“I don’t remember your name, but I love you to death, baby,” I whisper. The slightly yellow and fiddly baby looks up at me in a beam of total peace that I share with her. We’re in a quiet hospital room in a bed under a warm blanket and all is good. Except it is not. “It’s Rosa, you don’t need to call her ‘baby’. You know her name”. My mother is right. This is my Rosa.

I always imagined a near-death experience (NDE) to be excruciatingly painful engulfed in sadness. Even though a quick online search led me to find a Wiki describing an NDE as often being an experience of well-being and painlessness. I can attest to that now.

Experiencing the finiteness of life through a life-threatening illness is not something I would recommend. Unless such an NDE could be moulded into a meditation event followed by a walk in the park with friends completed with a hot cup of cocoa in a room filled with laughter and love. That could be a meaningful event for all. The reality is that such an experience usually is pretty hard-cut and especially painful for those around you who can do nothing but hold on to doctors to fix you. There is a before and an after to an NDE.

It’s a light switch turning off and on, before you even get the chance to truly grasp what just happened.

It is being alive afterwards that made me a different person. My brain turned on its functions again, one after the other. Do you remember the first time you felt rain streaming down your face while riding a bike? The sensation of someone touching your skin? The first time eating snow? The sound of laughter? I do now. How can we ever replicate those ‘firsts’? How can we hold on to them? The aftermath of an NDE is like seeing the world anew through the eyes of a child, only you yourself being that child again.

Previously, as a grown-up, I never woke up with an appreciation for yet another day. I just woke up. Period. But now it hits different. My days are filled with an awe for life. The simple getting to be here. Experiencing the finiteness of life brought the gift of an unceasing awe. I wish that awe for you, too. Because if all we have is this life, there is no leeway to take it for granted.

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