Marla has given us permission to share her near-death experience. Several
months ago, shortly after going home from Craig, Marla was trying to communicate
something to Mary and Leo. She pointed at the months of the calendar that
had passed since her accident to let them know it was something she had
been wanting to tell them for a long time. Unable to use words to express
herself, she drew a beautiful picture that said it all. As Leo and Mary asked
her questions, the story emerged, leaving all three deeply moved.
She drew two clouds, one small and one large. On the smaller was
a figure like an angel. When asked if the figure was her, she nodded,
“Yes.” She said “heaven above,” and waved. Mary asked if she was
waving good-bye to herself. Marla nodded, acknowledging the fear and
pain of the accident.
The larger cloud represented God. There she felt safe, calm, peaceful, loved
and welcomed. She then added the figure of Jesus to the larger cloud, arms
open and reaching toward her. She was tearful when Mary asked her is she ever
wished she could go back, and her emotion intensified when she nodded yes. Leo
then said, “Now we know why you have always nodded when all these months we
end our prayers with ‘God loves you’.” What a treasure to have inside, knowing
God loves you. Marla became calm, yet wistful. Mary wrote in her journal:
“I am in awe of my daughter, her spirit, her inner beauty of joy and peace, her
resiliency and strength.” What an intimate moment to share as a family!
A family friend, Liz Beerman, was moved by Marla’s drawing to write a narrative
story interpreting her experience. Liz’s story follows:
Whew! Impossible as it sounded, she had almost completed thirty years with her feet on the ground.
Time, like shimmering grains of sand had slipped seamlessly through her fingers.
And Oh ! The people she had met along the way had made the journey amazing.
There were those who had held her while she cried, or jumped with joy as she laughed.
There were timid outstretched hands of children longing for her certain steps and engaging questions.
She had experienced love. She had given her heart to so many.
She loved the strength and solidarity of the mountains.
Her heart craved the days spent in celebration of new snows and spring flowers.
She climbed, and hiked, skied and biked at every opportunity and
sent back whoops and whispers of wonder and gratitude to Him.
“Can I speak with you a moment?” He asked. “Of course” she replied.
Time stood still. Through twisted metal and splintered glass He reached down and took her hand.
It was quiet. The wonderment of it all caused her to shut her eyes tight.
She took deep breaths and felt every part of her being melt into the peace.
She looked down and saw the confusion and urgency – and she knew it didn’t matter.
She knew she was safe. She felt no pain, no sorrow, no loneliness.
She wondered for a moment if this is what it felt like to be an angel.
Floating effortlessly on this cloud and knowing He was near filled her with light and miraculous life.
She never ever wanted to forget this feeling.
His hand closed around hers and they walked awhile. “What have you learned?” He asked.
“That everything is unbelievably important”, she answered.
“Every step, every sunrise, every hug, every time I pet my animals, plant a flower or share a story.
Every tear, every laugh, every word spoken in anger or forgiveness matters.
Every person whose life I have touched, or who has touched mine changes everything.
Every moment is a gift, a precious gift that holds more value than gold or diamonds.
And everything that is valuable or important to us, is important to You.”
“But why am I here?” she asked. “I needed a moment with you” He answered.
“I have some special gifts that need to be distributed and I needed a very special person to do it for me.
You will find that this will not be an easy task.
You will find that things that came easily before may be difficult for you now.
You may struggle with the day, and question why.
You may look out and see the world differently than you did before.
You will be My special messenger and I will be right here … right here next to you through it all.”
“Am I an angel?” she whispered. He smiled and said, “You are more.”
He touched her eyes and said, “look no more for beauty outside yourself
for I have given you the gift of heavenly sight. Listen no more for man made
sounds for I have given you the gift of heaven’s music.
Reach no more for earthly matters for I have given you wings to lift you high.
You have everything you need to complete the marvelous life I have fashioned for you.”
Then He gently continued, “Will you carry My gifts for Me?”
She nodded and smiled. She closed her eyes tight to capture each brilliant ray of light in her heart.
She had no idea what the questions would be. She just knew that she had Him… she had all the answers.
She opened her eyes slowly. Through a hazy glow she could see her parents’ faces.
Were they smiling or were those tears? If only she could tell them what she knew.
But that would have to wait … for now, it was enough to just open her eyes.
“She’s back”, the nurse whispered. “Welcome back, Marla.”
Everyone standing there was smiling, or reaching out to each other,
or hugging, or wiping away tears.
There was astonishment, and wonder, joy and guarded anticipation.
All because she had opened her eyes. The gift giving had begun…