Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Family Picnic - Renee's Near Death Experience

My Near Death Experience - Renee Zamora

My Family Picnic

Often in life we have memories that haunt us or comfort us, causing us to ponder who we are or why we are here on this earth.  I have had many such experiences, one of my first memories is when I was about six or seven years old.  I used to beg my mother to make little books for me.  She would fold a sheet of paper into fours and staple them together so I could "write my book".  Sometimes, she tired of me so I took the book-making upon myself, leaving me with staples in my fingers.  On one such occasion I had made my own book, it didn't look as good as Mom's but to me it was wonderful.  I couldn't write on paper all that my heart wanted to reveal, so I drew pictures and then read the stories over in my mind, causing me great comfort and joy.

On this morning, I sat on the swing Dad had just tied to the old lightening struck bee tree, overlooking the garden.  I slowly rocked in the swing, creating my story in my mind.  Dreaming someday I would make a real book with words in it so others could read it.  Quietly a girl came near me, her name was Stormy Thew.  Stormy never came to our house I don't really know why she was there that day.  She sat on the grass next to me and said:  "I hear you someday want to write a book."  I was shocked; I'd never told anyone this before.  Of course, now I suspect, my Mother must of guessed this.  Stormy told me she enjoyed writing and would like to write a book too.  I know Stormy could have written a book, she had a hard life, writing must of been a source of comfort for her.   Then all so quietly she left.  But as she had left I did not yet feel alone.  Someone was near me overlooking the garden.  I never experienced that feeling before in my life, I felt strange.  I left my peaceful swing and quickly fled into the house to be surrounded by my family.

Time has marched quickly on.  I married and moved to Massachusetts.  Soon two children, a boy, Philip and a girl, Marie, graced our home.  Hard times came financially for our family, so we decided to move.  My brother Randy lived in Provo, Utah. It seemed as good a place as any, so we decided to move there.

As we traveled to our new home we stopped first to see my parents in New York.  I had hoped to visit my brothers and sister there too.  I went to visit my Grandmother before I left.  I had my camera and asked her permission to take her picture with my children.  She was always too embarrassed of her crippled hands to let me do it before.  This time she agreed to the pictures.  I thanked her, and told her I would probably never see her again.  I couldn't see how I'd ever afford to come out to visit her again.  Inside my heart I knew she would die before I ever had that chance.  I kissed her cheek and told her I loved her and left.

I arrived in Utah in September of 1989.  I was expecting my third child.  On October 27th being sick with toxemia, I was induced, Garrett arrived three weeks early.  He was a beautiful healthy baby.  In December my parents called to say Grandma had passed away.  Even though I had expected it, I mourned.

Around 2 o'clock that next morning I went into the children's room to feed Garrett.  Philip and Marie were quietly sleeping nearby in their bunk beds.  As I rocked my baby, I felt Grandma come into the room.  I did not see her, yet I knew exactly were she stood.  My mind knew she was allowed to visit her posterity before her spirit left this earth.  She saw my sleeping children, and I showed her the baby she had never seen until this point.  Then I bore her my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I told her to listen when others came to tell her more.  I believe she felt pleased and satisfied. Then her spirit was gone.

The hard financial struggles were not to be over for my family.  As I saw the last of my savings depleted and my husband still unable to find any kind of employment, my soul seemed to bare no more.  Others told us we were lazy and counseled us to take any kind of job.  At the same time they wounded us with those words, because as of yet, no type of job was being offered.  I saw my husband, Bill, thrown rejections for even the least of jobs everyday.

The cruelest blow came when a man, we had trusted, lied to us and kept the security deposit money he had promised, and we desperately needed.  As I called my brother and told of my heartache all he said was "Well Renee, let me ask you?  What is Bill doing about a job?"  I felt so hurt and in my misery I sought to end my life.  I could not go on; life had no purpose, I felt only despair.

I lay on my bed in the deepest sorrow, surrounded by darkness and despair.  Suddenly I felt Grandma come to me.  I could feel of her love and concern for me.   Her love enveloped me and lifted my torn heart.  I felt her say:  "It's only money...It's only money....It's only money"  I knew she was right.  It was not yet my time to die, and not in that manner.  I felt my burden lightened and paused to lay all my trouble upon the Lord and right myself before God.

I pressed forward in my life.  I sought to do so many things.  I took joy in being busy.  I homeschooled my children, served as the district leader for homeschoolers.  I had a daycare in my home, sewed my clothes and sought a clean home like my sister-in-law Tami.  I was deeply involved in doing my genealogy.  I served two callings in the church.  Studied herbs and other various subjects, to gather a food supply, grow a garden, and learn to cook out of it and use it.  I do believe I attempted to do a bit of everything well.  I started to have one cold after another.  I felt it weak to rest, so I just stubbornly pressed on.

In early July of 1991, I came down with the flu, but this time I had a terrible headache with it.  I began to wake at night with night sweats, so bad I needed to change my clothes.  My headache was there for over a week.  Then I had a low grade fever.  We didn't yet have medical insurance, since the job my husband had didn't quite keep our heads above water, I just hoped my flu would go away.

By mid July, I wasn't any better.  I had had many blessings but as of yet none seemed to help.  On a Sunday morning my family went to church as I lay in bed to rest.  As I went to get out of bed, to get a book, I felt my life's energy go from me.  I was so weak that when my husband came home I needed his help to walk and my speech became slow and slurred.

I went to the doctor.  Because I didn't have insurance, and the doctor didn't know what was wrong with me, I was given an antibiotic and told to come back in a few days if it didn't seem to work.  I grew sicker, my body was covered in a rash and my fever went up.  Soon I was back to the doctor again.  They started to do blood work on me.  I tried as well as I could to tend my children as my husband went to work each day.

One morning I went to feed my children breakfast.  I decided to cook some eggs.  In the process of doing so I felt strange darkness start to close in on me, I was going to faint.  I felt my left side go numb and my right arm also.  I sent my children to get help from our neighbor; I feared I was having a stroke.  Soon they came back upset, not sure what to do.  They were too terrified to follow my directions.  I made it to the couch and had them bring me the phone.  I called a friend in my ward and asked her to send someone to help me.  Then I collapsed on the couch, the numbness left, but I was so very weak.

A lady from my church came to help and stayed until she had Garrett down for his nap.  Bill arrived and arranged to take me to the doctor.  My sister-in-law Tami watched my children for me.  The doctor looked at me, unable to hold my head up without great pain.  I held a cool cloth to my head, light hurt my eyes.  My fever was rising.  We had to make the decision fast.  I went into the hospital that day, July 31st.

At the hospital I felt weaker and weaker.  I just wanted to sleep and have my headache go away.  I was sent down to the labs for test.  For a very long time I lay in a tunnel like tube, for a CAT scan of my brain.  The doctors thought I had viral encephalitis.  The little noise from the machine ripped at my head.  Then I was taken out to be given an I.V.  The technician was unable to find my vein for the IV.  A second tech tried to put in the I.V.  Then they called their supervisor to put the I.V. into my arm.  I felt so sick yet they tried over and over again to find my vein, put in the needle, and not have the vein collapse.  After a very long time of trying the supervisor said:  "If I can't get it in this last time, I'll have a doctor put something in."  The last time took.  Then I was returned to the "tunnel" for more tests.

Finally I was taken to my room.  I hoped I could be allowed to rest.  No sooner was I laying in bed, with the cool cloth pressed to my fevered brow, than my doctor walked in.  He had another doctor with him, a specialist, to look at me.  I had to answer question after question for them.  A nurse was at my side taking my blood pressure.  Another nurse was nearby fixing my I.V.  The new doctor started to lecture me because I had no insurance.  Inside I wanted to just be left alone.  The specialist said he was going to do a spinal tap.  I pleaded with them to not do this until my headache went away.  The nurse at my side took my temperature.  I felt her kind of startle when she read it.  I asked her what my temperature was?  She said very high.  I asked how high, she just repeated herself.  I asked her again and I thought I heard her say 104.6, then everyone in the room just left.

In a few minutes, the now gowned and masked doctors with at least five to six nurses re-entered my room.  As others came into my room they were told to wear masks also.  I could tell things were not going very well, to say the least.  Quickly the nurses worked, and the doctors talked rapidly.  I seemed to lose sense of it all.  I was put on a water mattress and packed in ice.

The specialist bent over me and said, "I have to have you turn over so I can do the spinal tap."  I cried, "No, not till my headache leaves me."  They gave me a shot of something for the pain and for a brief period of time, my headache seemed to be lifted.  The doctor tried to do the spinal.  After a few attempts it was decided to move me elsewhere to do it.  This was done and with much discomfort my spinal was completed.  I was told to rest, which I greatly desired to do.

My nurse came in often to check on me.  She told me to tell her when I needed to go to the bathroom, she would help me up.  It was about an hour after my spinal that I told her I needed to go to the bathroom.  She came to my side and helped me up.  Once I sat up and was about to get off the bed I felt like the force of an axe cracked my skull and ripped open my brain, my knees buckled.  My nurse called for help and I felt like I was passing out.  The nurses left and then returned and told me I couldn't leave the bed.

The pain was so great, my already aching head felt so full of fire.  My numbness seemed to cover my whole body, even my teeth would go numb.  I was given pain killers which, each time they were administered, made my heart feel like it would stop beating.  As the pain killers wore off I felt great terror, as if waking from a bad dream.  This terrible hospital routine was continued every 15 minutes. The nurse came in and held a light to each eye and asked me questions like, "What is your name?"  "Do you know where you are?"  "What day is it?"  Oh, how I just wanted to sleep.  Around midnight my nurse said, "I'm going on my break now.  I'll see you in a half an hour."  She never returned.  The head nurse stayed by my bedside that night.

Morning came.  How I hated the sunlight coming through the cracks in the window and door.  I held the cool cloth to my eyes, an ice pack surrounded my head and body.  My temperature was still very high.  I asked my doctor if they could give me another type of medicine for the pain.  I said I was afraid my heart would stop when it entered my body.  I was placed on morphine.  I didn't feel that it did much for my pain, but I realized it was helping when the drug began to wear off.  I was so very sick now I started to vomit and have diarrhea.  I knew my liver was inflamed, I was told I had blood and puss in my stools.  My husband was told that morning my temperature went to 106; something I didn't learn until much later.  I was so weak; I wanted no visitors or phone calls.  I was too tired to even speak, and at times I felt like I would forget how to breathe.

All I desired was to sleep, but I was too tired to sleep.  Whenever I would try to sleep, after the nurse would leave the room, I would be awakened by people coming into my room.  Groups of families would come in, I could tell they were talking to each other but no one was speaking out loud.  Of course, the whole time I saw these people I had a cold wash cloth covering my shut eyes.  I was greatly disturbed by these people.  I almost wished to tell the nurse to get them out of here.  But, I knew she would think me crazy because no one was there.  Surely she would have seen them by now.

For almost a week I laid in the hospital.  Suffering one test after another.  On the sixth day, after finding out, finally, what my problem was, I was sent home to slowly recover.  But up until that time I truly had not known if I would live or die.  I knew I was really bad off.  I could see it in people's eyes as they visited me; a look of shocked horror at my wasted condition.  I was asked about a living will and my feelings on death.  I could hear it in my parents' concerned voices as they spoke to me every day on the phone.  I saw it in my husband's very tired red eyes.  And knew it in my children's fear to come next to my bedside.

But, what I wish to describe to you is the other people who visited me in the hospital.  For eight months after my illness I wondered if I had just hallucinated this - after all I was on morphine at the time.  I would walk around the house and continually say to myself:  "I almost died, I almost died."  In writing a letter to my brother Jim one day, I knew for once, what I had experienced was real.  Probably more real than most of us realize.

As I mentioned before, when the nurses would leave the room a group of people would come into the room.  They would walk through the door, their feet didn't quite touch the floor.  They never really looked at me but yet they knew that I was there.  They didn't speak to me, yet I knew exactly their relationship to each other.  They were in family units.  The youngest were in their teen's or early twenties, parents were in their late twenties or thirties, a grandmother would look only a few years older than her daughter and so on.  I could understand why Adam was called the Ancient of Days.  Sometimes, I did see those that looked as old as their forties.  There was a soft quiet peace about them.  I never could stop spanning their faces to see if my grandmother was among them.  I felt if I saw Grandma then it was my time to die.  She was never there.

The worse I became the more of them, it seemed, came into my hospital room.  Sometimes so many would fill the room that I would see the hospital room walls fade away.  But, I could always see the faint outline of its walls.  They were transparent.  It makes me think of how people say the veil is thin between this life and the next.

When enough people entered and it started to overflow the room.  The walls faded away.  I would feel myself float up. I would remain in a reclining position while everyone else was standing upright.  As I said before, their feet didn't seem to quite touch the floor.  They never spoke to me or even looked at me, but I would follow them.  At this point it seemed the only relief I ever had from my headache.  It was there but close to a memory.  I floated along and came to where they stood talking with each other.

Sometimes I would see them playing checkers.  No one was moving their lips but yet they were engaged in the most lively conversations.  Still others where playing croquet together.  (Their playing croquet always seemed to trouble me, in fact, for the longest time, when I related this fact to others I always felt quite strange in saying that they did this.)  As I followed or moved amongst them others would join the group.  Having discovered my grandmother was not among them, I would then set about watching them, and soon, I would know exactly how each of them were related to each other.  But, no sooner would I leave their sides than that understanding would leave me.  At the time, I did not understand the need to even remember this knowledge.  I often remember asking myself if this was a dream.  Sometimes after saying this, I would discover myself alone in my hospital bed.  Since this scene was repeated over and over again to me, at least twenty times I made it beyond the hospital walls, I soon grew to just be curious and follow these people and watch what was happening.

After people were playing croquet I would move on to a bunch of people, there was a great number of them at this point.  Some would be standing or sitting under a tree, eating picnic lunches.  Always talking in lively conversation to each other, without moving their lips.  As I listened to them or watched them I always felt something was missing, that they had no value to what they were doing.  There was no growth or learning going on.  The only thing of any importance was the relationship they had to each other.  Even this in itself was very faint, and in time it could be lost and forgotten.

As I began to gain in strength and was sent home from the hospital these people never came to visit me again.  But the memory of this has haunted me.  The people I saw were dressed in period clothing of the late 1800's early 1900's - the Victorian Era.  It really bothered me that I did not see people dressed in white, and my grandmother was not amongst them.

Now it has been revealed to me who they are.  They are my ancestors.  I know it was not my time to join them.  My patriarchal blessing says that my days will be extended until I am satisfied with life.  I believe I am now living in my extension.  I was most definitely near death when I was in the hospital.  I crossed over the veil many times, but was never meant to stay.  I believe my grandmother will come to me when it is time to go there.  She was somewhere else learning the gospel of Jesus Christ and growing in knowledge.  The people I saw could be her family, most definitely they were mine.

I realize now some of them are of English descent, because of the symbolism of them playing croquet.  This book (website) that I now write is in remembrance of them.  Those that I do not know their names.  If I could I would invite them to my family picnic, along with all who's name lie within this book (website).  For as I saw them come together not all directly related to anyone person, sometimes, in-laws, cousins' wives, etc.  So they would somehow be woven into my great family picnic.  My genealogy is in quest of those I saw, but cannot remember their names.  I know if we are faithful we will be linked to each other, together, creating one big family picnic.

You can read my complete Near Death Experience as recorded in Arvin Gibson's book "Echoes from Eternity" here:


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I keep thinking that one day in your research you are going to come across a family picture with the this family all seated around a checker board. And when you see it, you will know immediately how you are all related and you will know all their names and relationships again.