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RaNelle Wallace’s Near-Death Experience

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On October 9, 1985, RaNelle Wallace and her husband tried to fly their single-engine airplane through a snowstorm in central Utah. They became disoriented and crashed against the side of a mountain, turning their small craft into a raging inferno. Burnt over 75% of her body, charred and in severe pain she struggled for her life as she climbed down the jagged and treacherous mountainside to seek for help. After giving all that was in her to give, she finally let go of her life when the paramedic said, “Stop fighting, well do all the work for you!” RaNelle Wallace died at that time – six hours after the plane crashed. What happened to her then has captured the hearts of thousands who have heard of her incredible journey beyond this life.

One aspect of her near-death experience is very unusual and quite amazing. While in heaven, she sees her son who was not yet born into the world. It is this aspect of her experience that makes her near-death experience very unique. What follows are excerpts from her book, The Burning Within in which she describes her amazing near-death experience. More information can be found at RaNelle’s Facebook Page.

1. RaNelle Experiences the Tunnel and Life Review

RaNelle Wallace

At that moment I was sucked into a narrow tube, and I began flying through it feet first. The tube was extremely tight, and I became more frightened because it almost felt like my body was being sucked inside out. My speed was tremendous – indescribable. Nothing on Earth has ever gone that fast, nothing could. It felt as if I were whizzing past galaxies, but the colors and lights were right next to me, almost brushing against me, and my fears mounted.

Then I heard voices. It seemed people were traveling beside me somehow, although there was no room for them. I became aware of one person near me who was alone and not speaking. I couldn’t see anyone; I just knew the person was there.

The voices stopped and a brief scene flashed before me. A series of pictures, words, ideas, understanding. It was a scene from my life. It flashed before me with incredible rapidity, and I understood it completely and learned from it. Another scene came, and another, and another, and I was seeing my entire life, every second of it. And I didn’t just understand the events; I relived them. I was that person again, doing those things to my mother, or saying those words to my father or brothers or sisters, and I knew why, for the first time, I had done them or said them. Entirety does not describe the fullness of this review. It included knowledge about myself, that all the books in the world couldn’t contain. I understood every reason for everything I did in my life. And I also understood the impact I had on others.

A part of me began to anticipate certain events, things in my life I would dread seeing again. But most of them didn’t show up, and I understood that I had taken responsibility for these actions and had repented of them. I saw myself repenting of them, sincerely wanting God to remove the weight and guilt of those terrible actions. And He had. I marveled at His sublime love and that my misdeeds could be forgiven and removed so easily. But then I saw other scenes that I hadn’t anticipated, things that were just as awful. I saw them in horrible detail and watched the impact they had on others. I saw that I had let many people down in my life. I had made commitments to friends and family that I had just let ride until they were irreversibly unfulfilled. People had depended on me, and I had said, I’m too busy or it’s not my problem, and just let it go. My cavalier attitude had caused real pain and heartache in others, pain I had never known about.

I was shown a friend who I knew had suffered terribly in her life. She lived in a beautiful, spiritual world before she came to this life, and she had been confused and hesitant about coming here at all. But she was given the promise of good parents, family members, and friends, and she agreed to come for the experience and growth this life would afford her. I was shown that I was one of the key friends who had been given to her as a guide and help. Then I saw my own personal follies and uncaring attitudes. I saw how these had combined to mislead my friend and propel her into new mistakes and grief.

I had messed up my own life, not really caring about the consequences, and in so doing had hurt her as well. If I had followed through on my obligations to myself and others, she would have lived an easier and more productive life. Until that moment I had never realized that ignoring responsibilities was a sin.

What was happening? Why was I seeing all this? My mind spun with questions.

Next, I saw a woman whom I had been asked by our local church leader to visit periodically. I was just to check up on her and see if she needed any help. I knew the woman quite well but was afraid of her constant pessimism and negativity. She was locally renowned for her bitterness. I didn’t think I could handle the depressing influence she would have on me, so I never went to see her. Not once. I saw now that the opportunity to visit her had been orchestrated by Higher Powers, that I had been just the person she needed at that time. She didn’t know it, and I didn’t know it, but I had let her down. Now I lived her sadness and felt her disappointment and knew I was a cause of it. I had fallen through on a special mission to her, a responsibility that would have strengthened me over time. I had retreated from an opportunity for growth, both for me and for her, because I was not caring enough to fight through my petty fears and laziness. But the reasons didn’t matter; I could see that, even now, she was living in sadness and bitterness, living through it just as I now experienced it, and there was nothing I could do to go back and help.

I re-experienced myself doing good things, but they were fewer and less significant than I had thought. Most of the great things I thought I had done were almost irrelevant. I had done them for myself. I had served people when it served me to do so. I had founded my charity on conditions of repayment, even if the repayment was merely a stroke to my ego. Some people had been helped, however, by my small acts of kindness, a smile, a kind word, little things I had long since forgotten. I saw that people were happier because of my actions and in turn were kinder to others. I saw that I had sent out waves of goodness and hope and love when I had only meant to smile or to help in a small way. But I was disappointed at how few of these incidents there were. I had not helped as many people as I thought.

As the review of my life came to an end I was in agony. I saw everything I had ever done in vivid, immediate detail – the bad things, haunting and terrifying in their finality, and the good things, ringing with greater reward and happiness than I had ever imagined. But in the end I was found wanting. I found myself wanting. Nobody was there to judge me. Nobody had to be. I wanted to melt in the agony of self-indictment. The fires of remorse began to consume me, but there was nothing I could do.

2. RaNelle Enters the Light and Meets Her Grandmother

A dot of light appeared far off in front of me. It was just a pinpoint, a tiny speck in the distance, but its brilliance distinguished it from all other lights around me and I instinctively pressed towards it. Emanating from it was a love and hope and peace that my soul hungered for. I wanted, I needed this brilliant, radiant light. The black tube took the shape of a tunnel now, opening up as I neared its end. The light burst forth before me, filling everything with brightness, and I was coming upon it impossibly fast. Oh, my gosh, I thought, it’s brighter than the sun. It’ll blind me! It’ll kill me!

I remembered my burns from the plane crash and was afraid they would ignite again in this radiance. But I couldn’t stop myself. I was drawn to the light by forces I could not control, so I shut my eyes against my impending destruction. But my eyes wouldn’t shut. They felt shut – but somehow I could still see. And then I was in the light.

Like a nuclear explosion, the light pierced me. Every particle of me was shot through with blinding, brilliant light, and I had a feeling of transparency. My skin didn’t burn. My eyes still saw. I floated in this light, bathed in it, and the love that surrounded me and filled me was sweeter and finer than anything I had ever felt. I was changed by it, refined, rarified, made pure. I basked in its sweetness, and the traumas of the past were far behind me, forgotten and transformed by peace. Then an image appeared in the distance.

A woman walked toward me dressed in white. Her hair was white, and her face shone with light. I had no fear of her; the love I felt allowed no fear. She came forward and stood immediately before me. Then she smiled, and I loved her smile. It filled me with even greater love, and I wanted to know her. She spoke my name. “RaNelle.”

But her lips didn’t move. Her smile never changed and my first thought was, “Wow, what a trick! Her lips didn’t move.”

“RaNelle,” she said again, and I realized her voice sounded in my mind and not in my ears. How could this be?

“RaNelle,” she was more insistent. “It’s Grandma.”

And the moment she said this, I recognized her. She was my mother’s mother. But she looked different than I had remembered. She was full and rounded and vibrant. She appeared to be about twenty-five years old, but her hair was glorious white, and everything about her was radiantly beautiful. Her body was glorious, and I began to understand why I hadn’t recognized her. She had been frail and sick all the years I had known her. Then the realization hit me.

Grandma was dead; she had died a couple of years before. And I thought, if she’s dead, then what am I doing here?

“Oh, I’m dead.” The thought came out of me like spoken words, though I hadn’t moved my mouth.

Now everything fit. The colorful lights, the life review, and now this light of glorious love, all of it naturally occurred as my life continued in this next world. This definitely wasn’t some dream or some drug-induced vision. I was more keenly aware and alive now than I had ever been in my body. I immediately accepted this, and wanted to know where everybody was.

Grandma giggled. Her lips didn’t move, but her spirit giggled.

“Aren’t people supposed to meet me when I die?” I asked. “Aren’t there supposed to be people singing hallelujah and coming up to hug me and saying, ‘Welcome’?”

She giggled again, and I thought it was the most delightful giggle I had ever heard.

“Well,” she said, “everybody is quite busy. Come on. You have a lot to see,” and she reached out for my hand.

3. RaNelle Meets a Friend from a Lower Afterlife Realm

But I thought, “Wait, what about Jim?”

Jim was a friend who had been killed in an automobile accident several months earlier. If Grandma was here, maybe she could tell me what happened to him.

“What about Jim?” I said again, and then I saw him in the distance, walking toward us.

Instantly I wanted to run and embrace him, but my grandmother put out her arm and said, “No, you cannot.”

I was startled. There was a power in her words, and I knew I couldn’t oppose them. “Why not?” I asked.

“Because of the way he lived his life,” she said.

He had come closer now and had stopped ten or twelve feet away. He was dressed in jeans and a blue shirt that was unbuttoned to mid-chest. This was how he normally wore his shirts on Earth, but I thought, my goodness, that’s risqué. Do they let you dress like that in heaven? He smiled, and I could feel his happiness. Although he didn’t possess the same kind of light or power that my grandmother did, he seemed content. He gave me a message to give to his mother, asking that I tell her to stop grieving over his death, to let her know that he was happy and progressing.

He explained that he had made certain decisions in life that had hindered his growth on Earth. He had made the decisions knowing they were wrong, and now he was willing to accept their consequences. When he was thrown from the van that he and his wife and a friend had been in, his head had hit a rock, and he had been killed instantly. When he got to the other side, he was given a choice to stay in the spirit or return to Earth. He could see that his growth on Earth had come to a stop and that if he returned he might lose even that light which he had gained. So he chose to stay.

He asked me to explain this to his mother, and I said I would, not knowing how I would accomplish it since I had no thought of going back myself. Then he said that he had a lot of work waiting for him, and he turned and left. I could tell that he was very busy, very engaged in matters that were vital to him, that would help him, though I didn’t know what they were. I looked at my grandmother and asked why she had prevented me from embracing him. She explained that this was a part his of “damnation”.

4. RaNelle Learns Heavenly Insights at the Speed of Light

“The powers we are given,” she explained, “are self-given. We grow by the force of our desires to learn, to love, to accept things by faith that we cannot prove. Our ability to accept truth, to live by it, governs our progress in the spirit, and it determines the degree of light we possess. Nobody forces light and truth upon us, and nobody takes it away unless we let them. We are self-governed and self-judged. We have total agency. Jim decided to limit his growth on Earth by rejecting things he knew were true. He hurt himself and others by using and selling drugs. Some of the people were hurt severely. He had various reasons for turning to drugs but the fact remains that he knew these things were wrong. He chose darkness over light often enough that he would not choose light again. And, now, to the degree that he became spiritually dark, he is consigned to a similar degree of darkness – or lack of light – here in the spirit. Yet he still has agency. He can grow. He can still find all the joy he is willing to accept, all that he is capable of receiving. But he knows that he does not have the same powers to progress and achieve joy that others with more light have. This is a part of damnation, because his progress is limited. But he is choosing to grow. And he is happy.

“The Lord never gives more challenges in life than can be handled,” she continued, “Rather than jeopardize someone’s spiritual progression or cause more suffering than can be endured, he will bring that spirit home, where he or she can continue progressing.”

All of this rang utterly true to me. She had communicated it with lightning speed, faster than computers can talk. It was instant and total knowing. I found that Grandmother and I could think on several levels at once and communicate them all simultaneously. You can’t know something without knowing everything around it, what causes it, what sustains it. Knowledge dovetails in the spirit world, each piece fitting with other pieces. Every fact connected to it is seen instantly, in totality. We have nothing like it on Earth. We can’t even approach it. Our knowledge and ability to communicate is like a child’s who hasn’t yet learned a language. We struggle to communicate, but we don’t possess the tools. We’re like little children.

My grandmother held out her hand and said, “Come quickly.”

I reached out to take it and stopped. “Wow,” I said. “Look at my hand.”

My hand was clear, like transparent gel, but there was light coursing through it like clear blood. But, the light didn’t run in irregular patterns as it would in veins; rather, the light shot through my hands like rays or beams. My whole hand sparkled with light. I looked down and saw that my feet also sparkled with light. And I noticed again that they weren’t burned. My feet and hands were perfect and whole. They radiated this glistening, beaming light, and I looked at my grandmother and saw that her light was brighter than mine. Every part of her was more brilliant. Even her dress was glowing white. And I recognized the dress. It was the dress that she had been buried in. My mother had bought it for her funeral. I thought about what Jim had been wearing, and I understood that people there wear what they want to wear. They wear what they’re comfortable in, and I knew that my grandmother must have loved this dress my mother bought for her. Although she had never worn it in life, Grandma was wearing it now, and she was radiant.

Moments later we were walking, holding hands, and the most beautiful panorama I had ever beheld opened before us.

5. The Heavenly Garden and Its Sustaining Love

A garden cannot exist on Earth like the one I saw. I had been in gardens in California that had taken my breath away, but they were stuck into insignificance by the scene before me now. Here was an endless vista of grass rolling away into shining, radiant hills. We have never seen green in our world like the deep, shimmering green of the grass that grew there. Every blade was crisp, strong, and charged with light. Every blade was unique and perfect and seemed to welcome me into this miraculous place.

And the whole garden was singing. The flowers, grass, trees, and other plants filled this place with glorious tones and rhythms and melodies; yet I didn’t hear the music itself. I could feel it somehow on a level beyond my hearing. As my grandmother and I stopped a moment to marvel at the magnificent scene, I said to myself, “Everything here seems to be singing,” which was woefully inadequate to describe what I felt. We simply don’t have language that adequately communicates the beauty of that world.

I noticed something unusual about the flowers near us. My grandmother waved her arm and, without speaking, commanded them to come to her. Although it was a command, the flowers took joy in obeying her. They floated through the air and came to a stop, suspended within the circle of her arms. The bouquet was alive. Each blossom was able to communicate, react, and actually enlighten others near it. “Grandma,” I said, “they have no stems.”

“Why should they have stems?” she said. “Flowers on Earth need stems to receive nourishment, to grow to their fullest potential. Everything God has made is spiritual and is designed to grow towards it own spiritual potential. A flower reaches its fullness in the blossom. Here everything exists in its fullest form. These flowers have no need of stems.”

“But they just float.”

“Should they fall? Everything here is perfect.”

She took one of the flowers and handed it to me. “Isn’t that beautiful?” she said.

The whole blossom was filled with various shades of light, and its beauty was incredible. Then the flower became part of me. Its soul merged with mine. It experienced everything I was doing, or had done before. It was acutely aware of me, and at the same time it changed me with its delicate spirit, with its own existence and life. It affected my feelings, my thoughts, my identity. It was me. I was it. The joy that came from this union was more pervasive and delicious and fulfilling than any I had known until that moment, and I wanted to cry. The scriptures say that one day all things shall be as one. That statement has great power for me now. My grandmother commanded the flowers to return, and they floated gently back to their places just above the ground. The one in my hands also returned, but its essence remained with me.

“All this comes from God, and the power to sustain it comes from him. It is the power of his love. Just as the plant life on Earth needs soil, water, and light for nourishment, spiritual life needs love. All creation springs from God’s love, and everything he creates has the capacity to love in turn. Light, truth, and life are all created in love and are sustained by love. God gives it love. We give it love. You give it love. And thus creation grows. And, RaNelle,” she said, “I love you!”

As she said the words, I felt her love charge into my being, filling me with incredible warmth and joy. This was life. This was true existence. There had been nothing like it on Earth. I felt the plants loving me, the sky, the fragrances, everything. And as I received my grandmother’s words and this love, I knew that now I would be responsible to increase and heighten all love around me, whatever my circumstances. She was teaching me love, its definition, its extent and power, not just so I could take pleasure in receiving it, but so I could express it to others. I was being filled with love in order to become a source of love.

My grandmother took my hand, and as we walked through the garden she explained some of the basic purposes of our life on Earth, the need to live the golden rule, the need to help others, the necessity of a savior, the need to read scriptures and have faith, and I said, “Grandma, I already know this; I learned it all in Sunday school. Why are you teaching it to me again.”

She spoke simply, “It is within the simple principles of the gospel that the mysteries of heaven are found.”

What was she saying? I couldn’t see any mysteries in her words. I felt her immense love, but I could see no purpose in teaching me principles that had come clear to me years before. Yet she continued, reiterating the importance of basic goodness, religion, the power of repentance, things anybody can learn in the Bible. I listened, my frustration growing as we walked up the side of a hill. We came to the top, and I said, “Grandma, I know all that. I really do. Teach me more.”

“You’re not ready.”

“Yes, I am, Grandma. I’m ready for much more.”

“No, you don’t believe the basics yet. You lack faith.”

“What is it I don’t believe? How do I lack faith?”

Oh, but she knew me. She knew me better than I could have imagined. As we stood on the bluff overlooking a small valley, I saw a scene that changed me forever. The scene was sacred beyond words, beyond expression, and those who have witnessed it keep it hidden in their hearts. I saw that I had indeed lacked faith, that love isn’t simply a word or an emotion; love is a power that gives action to all around it. Love is the power of life. This was a turning point for me, something that allowed all of my understanding and love to magnify, but I can never share the details here except to say that I know that love between people here can be eternal. I felt Grandma beaming with happiness. I had passed a test. Grandma took my hand, and we traveled quickly over the landscape. I looked down at the ground flying under us. We streaked like a beam of light across this immense spiritual world then moved upward into space, traveling even faster.

6. The Floodgates of Knowledge Overwhelm RaNelle

Floodgates of knowledge opened, and truth poured into me without end or constraint. Its source was the light and truth all around me, and it was clarified, or explained at my level, by my grandmother. She gave me knowledge about God, life, the creation of the world, and even the reaches of eternity. The truths were comprehensive and complete and rushed upon me in such enormous volume that I thought my head would explode. It was coming too fast. I wanted to be able to absorb it, to remember it all, but it was too much.

“I can’t take this!” I said. “Stop!”

Instantly all communication ceased and we came to a standstill. My grandmother looked at me and I felt her surprise.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“I can’t handle all you’re giving me. How can I possibly retain it all?”

“RaNelle, don’t worry about it,” she said to me. “Let go of the fear. Don’t doubt yourself. You will recall things as you need them, and they will be brought to your memory by the Spirit. Have faith. Believe in the power of God.”

Then I understood what had become the greatest block to my growth in life: fear. It had plagued me all my years, had stopped my progress, cut short my attempts at working through problems. Fear had limited my enjoyment of life and it was blocking me now. When I feared, my powers of travel, understanding and progression became paralyzed.

“Don’t fear this,” I said to myself. “Let go.”

And we were traveling again, knowledge pouring into me faster than ever.

Scene after scene of living truth passed through me: history on Earth, history of our existence before Earth, principles, facts, things that I had had no conception of. I saw them. I experienced them, literally becoming part of each scene.

I saw that we all stood before our Father before coming to Earth, brothers and sisters in eternity. I experienced this anew, just as I had experienced it in my own pre-mortal life. I saw that we chose to come here, to face trials and to gain the experience of this Earth. I saw that we elected to follow a savior who would redeem us from the sins of our mortal lives and bring us back to our Father. I felt love and joy sweep over me again as we accepted Jesus Christ as savior. Then we raised our right arms, just as we might in a court of law, and we made a sacred covenant with God that we would do all in our power to accomplish our missions on Earth. And I felt the tremendous honor of making this covenant before our Heavenly Father. We vowed, in effect, to become partners with him in bringing about goodness on Earth. We promised to use our time and energies and talents to help bring about the savior’s full purposes, to help bring our brothers and sisters back to him and to our Father again. I saw that our God knew each of us individually. He knew our hearts, our souls, and he loved us unconditionally. It was as though he spent unmeasured time with each of us, counseling us, loving us. Time did not exist; each of us had always had a relationship with Him.

7. RaNelle Meets Her Eternal Heavenly Friends

I saw that the people standing beside me on that occasion were people who would play an integral part in my life on Earth. We were connected to each other in vital ways. If one of us were to fail in his or her mission, all of us would be hurt in some way. If one succeeded, we would all benefit. It was as if we were part of a puzzle with millions of pieces. It was put together perfectly, but if one piece were removed, we all would be lacking and would not be content until that piece was found and returned to its rightful place. We needed each other. We still do, and always will. I believe that it is impossible here to imagine the grief of a brother or sister who is lost from that grand family organization. Many other events of eternity passed through me. I seemed to bathe in them, to become them. They were infused into my soul. And I know that all this knowledge is with me yet, some of which I remember, such as making the covenant with our Father, and some of which I am waiting to remember.

I asked my grandmother if I could visit my friends, the ones I had cherished throughout eternity. She said some of them were still on Earth and that I would not be able to see them. I asked for the others, and instantly they came to me, beautiful people of light and love. I remembered them and their names. Some had already lived on Earth and died, and some had not yet been born. All the memories of my existence before Earth came back to me, but I was told that I would not retain them, that they were for this place only. I accepted that, and my friends came and embraced me, welcoming me back. My friends embraced me again and committed to stay with me. I felt their perfect love and knew they would never leave me. One female friend lingered and embraced me for a long time. She seemed bonded to me in a unique way, but I didn’t quite understand what it was.

“You know I’ve always been with you,” she said. “I’ve never left you. And I never will.”

She hung on every word I said, and I was moved as I recognized her passion to be with me, her absolute devotion and love.

“I’ll always be there,” she said again.

My grandmother took my hand, and we found ourselves in the garden again, traveling above another beautiful hillside. Everything was harmonious, perfect, like sweet music. She waved her arm, and we stopped above another high hill, and I saw millions of people before us.

“These are the spirits of those that have died,” she said. “They are waiting for the work to be done. They’re waiting for those on Earth to finish their part of the work.”

“Their part of the work?” I asked. “What work?”

She showed me that the people were organized into family units.

“You committed yourself to giving your time and talents on Earth to further the work of the Lord. You need these people, and they need you. We are all dependent upon one another.”

My life review had already pointed out how remiss I had been in serving others. Now I saw that there was much I could do, sharing, sacrificing, offering what I have. The spirits of those who have died are waiting for each of us to come closer to the truth, to become part of the complete puzzle again, to recognize the divinity of God and live in his light. Before moving on I saw that each person wore clothing from his or her own time period on Earth. As with my friend, Jim, they wore what they were comfortable in.

8. RaNelle Sees Her Burned Body and Told to Return

Grandma waved her arm and the ground opened before us. I looked and saw a person lying on a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and nurses. The person’s face was bandaged.

“You will never be the same, RaNelle,” Grandma said. “Your face will be altered and your body filled with pain. When you go back, you will have years of rehabilitation …”

“When I go back?” I looked at her. “You expect me to go back?”

Sudden understanding came, and I looked at the person on the bed. The arms were spread wide, and both arms and hands had been sliced in several places to allow the fluids to drain into plastic bags. “Is that me?” I was horrified.

“Yes, RaNelle, it is you. You will be badly scarred.”

I became frantic. “Grandma, I’m not going back.”

“Your children need you, RaNelle.”

“No, no they don’t. They’re better off with someone else. I can’t give them what they need.”

“It’s not just your children, RaNelle. You have things to do – things that aren’t finished yet.”

“No, I’m better off here. I don’t want to go through all that.” I pointed to my body. “I refuse. I want to stay here.”

I sensed my grandmother’s awareness that time was growing short. “You must go,” she said. “Your mission isn’t complete.”

9. RaNelle Meets Her Future Son Nathaniel

“No, I’m not returning to that body! I’m not going back.”

In response, my grandmother swept out her arm and commanded: “Look!”

A rift opened in the space before us, and I saw a young man walking toward us. At first he didn’t seem to understand why he was there. Then he saw me and looked stunned.

“Why are you here?” he said almost in disbelief.

As I remained silent, his disbelief changed to grief, and he began crying. I felt his grief, his sadness, and I too began crying. What’s the matter?” I asked. “Why are you crying?” I put my arms around him, trying to comfort him.

“Why are you here?” he repeated.

Then I understood that my refusal to go back to Earth was causing his sadness. I belonged on Earth for him, I understood, and I immediately felt guilt for my selfishness. His name was Nathaniel, and he hadn’t been born on Earth yet. He said that if I didn’t go back, his own mission would be hindered. Then he showed me his mission, and I saw that I was to open doors for him, to help him, to encourage him.

“I will complete as much of my mission as I can,” he said, “but I will never fulfill it without you. I need you.”

I thought my heart would break. I was a part of his puzzle, and I was hurting him and everyone he would help by refusing to go back to Earth. I felt a great love for this young man, and I wanted to help him in every way I could.

“Oh, Nathaniel,” I said, “I swear to you that I will help you. I will go back, and I promise that I will do everything I can to do my part. I will open those doors for you. I will protect and encourage you. I will give you everything I have. Nathaniel, you will complete your mission. I love you.”

His grief was replaced with gratitude. His face lit up, and I saw the great spirit he was. He was crying now with gratitude and joy. “Thank you,” he said. “Oh, I love you.”

My grandmother took my hand and drew me away. Nathaniel watched me leave, still smiling, and I distinctly heard him say, “I love you, Mom.” My spirit was thrilled, but I couldn’t respond to him, as things began happening very quickly.

“RaNelle,” Grandmother said, “there is one more thing I need to say to you. Tell everybody that the key is love.”

“The key is love,” she repeated. “The key is love,” she said a third time.

Then she let go of my hand, and the word love reverberated in my mind as I left her and fell into a deep blackness. I was crying as I left the world of light and glory and love. The last thing I saw was her outstretched hand.

[RaNelle’s near-death experience ends when she returns to her burned body in the hospital. About seven years after her NDE, she gave birth to a son whom she gave the name Nathaniel. She says she often sees the same facial expressions on him as the Nathaniel she met in heaven.]