Nadia McCaffrey is a perfect example of how an NDE can dramatically change a person’s life. After being bitten by a snake when she was a child, she had a very beautiful NDE. Having to return to life from her NDE was a tremendous disappointment to her. Her desire to once again be in the spirit world of love and peace caused her to attempt suicide on two occasions. These attempts only resulted in two more NDEs. Her final attempt and resulting NDE eventually led to a dramatically changed life. In fact, it resulted decades of service to the dying and promotion of near-death experiences.
Her NDEs are profiled in P.M.H. Atwater‘s excellent books entitled Children of the New Millennium (1999), The New Children and Near-Death Experiences (2003) and We Live Forever: The Real Truth About Death. Nadia is the president and founder of the Angelstaff volunteer and formerly headed the Bay Area Chapter of Compassion in Action, an organization that trains hospice volunteers. She is the facilitator for the San Francisco-Bay Chapter of IANDS and directs her own organization, Changing the Face of Death, a not for profit organization dedicated to public awareness, consciousness and service towards the dying.
My Near-Death Experiences by Nadia McCaffrey
It is July 7th, 1952 and I am seven years old. I am a lonely child with a lot of questions and an immense desire for learning. Every year I spend my vacation from the convent school with my mother’s parents at Le Prieure de Beauvezet, their estate in the Province d’Auvergne in France.
The main building of Le Prieure is at least four centuries old. It was first a chapel and later became a monastery with its surrounding cemetery. Some of the old walls are 1.5 meters thick. Over the centuries, the monastery became a large, elegant house encircled by an interesting park of lilacs, rare plants and trees.
The master house, now occupied by my grandparents, is located on the very top of a hill built by human labor. Here was once a “tour de guet” – a tower designed to provide a view of anyone or anything coming from far away. There is still an underground passage which was once a means of escape in case of an invasion.
At the foot of this steep hillside is a grove of wild cherry trees. Next to it is a dry stone retaining wall built with the stones once used for the watchtower. This is where I am standing, just at the edge of the wall. I have been playing in the meadow, picking flowers here and there. I simply love flowers, especially the wild sweet peas that are growing in colorful profusion among the tall golden stalks of wheat. I am looking out into the wheat field, seeing the bright spots of color – red coquelicot, blue bachelor’s buttons and the sweet peas which seem to beckon me into the field.
Feeling overwhelmed by the wheat, which seems to tower over my head, I am debating whether I can get to the flowers. Of course I can! I can’t resist. I run into the field, into the tall, thick grasses. Suddenly, I stop. I have disturbed a red aspic or asp viper – a deadly snake once used by Cleopatra to exit this dimension. It stays perfectly still for a long moment, then curls on its tail in a perfect circle. Its upper body stands straight up and its two piercing eyes stare deep into my soul. I am petrified! I want to scream but I can’t move. A horrible pain suddenly floods my senses and as the snake undulates away very fast, two tiny spots of blood appear on my left ankle. I start screaming long, piercing and extremely loud sounds of death.
Fear is not present but only the recognition of the fact that I know. I just know that death is near. I try walking up the steep hillside, but my steps became so difficult… and then impossible. I drop down upon the grass. At this moment, my grandmother comes running down the hill. Not wanting to frighten her, I say, “Un serpent m’a mordu.” (A snake bit me…) But she knew.
She sat next to me, took off her long black apron and with her two hands made long narrow rags. With one hand at each leg she began twisting them into tourniquets. She then circled my upper leg with the twisted cloth and made a knot. She then grabbed a stick lying nearby on the ground. She used the stick to twist the cloth tightly around my leg, slowing the flow of blood to the heart. After making the tourniquet, she removed my sandal, raised my left ankle to her mouth and began sucking out the venom. By this time I was drifting in and out of consciousness.
Having done what she could, my grandmother picked me up, carried me to the house and gently laid me on a chaise lounge after which I began vomiting without stop.
In 1952 my grandparents did not have a telephone or a car so at the sound of my horrible screams, my grandfather Leon had left the house on his bike. He rode like the wind to a public telephone at the other end of the village, more than two kilometers from the house.
Overcome by the poison, I slipped into an unconsciousness state. When I regained consciousness for a short time, I found myself in my grandfather’s bed and the bedroom was dark.
I could see the two doctors attending me who had come as a result of grandfather’s urgent pleas. On doctor, Dr. Nenon, insisted on giving me an injection of vaccine Pasteur, while the second and older doctor (Dr. Fayolle) felt that it wouldn’t do any good.
After a long argument, the younger doctor prevailed and they gave me the injection. As one held me down, I felt the sting of the needle in the lower right side of my abdomen just below my belly button after which I slipped into a coma that lasted for 10 days.
While in the coma, I was oblivious to the real around me, but I was oddly award that I had left this dimension. It was then that I saw a beautiful being of light: the Lady of Light, hovering above in the room, who introduced herself to me as:
“Je suis ta petite Maman du ciel.”
“I am your little mother of the sky.”
She was so beautiful. I still see her so clearly, as though she was standing in mid air, glowing with an extremely bright and powerful light. A wondrous light that filled me with loving and warm sense of serenity. Mere words fail me when I try to describe the feeling of well being and love I felt in the presence of her light. Somehow “I Knew it all,” the universal mind of creation, the infinity of it all, I was part of it, I am part of it. The Love that the Lady of Light give me is so powerful and peaceful that it must be passed on to others. Some how I understand that this Love is what will save us, we must care for one-another and spread compassion in our world of sadness and destruction.
Leaving my body in my bed, I began floating in her direction. She then smiled very softly and opened her arms. She held up the palms of her hands helping me to understand that I should not come towards her. I could see that she wanted me to listen to what she had to say.
“Sois forte aimons nous les uns les autres. Cet amour que j’ai pour toi seme le a la ronde. Il y a beaucoup de facon d’aimer. N’ai jamais peur tu seras guidee. Je serai toujours avec toi. Tu ne peux rester pres de moi maintenant. Tu devras montrer le chemin. Tu vas etre l’espoir. Au milieu d’un jardin tu verras une rose plus rouge et plus belle que toutes les autres. Lorsque le temps sera venu tu feras connaitre mon message. Me parler est prier. Prier est aimer.”
“Be strong and let’s all love one another. Please share this love I have for you with others. There are many ways to love. Do not fear, as you will be guided. I will be with you always. You cannot stay with me now. You will show the way. You will be hope. In the middle of a garden you will see a rose, more colorful and beautiful than all the others. When the time will come, you will open yourself to others and share this message of love. To speak to me is prayer and to pray is to love.”
Before returning to my body, I remember looking upon gray, sickly state and feeling no pain or discomfort.
Later, while still in the coma she again visited me and just as before I left my body to join and she held out her hand and again repeated the same exact message as before but with one additional thought:
“Il faut maintenant nous separer et toi revenir a la vie. Tu as beaucoup a apprendre et beaucoup a accomplir. Mon amour sera toujours avec toi, n’oublie jamais.”
“And you will now return to life. You have a lot to learn, and a lot to accomplish. My love will always be with you. Never forget.”
Looking back one last time, I saw a long white gown with a cord knotted around her waist. Her head and shoulders were draped in blue material. There was a live green snake at her feet and a tear shaped drop of blood on her right foot. Both her arms were extended toward me with her palms up and her head was slightly bowed to the side. Slowly both her arms came to rest on her chest crossing each other.
I wanted so very much to curl up in her arms, to remain with her rather than returning to my body, but I had no choice! My body claimed me and was immediately overwhelmed by pain and sadness.
I was unable to completely understand what had happened to me and had to stay in bed for several weeks. My leg had swollen to three times its normal size, which frightened me because it was the same mottled color as the snake that had bit me. Consequently, I refused to talk with anyone. I hated being back in this dimension and I was filled with resentment and longing to slip out of my painful and disfigured body.
Later that year, after my recovery, I learned that an adult will survive only twenty minutes after being bitten by the asp and that I had stayed over two hours without the serum.
My grandmother was a healer and applied several natural remedies and herbs on my leg, which helped. After the swelling went down and I could finally stand up again, and it was a great victory. People said it was a miracle that I had survived.
I finally learned how to walk with a cane, but my body took months to recover. However, my spirit did not heal as quickly.
Once I had fully recovered, the Institute Pasteur of Paris sent a crew of herpetologists to investigate the incident. Asps were known to be in the south of France, but not in the center where I had been bitten. I asked if I could accompany them and watched as they captured some of the snakes.
They used a forked stick with a wire noose, which they slipped over the head of the snake and pulled tight to prevent its escape. Holding the asp tightly behind its head with two fingers, the men forced open its jaw and the two deadly hooks let forth a stream of creamy venom into a glass container.
Over thirty snakes were captured, put into bags and taken to a laboratory for further study. One huge serpent was found a few steps away from the house in an ancient rosebush. He was the last one captured and brought the total to thirty-one snakes.
After some time passed I started asking Therese for some explanation about the beautiful Lady of Light. I desperately needed some information about my experience.
She seemed startled by my account, and was filled with fear and horror by what I had told her. She cautioned me, “people would not understand. They would put you away forever if you tell anyone about this.” From that day on, she thought that I was possessed and never let me forget it until the day she died.
It is now 1960 and I am 15 years old. People think that I am beautiful and bright, but what they do not know is that I do not want to be alive.
Although I was very popular, I pushed people away from me and felt that my experience made me different and isolated me from other people. I was not able to share the way I felt with anyone and ended up hurting people as I rejected their offers of friendship.
After seeing the Lady of Light, being back was anything but easy. I was all right at first, thinking that she would be back. I wanted desperately to return to the light, to her and to her total love.
In a tree in the park there was a hollow spot where a limb had been removed and into it I placed a statue of the Virgin of Lourdes. It comforted me to visit her there where I could recall her memory and express my love by bringing her flowers. On the wall in my grandmother’s bedroom was another picture of Mary that reminded me of her and I talked to it, keeping hope alive, wishing that she would speak to me or show me a sign.
My teenage years were neither happy nor good. I was a rebel fighting everything and everyone. The sisters at the Catholic school I attended didn’t know what to do with me and my grandmother constantly fought. I was also very resentful of my own mother who I seldom saw, and was determined not to accept any comfort or support from her.
In 1960, after this years of unhappy anger and resentment that I could never share my experience with an empathetic soul, my desire to return to the light became so powerful that I attempted suicide. My suicide attempt was with pharmaceutical drugs. I had found bottles of pills and syrups marked with red skeleton warnings on the labels. They were hidden in my great grandmother’s house. These drugs had belonged to my great-grandmother, Marie Vauru, who had long since passed away. Her medicine had been forgotten on the dark top shelf of the pantry.
I swallowed the entire contents of approximately 15 bottles and became violently ill. I vomited and lost consciousness. One of my family members found me and took me to a local hospital where the doctors pumped my stomach. After recovering from the physical effects, I was returned under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
A few months later, I discovered that several bottles of my great grandmother’s pills still remained. Apparently, no one in my family had thought to remove them.
As the saying goes, “if at first you do not succeed, try again” and that is exactly what I did. However, I took a more sophisticated approach and methodically calculated the dosage necessary to end my life.
Oddly enough, a girlfriend, Antoinette, from the village came to visit, hoping to borrow a schoolbook. Her boyfriend Daniel drove her to my house and waited for her outside while she ran up to my room. When she opened the door, she found me on top of my bed and dressed in the most beautiful ball gown. I showed no signs of life, but I did have a feeble pulse. Antoinette and Daniel quickly bundled me into the car and to the Clinic Jeanne D’Arc, a small local hospital in Vichy.
From the moment I had taken the poison until the moment I arrived at the hospital was approximately two hours.
Orderlies had just wheeled me into the emergency room when once more; I was out of my body. I floated there for awhile, and looked down at lifeless body on the gurney. However, the real me had become a comfortable glowing shape.
For a while, I watched on as the nurses and doctors worked quickly to revive me. Then, I lost interest and my attention turned towards a long dark tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a very bright light and I floated to the opening. Once inside, I moved with what seemed to be an extraordinary and effortless speed, and finally reached the light.
My thoughts were dominated by one clear thought: “Oh, the light, the peace, the extraordinary feeling of love. Once more I am in it.” Then an extremely powerful and loud man’s voice told me to go back because I had work to do. Then, I began going back and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
My next moment as a conscious realization of terrible pain and sadness as I lay upon the gurney. One of the nurses, an older kindly woman, was crying because she thought that I had died (without coming back).
I later learned that the doctors could not detect a pulse for approximately ten minutes and that they had given up on me. They were actually removing the tubes and needles from my body when my vital signs returned. Surprised, they quickly resumed their efforts and worked feverishly to stabilize my condition.
In the hours that followed, the fog of pain that dominated every breath could not prevent my sadness. Not sadness for what I had done, but for what I had failed to achieve. From the outside in, I was young beautiful intelligent woman with all the promise of springtime. However, from the inside out, I was a prisoner in a gilded cage made of flesh and bones.
The sense of isolation we feel as humans is a lonely experience. Our serenity comes to us in small pieces. Like hungry animals we must savor each morsel with gratitude, knowing that beyond this life we will find limitless serenity and love. As much as I wanted that, I was forced to realize that I had been tasked and that I would not be allowed to shirk from my responsibility. My choice was simple. I could live a twisted life full of bitterness, or I could accept my responsibility with an open heart.
One might think that such a decision would take many years of agonizing, yet it was as though I simply thrown a switch and turned on a new light — the light of my own responsibility. Since that day, I’ve not once contemplated suicide again.
This experience changed my life completely. Once I understood that I couldn’t go back, I stopped fighting with the world and began trying to pass on the love that I received to those around me.
In my work with the terminally ill, I draw upon my own experiences for the benefit of those who are making their transition to another dimension. Having lost my own fear of death long ago, I know with every fiber of my being that love can never fail us. It is this certainty that I can pass along to people who are dying and to those that are troubled and in turmoil.