Death Taught Me to Let Life Love In

After thirty days in the hospital and four months without a bite of solid food, my body was shutting down. Crohn’s disease had won the fight. I knew it was my last day of life.

My estranged family: mom, dad and two sisters gathered after not communicating for a very long time. The family had come together to save me. Funny thing is, I longed to comfort them and have them see what mattered most about life was that we were finally together, helping each other. I could feel the love we all had for each other; it was there underneath the pain and non-forgiveness we’d all lugged around from the past. I wanted to touch their faces and feel their beautiful presence with my hands. It was the most real I had ever known any of us to be.

I longed to be held…and hold all of them. I was finally willing to let love in.

The doctors had done all they could, outside of removing my colon, which I adamantly refused. Being “Miss Natural, Health-Nut Nutrition Freak” I believed it was a fate worse than death. I’d lost over 40 pounds on my already thin frame and I justified not doing it because the doctor was doubtful that I was strong enough to survive the surgery. My immune system was non-existent.

It happened that night after everyone left. I was alone, utterly alone. The nurses (angels in my book) were understaffed and crazy busy with what seemed like a busload of new patients. I didn’t want to bother them. I’d fallen in love with all of them and I knew there wasn’t anything else they could do for me; they knew it, too. I quietly began experiencing my aloneness, not resisting it but allowing it to be there. I was experiencing my own presence, contemplating my whole life and holding myself dear. I actually had my hands around my body in a kind embrace. It was a first…loving myself like I would a dear friend.

I was out of fight, surrendered to the myriad of feelings in my heart. I never knew such vulnerability existed. I was wide open and couldn’t hide any longer. I decided I wanted to be present for death.

I denied painkillers. The huge dose of Prednisone they had me on was all I could handle. It is a sense-magnifying drug and my sensitivity was off the charts. Then it started – the worst physical pain I’d ever known began moving through my body. I kept breathing myself into presence the best I could and praying for it all to be over. I was okay with dying; at least that was what I kept telling myself.

I calmed myself by repeating: “Stay calm Holly, breathe, allow, breathe, allow, don’t fight it, surrender, stay present, let go, let go, let go.” I wasn’t sure who or what God was or even if there was such a thing but I asked with all my heart: “If someone is out there and can help me be free of this horror, please take me, please help me. I can’t do this anymore. I am ready, I’m done here. I’ll do better next time; please get me out a here.”

I had been in and out of the hospital so many times over the previous years I’d lost count. Life was not worth living anymore. I felt I was hurting my husband and my children more by being alive than I would if I died. I had come to terms that they would all recover and my beautiful husband would find a wonderful woman.

Then a pain beyond human consumed me. My entire body was contracting, shutting down and screaming inside. I closed my eyes and cried. Then something weird happened. I became very still. It all became surreal. I watched it happening and allowed the pain to exist. I became so present it was like some part of me wanted it and invited it. I was breathing fast and deep and watching with all the awareness I could muster.

Then it was like time stopped. I couldn’t do anything but let everything be exactly as it was. The sound changed; I became aware of a humming sound. The energy inside and outside of me seemed to completely change. I was totally watching now instead of being involved. Then, with so much love for my life, my children, my family and my dear body, I exhaled. Or, I could say my body exhaled and I witnessed this with the deepest compassion I’d ever experienced.

The next thing I knew I was out of my body, moving away from it, floating upward and outward and then upward some more. Suddenly I realized I was free of all pain. It was sweet, soothing and beautiful to just be…nothing. I wondered who or what I was. There was an amazing sense of wholeness in me and around me. I’d become empty space. I was pure presence, part of everything, not separate like I was as Holly. I felt incredibly vast, whole and complete. Done. This was all happening without words. There was so much love. I was filled with clarity; I knew this was my true self. It was familiar. Part of me knew I had been this presence all along…and that I had just forgotten. I was so happy and complete. I kept feeling like one big huge smile as this awareness filled me: “OH MY GOD!!! Everything is perfect and it always has been.”

Joy was holding me; love WAS me. I smiled without a body to smile with.

Right then an energy, like a wave of knowing, nudged me to turn and look back at my body. My awareness followed the nudge without any thinking or questioning. I had a sense that I was about to be given important information. Then I saw it, my body all crumpled up below in the hospital bed. It was filled with old beliefs and conclusions. I could see them. They were not me but they were in me. They were something I had put there or held onto. They looked like dark clusters of trapped goop, dense and stuck…and there were lots of them.

In that moment I knew how I got sick. I’d held onto so much non-forgiveness, resentment and pain that it poisoned me from the inside.

I felt so much care for my poor body below and seemed to move toward it in a wave of apology. I was so sorry for holding onto all those mean beliefs. Ideas like: “I’m not okay.” “I’m not loved.” “I’m not enough.” “I need to be punished.” “I’m a bad person.” “I’m stupid.” “Nobody cares about me.” There were so many I couldn’t name them all. I saw how they were all held in a bunch of anger and non-forgiveness from my childhood.

I was stunned. I realized, I’m the one…I did it! Me! I held on to hurt and tucked it way down inside hoping to never have to feel it or deal with it. My own resentment and blame had sabotaged my health. It wasn’t my father’s fault or the world’s fault, or some punishing God’s fault as I had always believed. I put all that energy inside of me and held onto it.

As I looked at this from above, I realized I could have let it all go. I could have been kinder to myself. I could have owned this resentment and pain as mine and released it. Instead, I spent my energy blaming it on others and expecting them to step up and fix it. It was like a movie showing me how I had hurt myself and blamed it on others. The clip only lasted a second but offered a lifetime of learning. I’d been trying to get revenge by hurting myself and hoping my pain would cause harm to those who had hurt me. Like my suffering would prove my dad was bad and wrong and that I was good.

This movie also showed me that feelings are made of energy. They have a quality and vibration. What I felt and carried with me was such a low dense energy that it clogged up the flow of life called ‘me.’ It was a lesson for me. Feelings are alive and can affect whatever is near. I then realized this must also be true of good feelings. In that moment I felt the energy changing all around me.

I was given a profound awareness…that how I felt moved out from me like ripples in a pond when a stone is tossed in and actually touched all near. I realized I had not shared much genuine kindness in my life.

Once I understood this, my awareness started moving. It was like I was being directed, by what I don’t know. But I knew it was time to move on. I gently began flowing into what I will call an incredible peace. It was filled with understanding, compassion and knowing. I was in it, it was in me; and it was an indescribable vibration of gentleness. There was light up ahead, like a collection of suns bright, happy and dancing in some kind of brilliant harmony. Everything was amazingly alive. The sensations went all through me, everywhere around me and existed as far as my attention could go. I tried to find the edge of it and there was no end. There was a hum of sounds, a marriage of different tones, changing and harmonizing. I don’t have words for it; we don’t have words for this sound on this planet. The best I can do is say I was floating in alive love, love that was touching me, filling me and smiling into me. I so want to share it with everyone but I can’t find words that work. The sensation was whole, not a single thing out of place, perfection, nothing undone.

I floated in it. I knew it was the truth. I was home. I explored and felt everything. It was completion in every sense of my existence.

My life as a body was gone and my being was fading into a sea of energy.

The next thing I knew everything stopped…stillness in a quiet and perfect forever. I was being held. I felt the comfort of a touch all around me. I’m not sure how but I reached out with what seemed like a hand and touched the softness I was lying in. I ran my awareness all along the edge and it felt like a thumb, and I went to the knuckle and felt little hairs on the finger. I remember this so vividly. I gently let the hair flow through my fingers. I took my other hand and felt the other side and I became aware there was another hand there holding me. I was in some kind of etheric body and it seemed to become more solid as I went to use it. I very slowly bent my head and my awareness backward to look up to see what was holding me. I saw the face of Jesus but more than that, I felt the love. Profound love was moving from pools of blue into me and through me. I was completely loved and anything other than love disappeared. I have to tell you, I had no relationship with Jesus, not in anyway, except for the picture on my grandmother’s wall. I remember being a little girl standing in her hallway looking up at that eight by ten photo, feeling the love in his eyes then and wishing I could have some.

I got to feel that love. I will never be able to entirely share what happened in my heart in that moment. It merged into me without words. I became clear about who I was and who we all were. I stayed there in that vibration for what seemed a very long time and then I heard these words. Not in my ears, but in my being: “Do you want to stay or do you want to go?” It’s as though we had a long conversation but no words were exchanged. I felt so much space to be anything, do anything and experience any desire. All possible choices were completely perfect, with only one requirement…that I choose.

I could go back to being Holly if I chose that or I could stay where I was and begin from there. Honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted. I will never forget that space, the quiet expanse. There was not one drop of influence, not a single nudge in any direction. Pure open allowing for whatever I desired. I sat in this for what seemed like another eternity. I drank it in and realized how beautiful this feeling was. Another sensation I had never known, not like this. “It’s all my choice.” sang through my being, my body and my awareness. I didn’t have to choose for the good of anybody else, or decide because one choice was right and another wrong. It was all about what my heart wanted to experience…period.

I opened even more, realizing I didn’t know. I wanted clarity to come from inside. I pondered: “Do I want to stay here or go back into my life?” Certainty didn’t come and it was fine. So, I stayed quiet in the not knowing. I just let ‘not knowing’ be there. It was open and calm; there was no hurry, so beautiful to allow. I loved where I was.

Suddenly both of my boys’ faces appeared in front of me. They were three and seven years old at the time. The second I saw them my vibration transformed into an even deeper love. It was the richest and most beautiful feeling of the journey. I saw them in front of me, but they were not children. They were pure souls, complete beings playing at life. I saw them, I mean really saw them for who they are. My heart was so full yet it filled even more. There was no them and me. It was more like an us. Instantly I knew I wanted to go back and be with them in life. Christ smiled…I didn’t see it, I felt it. He knew what I wanted the moment I knew. So sweetly, he blew his soft breath over my body, slowly from head to toe. It was like he was pouring his love into my being. When he was finished, we gently moved back through the layers toward my body in the hospital bed. He tenderly laid me upon the bed and I was back in my human body. I touched the softness of the sheets with my hands, smiling so deeply words cannot express the joy streaming through me. Tears were running down my face as gratitude overflowed and held me like a soft blanket. I had another chance!

I knew I could heal.

I caressed my body with pure love and apologized for all I had done to it. I promised it that things were going to be different.

And they were!

Holly Riley
Dynamic speaker and best-selling author Holly Riley has been a coach and facilitator of the Allowing materials for over a decade. Following a life-altering near-death experience, Holly began empowering people to let go of self-sabotage and fear, allowing them to become who they longed to be. Her simple, powerful Catch & Release process outlined in "The Allowing Handbook" is indispensable for anyone ready to be free of the past and heal. (Yes, parents, this includes children of all ages!) Visit Holly's website to get more information and to download a free chapter of Holly’s best seller: Allowing: A Portrait of Forgiving and Letting Life Love You.

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