I have never had a near death experience.
You know, it is when you stop breathing, are technically dead, and approach heaven usually down some type of tunnel with a light at the end.
There are those who firmly believe this happened to them. Others believe it is just the brain, showing the person something they heard about before. You know, like a dream.
Books have been written about this phenomenon. It has been the topic of talk shows. The experience has been debated by the medical and religious experts.
I had also heard about a shared death experience before, but I wasn't really sure what it was. Something to do with feeling another person's death from a distance.
I'm not really sure how I feel about the subject. I hadn't really given it much thought.
Strangely, I talked to two separate people last week, who do not know each other.
One told me about his near death experience and the other about her shared death experience.
Both are passionate about what happened to them, and the experience has shaken them and literally changed their lives. It was very interesting just to hear them tell their stories.
Dr. Kevin Kimm is the subject of our cover story in our Medical Guide magazine included in this week's Faribault County Register.
The story is about how he almost died, several times, and his long hard road back from being in a coma and then unable to eat, breathe or move to becoming a fully functional person again.
When he woke from his coma and doctors asked him what he remembered, he told them he remembered dying. And he remembered it vividly.
Like others have also related, he was walking upwards in some type of tunnel, towards an area that was brightly lit.
In this brightly lit area were his mother and his dog, Chloie.
As he rushed up to greet his mother, who died quite a few years ago, she put up her hands and told him to stop, and to go back down the tunnel. He protested and continued and she yelled at him to stop and turn around.
God is not ready for you yet, she told him. He has other plans for you. You have to go back.
So, he obeyed, turned around and went back down the tunnel.
It was a very vivid experience, Dr. Kimm says. Not like a dream.
He wondered about the fact that he saw his dog standing with his mother at the gates to heaven. Chloie is very much alive.
Then, after he finally made it home after months of recovery, Kimm talked to a friend in Iowa who is a dog breeder. It was from that person that Kimm had received Chloie.
The dog breeder asked him if he had seen on the news that a yellow lab police dog had been killed in the line of duty earlier in the year.
Kimm said yes, he had seen something about it.
That was Chloie's brother, the breeder said.
Now Kimm wonders if that was the dog he saw in his near death experience.
A story on page two of this week's Register relates how Cara Thompson-Weir was able to get Merrill Osmond to come to Blue Earth for a benefit concert in memory of her mother who died from schleroderma.
Thompson-Weir had returned to live in the Winnebago area for several years to tend to her mother while she faced death from her illness. But, she had to return to her home in Idaho for business reasons right when her mother was about to end her life's journey.
Booking a flight home, Thompson-Weir faced one plane delay after another in her quest to get home before her mother died.
But, on the last leg of the flight, she closed her eyes and saw a vision of her mother talking to her, dying and going up the tunnel to the light of heaven and telling her daughter good-bye.
Thompson-Weir checked her watch. It was 2:13 p.m.
When her plane landed, her sister called her to tell her their mother had died that afternoon.
At 2:13 p.m.
You can call them returning memories, dreams or strange coincidences, but to the people that it happens to, it is a very real experience.
Hearing both Dr. Kimm and Cara Thompson-Weir relate their stories is a powerful experience in itself.
As for me, I believe it is one of the many mysteries we won't truly know the answer to until that time each of us experiences death for ourselves.