In the summer of 1984 if you had asked me the question
do I believe in life after death? I would have said no, definitely
no. When you're dead, you're dead. My mother had died in 1974
ten years before, and it was so undignified. It was so terrible.
That was the one person who I loved more than anything in the
world. What I went through with her dieing of cancer, and what
our family went through, knowing that I couldn't help her. I didn't
know how. It was something that was not taught to me.
I still held that pain that summer, when my son
was coming home from school. I had promised to get him scuba diving
lessons. That was going to be his graduation present. So I planned
the whole summer for him to go and take scuba diving lessons,
and when we got there to the class, the instructor said to me,
"Why don't you take lessons with your son? That way you can go
on vacation together." I thought I can't learn. I'm too old. I
don't know how to swim properly. I'm too weak. He said, "If you
don't like it, you don't have to pay for it." So I jumped in the
class with a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds, and I had an incredible
summer. Then at the end of the summer after Labor Day, he went
back to school, and I continued diving.
It was on the 28th that my
cousin called me and said, "Let's go to Catalina." (It's an island
not far from Los Angeles.) I had asked my cousin if she knew anybody
who could dive. She had a friend in her ski club who was a diver.
So, we buddied up together for a dive at Catalina. It was during
those September days when there is a lot of turbulence in the
water. We caught the boat at 6:00 in the morning, and I with a
hang over of all things!
The boat trip over was terrible. It was stormy
that day and we were all sick. The boat was rocking back and forth,
so we were all very happy when we got off.
The 2 of us, my diving buddy and I, held hands and
walked looking around for a dive shop where we could rent equipment.
I had only brought my mask and my personal gear with me. We needed
wet suits and tanks, and all of that. We went in and out of dive
shops. The weather was starting to get a little warm. Finally
we found a dive shop that had a ¼ of an inch bottom and an1/8
of an inch top, and nothing seemed to fit. This was a new kind
of jacket called a horseshoe. I put it all on and asked, "How
far is it to Casino Point?" (which we were going to dive from)
And was informed, "Only a block away." So I kept my wet suit on
and carried these very, very heavy tanks and a weight belt. I
chatted with my buddy, and we talked about his experience diving.
He hadn't dived in a long time.
We sat on the rocks where we were going to go diving.
The water was slapping up against them real furiously, and the
rocks looked slippery. We decided that we would sit and count
the waves of water as they slapped up against the rocks, because
there is a pattern. We waited for the pattern to change, we figured
after 6 waves, or 7 waves. I don't remember how many, but the
pattern changed, and then we both decided to go in. He said, "Let's
not dive down immediately. Let's swim out away from these rocks."
I said, "OK." So we stayed on the surface for a while swimming.
I got so terribly exhausted that I said, "This is ridiculous!"
I motioned to him that I wanted to go under. It would be much
easier swimming under the water than on top. I signaled with my
thumb down that I was going in. He signaled back to me that it
was okay that we could start our dive now.
Normally I'm very buoyant, so it takes me a lot
of effort to move down to the first level of diving. This time
when I signaled that I was going down I went under and I started
sinking like an elevator, so fast. There must have been a piece
of hair in my mask because the water zoomed into it and filled
it all up. In order to get the water out of your mask you have
to sort of blow through your nose and clear the mask. I was moving
down so fast, yet had to somehow do the same thing, and I had
to hold my nose and let the air out of my ears, because otherwise
I'd get an air squeeze. I kept doing that, (but then the mask
filled with water,) releasing my ears and releasing my ears. I
hit my BC button, which is a button on the jacket that inflates
it to stop my descent, and nothing happened. The jacket didn't
open. I hit it again, and the jacket didn't open. So I signaled
to my buddy who was not far from me. I signaled to him that I
was in trouble. I couldn't get my jacket open and I didn't like
the way that I was descending. It was much too fast. I hadn't
asked the dive master who told us where the dive was how deep
the bottom was. Normally you could sort of lie at bottom and adjust
all of your equipment, but I didn't ask, so it could have been
200 or 300 feet. It could have been only 60 feet. Who knows? I
didn't know. It was mistake. I signaled my buddy, and he signaled
back to me that he was okay.
All of a sudden I saw his fins leaving. He had
left my visibility. My goggles were filled with water, and the
water was so turbulent that I couldn't see him anymore. Then a
strange thing happened. I started to hyperventilate. It only took
three breaths. That's all it took, when my feet and my hands started
to feel like they were mush, almost jelly-like. I had become totally
paralyzed in 3 breaths, sinking like an elevator deep down into
the ocean. I didn't know what to do. I was in total, total panic.
I was telling myself at the time that I was sinking so fast, I
was saying, "Darlene, Darlene please take it easy. Calm down."
I knew that I was dieing. Voices came from my cells from the bottom
of my feet that were now mush, and from my arms, screaming out
like lobsters being thrown into boiling water, "You're dieing,
you're dieing!" in this terrible, terrible scream of terror that
came through me. Then there was another voice, another voice almost
like God's saying, "It's going to be okay. It's all going to be
all right. It will be okay." That kept me conscious during this
entire time, conscious of my death, conscious through this dieing
period. Then as I sucked water into my mouth because I couldn't
hold onto anything, as I sucked the water in, there was a moment
that I was totally, totally exhausted, and I gave up. I said to
myself, "I guess this it. I guess this is it!" And I surrendered
It only took a hundredth of a second, it seemed,
from all the pain and fear and panic. (The pain in my ears had
been so terrible) It only took a second, and everything had gone.
It just left. There was no more pain. There was no more fear.
There was nothing except total wonderment. I was
still conscious and I saw, I thought I saw my scuba diving bubbles,
because I didn't get it that I was dead. I thought they were scuba
diving bubbles, but they were gorgeous, beautiful bubbles that
looked like soap bubbles, or lights moving so fast, and I was
moving fast with them. It was like a quantum leap into another
realm. I moved with these lights and I could see on all sides
of me. I could see behind me, in front of me, underneath me, on
top of me, and I could see that I had no body, only it was still
me! I was still me! I was moving with these bubbles, with these
lights, these living things…fast, so very, very fast.
Then finally we came to a place where we stopped.
It wasn't like a dead stop. It was like a tai-chi type of movement,
soft and beautiful. And what I heard was billions and billions
of voices, like harmonic singing, going right through me, the
song of Love, the song of beauty… And I was singing with it. I
was singing my story, my life story. I was singing the first time
that I touched snow and stepped on it, the first time I kissed
somebody, the first time… I was singing firsts and loves of my
life… And it all became my melody. It felt orgasmic in quality,
like I was on top of a billion orgasms all at once.
There was no time. I was just there.
I was in an experience of timelessness, and yet could feel more
than I ever felt. I could touch more than I ever touched. Everything
went through me. The feeling of love that I felt around me, that
I was part of, that I was, was with me. I was in the now, the
timelessness and yet the incredible beauty, and the incredible
love. And I understood, I understood what my life was at that
moment and why I lived. I understood everything.
Everything was given to me, all of the reasons. It all was given
Through all of this I knew what was happening to
my body. It was sort of like ESP. It was another dimension, like
being on another channel of a television set that if you flipped
you would know what was happening. And I could flip and know what
was happening to my body, that it was being rescued from under
the water, that my buddy had found the weight belt, had gotten
to it and had brought it up. Yet, I was still in the light. I
was still there. I wasn't attached to my body. It was only a body.
It wasn't me. I was in the light.
They brought my body up over the rocks, the slippery
rocks, and they cut through the wet suit. They started with mouth
to mouth, and CPR. They couldn't find any vital signs. I even
thought how funny that they were trying to save this wet suit
and were cutting the seams, and I wasn't in it. I wasn't in my
body. I was far, far into another place, a place that I call heaven.
They brought my body to the hospital, continuing
the CPR. I was never asked; I was never asked do I want to go
back, because I certainly would have said no. Before I knew it
I saw my body, but this time not the way I saw it before. It wasn't
an ESP experience. I saw it very clearly, and "Pop!"
I was back into it.
Now the work really began, for this moment of enlightenment
that I had been honored to experience was so shocking to my system.
It was something that… It was a total paradigm shift in thinking.
And yet I didn't ask for it. I never wanted it to happen. I couldn't
possibly have asked for this type of an experience at that point
in my life. So it took seven years of looking for answers in order
to find my answers and to integrate all of this together. It took
a long time. Most of the things that I kept asking God were, "Why
does he want us in a body?" Why are we living in time, when there
is no time in heaven? What is he giving us? Why is he doing this
for us? What kind of gift is he giving us that we can change,
that we can forgive, that we have the power in body to create
our lives, to create our song, to create our experience in heaven,
that we have at this moment the ability to do that? He has slowed
us down, but really he has made it go much faster then things
in heaven. It's sort of like a motion picture camera. If you speed
it up, it becomes slower and slower. We quantum leaped into something.
What he's done is he's given us the opportunity to edit, to change
our lives, to change our song, to forgive, to forgive ourselves.
He's given us that. How beautiful!
I love you my dear friend. For sure, we all are
going to die. For sure, we all will go. Now is a chance for us
to change and grow. It is going to be such an incredible, wonderful
experience, this metamorphosis that we go through. We do not die.
We never die. This is only a gift. It is a gift that we probably
do many, many, many times in order to give to other people, and
to enjoy our lives, and to have giggles and live in the now. I
love you so much. Be happy and know that I am always, always going
to be with you and that you will always, always be part of my
heart and my song.
This story was transcribed by the web designer from
a recording made in 1993 by Darlene Jaman for her dear friend,
Jerry Florence at his request. Jerry was a professional singer
and songwriter who was dieing from an AIDS related complex at