.
I used to find excuses not to go home. Now I can’t wait to see Anna. I make the money as quickly as I can so I can get back to her. I never experienced anything like that. This kind of deep, unconditional love. Anna brings things out in me that I didn’t know I had. She makes me a better person just being near her. I didn’t know someone like that existed. She’s the “real deal”. God’s gift for a lifetime of pain, and for not ending my life.
Anna won’t let me drink soda now and fixes me healthy dinners. She forces me to go to the gym twice a day. In the morning we’re on the treadmill an hour. At night, there’s another hour on the treadmill. I made her a promise that I’ll give her another 40 years. She told me: ‘No matter what happens, I’m not going anywhere.’ She knows I get straight commission. We were penniless, at one point, and other women would have taken off. But she said: ‘I’ll live in cardboard box with you if I have to.’
His work life is different, too.
“I see my job now as taking people who don’t have work and helping them. It’s a blessing for them and for me. But I don’t take the job as seriously. I don’t go out of my way to volunteer for extra projects. I used to have other managers calling me up at 1 or 2 in the morning and have a conference call.
Go Out and Touch Somebody Else
Lots of people notice the change. I’m a lot calmer. I don’t stress out and freak out over the job anymore. My temper is gone. I used to have a flare-up. ‘Leave me alone for five minutes,’ I used to say. I don’t anymore. I found patience. I spend time with the family. I realize how important all of life is.
I set limits. I only work certain hours and I go straight home to Anna. I’m not doing paperwork and conference calls at all hours. If they want to get a hold of me, they can talk to me while I’m at work. It’s a 110 degree turnaround.
Before, when forming a team, I couldn’t find anybody who would pass a drug test or did not have a felony. Now I’m recruiting people like my newest employee, Patricia, who’s excited about her job. One of the things I tell my people in training is that, if you can go out there and touch somebody else, it can make your whole day so much better. One of the new thoughts that I have now is that our goal is to try to be a blessing to somebody everyday. Even if a customer is not going to buy from you, stop and help them out.
If you see an old lady struggling with her groceries, assist her. It’ll come back to you. She might have ten friends who want to buy (but that’s not why you should help her). I used to be a miserable boss. But now I realize that people don’t care how much you know, because they know how much you care.
I put a lot more of my personal feelings into my new team. I know them more as people. I know what’s going on in their lives. I say: ‘You tell me what kind of money you need and I’ll do what I can to help.’ It’s about changing people’s lives. For example, Patricia, the new recruit, is grateful for the opportunity to work. She’s all pumped up and I just know that her life is about to change for the better.
A lot of the people I’ll be working with were looking for a job for a year. Now it’s not about numbers. It’s about: Whose life can I help change? Can I make it better?
What Would I Tell Someone In My Shoes?
The secret to life isn’t surviving, but touching as many people as you can while you’re here. The other day while I took Patricia around, she made her first sale. She just connected with a lady coming off a bad divorce, like her. They were hugging and crying and Patricia even offered to drive her to church or anywhere she needed to go, because this poor lady doesn’t have a car.
To see the excitement and hear her exclaim: ‘Wow, I can make money at this!’ was great. I felt as if she was one of my kids, taking her first step.
So you see how it works? It’s like a chain. I was supposed to find Patricia and hire her to find this lady, because they were supposed to meet. He puts people across our path. We are all part of a master plan. There are lives to be touched and people to be saved and people that need someone.
I see the things God’s doing in people’s lives. I tell myself that I know, going in, something good is going to happen…and it does.
It’s incredible how one person can touch so many others. You do something nice and eventually it will trickle down to someone across the world and lead to a whole brighter planet. Everybody’s connected.
What would I tell someone who was in my shoes? I’d say: ‘Stop being depressed. You will be with your people eventually. By being depressed, you take away from the people watching over you. They don’t want you to be depressed and miserable. Be happy now…and then be happy when your time comes to join them. Depressed, you get farther and farther away from God. If you want to see your loved ones, you don’t want to end up in darkness. You won’t be where they are, if you do. Get over the pain.”
Bill has a theory as to why this happened to him. “Before, I couldn’t see God in the world, but now I see Him everywhere. I probably had to have a heart attack to convince myself. My heavenly guides must have thought: ‘He’s one of those people who need to see it to believe it.’
I had a different idea of heaven. I was told by some religious fanatic that God takes away our memory of people that we love, when we die. I know that isn’t the case. I got a glimpse of heaven. That might have been the purpose for my heart problem. ‘You can say you have faith’, my guides were probably saying, ‘but now you know it exists. Now you go and live your life with some joy and happiness, and you will not turn into worm food. You have an incredible journey after this one’s over.’
I started going to church, which I haven’t done in years–since the baby died. I wake up feeing good as opposed to feeling cursed. It’s almost like I left hell and got to come back to heaven (here on earth). The sun’s a lot brighter. I notice things I used to take for granted. Now I take walks on the beach, communing with God. I sniff the air. I look at the little shells.
I’m breathing a lot easier as my arteries aren’t clogged up. It’s amazing to still be here and not the way I was before. I don’t know how I managed to hang around. I was such a miserable human being. I was probably one of the most depressed people I’ve ever seen.
It still hurts when I think of those that have gone before–but I can deal with it now. I had a hard time believing there was something else. Now I know for a fact that there is. Everything has changed. I laugh when I think that I used to cross the street saying: ‘Maybe someone will run me over.’ Now I spring out of bed, happy to be here, thinking: ‘I wonder what kind of miracles I’m going to encounter today.’
*Bill’s full name has been changed to protect him and his family’s confidentiality.
Eva R. Marienchild Bio:
Eva R. Marienchild writes about all matters spiritual, health, legal and scientific. She has been collecting information on alternative health and on healing yourself for over a decade, and is a Better Living Life Coach. Eva has studied and translated NDE’s and turns to her celestial guides for growth and empowerment. Her site is http://happyhealthbilingual.posterous.com/.
“Future Love Story,” Eva’s inspirational adventure tale, can be found here.