6: Hope

6: Hope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven


Is death the last sleep?
No — it is the last and final awakening.

~Sir Walter Scott

I took my mom to the ER one evening because she said she wasn’t feeling well. When we got there, I went upstairs to the nursing supervisor’s office to tell her that I wouldn’t be at work the next day. I was in the elevator when I heard a code blue called in the ER, and I knew it was my mom.

Many times I had worked a code, so I knew exactly what to expect. The ER ward clerk was watching for me and she ushered me to the “quiet room.” This is the room they take family members to tell them their loved one has passed away. I called my sister and told her she needed to come to the hospital.

It seemed like we waited for an eternity, when two of Mom’s doctors came into the quiet room. I had worked at this hospital for five years; I knew both of these doctors very well and trusted their judgment. My mom’s primary doctor had tears in his eyes when he told me she was gone. He explained that he tried everything, and asked me to get in touch with my dad. We needed to decide what funeral home we wanted to come pick up my mom’s body. As long as I live, I will never forget my sister on her knees in that little room crying and praying.

While I was trying to get in touch with my dad, the doctor came back in. The nurse had found a heartbeat while removing the monitors. He told me not to expect much, that he didn’t think she would make it through the night. Mom was on a ventilator and she would be moved to ICU. He then told me, “If by the grace of God she does live, she will be a vegetable. She went fifteen minutes without any oxygen to her brain.” My sister and I spent the night with her in that hospital room. My mom had one seizure after another all night, and I felt so guilty for letting the doctors intubate her. I felt like I was making her suffer needlessly, and as a nurse I knew what she would face if she did survive. We would have to decide whether to insert a feeding tube to keep her alive or let her go.

The next morning, the doctor came in and seemed surprised my mom had lived through the night. But he still didn’t offer me any hope.

After he left, I noticed my mom’s eyelids fluttering. As I leaned over her bed, she opened her eyes and looked directly into mine. The nurse in me was thinking that her eyes looked clear and she didn’t look like an oxygen-deprived patient. So I asked, “Mom, how are you feeling?” My mother was still intubated but she managed to mouth around that tube, “I’ve been better.” I was overjoyed and shocked at the same time. The nurse in me knew this was impossible, but the spiritual person that I am was praising God.

Everyone at the hospital was in shock. The doctors called my mom “the miracle.” Three days later, when mom came off the ventilator, she told everyone that would listen to her about her “trip.” She talked about floating over her body and seeing the doctors and nurses working on her. She saw my sister and I in the quiet room, and she knew that my sister was on her knees crying and praying.

She talked about being in a black tunnel. She said to the right wall of this tunnel was a whirlpool — that was the gate to hell. She must have been in a wheelchair and someone was pushing her, she said, because she knew she wasn’t walking. She talked about a light at the end of the tunnel. But when she got to the light, it wasn’t a light but two big, shiny white doors — the pearly gates. She went through those doors and into a beautiful, peaceful place. She saw flowers she had never seen before, colors were vivid and prettier than “what we have here,” and sidewalks sparkled. And, she said, “In heaven we get to wear our favorite clothes.”

She told me my grandmother, her mother-in-law, walked toward her and was smiling. My grandmother never spoke to her. “She took me by the hand, smiled at me and shook her head no,” Mom said. “And the next thing I remember, you were in my face asking me how I felt.”

If I heard this story from anyone else, I would have thought it was a drug-induced hallucination. But this was from my momma, so I know in my heart this is exactly what happened to her. I am thankful that God let me experience this because it has brought me so much comfort. I hope by sharing this, it will also be a comfort to someone else.

~Brenda Louque

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