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My father took me and my older brothers ( 10 and 11) to the Rio Guaiba River in Porto Alegre, Brazil for a day of fun and fishing when I was eight years old. It was a beautiful, hot sunny day and we asked my dad if we could walk up to the river a little bit on our own while he set up camp for us.
At first, he said no but reluctantly finally agreed after all three of us kept begging him to let us go. But, he told us, we had to agree to not go in the water. I remember him repeatedly telling us not to go in the water. In hindsight, I wonder if he somehow sensed the danger that lay ahead of us.
We began to walk near the water leaving my father to work with the camp arrangements until we came to a bush that was half in land and half in the water. At this point, one of us had the idea of grabbing onto the bush to get to the other side. I remember my brother Marco went first. Within seconds, he lost his footing and went under the water. My oldest brother Carlon raced to help Marco but he couldnât hang on and ended up in the water as well.
Neither I nor my two brothers knew how to swim. But instead of running to get my father after my seeing my two brothers plunge into the waters, I jumped in to try to save my brothers without even thinking of my own safety.
I struggled frantically in the water looking for my two brothers. I couldnât see them and I was so scared. The water engulfed me quickly as I tried desperately to breathe. But there was no more oxygen; I could not breathe. I could only panic as I moved my arms and legs hysterically trying to save my life. My body was hitting things under the water. I donât know what these things were but I can tell you they were very painful.
The current of the river was moving very fast from west to east towards the ocean. I canât recall how much time went by but I reached a point when I just couldnât move anymore. I just floated underwater until I came to the bottom of the river. The water was brown so I couldnât see anything but I didnât need to see to know that I was dying.
I tried to scream, âPLEASE GOD HELP ME!â My mother used to take me to church so I knew about God. And I donât know how but I knew that He was the only one who could help me. My life started to fade but then I heard the most pleasing voice telling me to just relax and that everything was going to be okay. I then felt arms embracing me.
Although I still could not see, I knew it was the embrace of a male. He was very kind and gentle. I was happy and confused all at the same time. Soon we were floating in midair and that was when I realized that I was not actually dead. We started moving upward at an extreme speed. All of my pain was gone and I could breathe easily again. My body was not solid anymore. I could see right through it but I could still feel myself.
We then began going towards this beautiful light. As we got closer to it, the light just engulfed me. It was brighter than the sun but didnât hurt my eyes. The male angel that was with me said, âTchauâ and faded away. I was remained there floating for a moment wondering, âWhat just happened? What does tchau mean?â
Itâs difficult to explain but I felt connected to everything and everything was connected to me. Then I felt like I was not alone anymore and began to see the shape of a man coming towards me. When he got close enough, I felt the most beautiful feeling of love and belonging that I have ever felt. There are just no words that my human mind can come up with to accurately describe this feeling.
Imagine that you are in an airplane and then it blows up. Then you wake up and realize that it was all just a dream and that you are not dead. Well, this was kind of the feeling I experienced when I realized that I wasnât really dead. I was so happy to realize that I wasnât dead. But then again, I wondered where I was and why this place felt more real and more at home to me than earth did.
The male angel appeared again coming closer to me and speaking telepathically. He told me he was there to help me and answer my questions and boy did I have a lot of questions. But before he answered them, he showed me my life and it played before me like a movie. My life was going backwards. I remember thinking, âHow bad can this be, I am only eight.â The first thing I remember seeing was an incident when I used a key to scratch a car. I could feel the pain that I caused because of my actions.
Then I remember thinking, âOh, no! Iâm in trouble!â But at this point, my angel surprised me by saying, âDonât worry; there are just lessons.â Instead of being comforted by his words, I was a bit unnerved by the realization that he could read my thoughts. All this was going on as the movie continued to play showing second by second of my entire life. And, again, I could feel what I caused as a result of my actions.
Everything that I ever did seemed to have a life of its own. For example, I felt the pain the owner of the car experienced. Then I felt the pain his wife felt when he told her about it. This was all a very unpleasant feeling.
In addition to the not so pleasant times, I was shown the good times as well. I was shown the things I did out of love; like the time I had taken this homeless boy home with me. We showered together, we ate together and then I gave him some of my clothes. My angel was very happy about this and told me that these are the things that really matter, the things we do out of love for another person.
The âmovieâ continued as I now saw myself as a baby in my motherâs womb, then just as a molecule of life . . . really small but very much alive. Today, whenever I see woman having an abortion it makes me want to cry. They donât understand that God gave them this child for a reason; they were chosen by that child. I donâtâ know how I know this but I just do.
The scenes of my life finally came to a stop and then he said two words. Everything I ever wanted to know was answered by these two words. In an instant, I knew everything. Then suddenly I started to miss my mother, the sun, the rain, playing soccer and everything that made me happy. I started to think of my mother and I could feel the pain when she would find out that all three of her sons crossed over. But I also knew that I was being shown this because it wasnât my time yet. I sensed my mission was not complete and wanted to go back.
My near-death experience helped me to understand just how beautiful and fragile the earth really is. I could sense the earth breathing like it was alive. I could see a light around everything that was alive: trees, flowers, grass, animals, volcanoes and humans. Humans are in control over every living thing. Everything has an aura. I donât know why but the angel told me not to tell anyone and that in time it will reveal itself. To this, I said, âWhat?â But then I felt I jolt and realized that I was suddenly back in the water. Only this time, I was being held by a different angel who was pushing me out of the water. I was human again and back in my body. What a feeling this was! Being human is a beautiful gift!
I felt somewhat drunk as I reached the surface of the water and could see the breathtaking blue sky above. I began to breathe again but panicked as I thought of my brothers. âWhere are my brothers?â I uttered in alarm. I looked to my right and there they were safe and sound, right next to me walking out of the water. I then rejoiced thinking, âOH MY GOD! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!â I have tears in my eyes now just thinking about it.
People were running towards us, some were crying, some were smiling and hugging each other. They were as happy as I was, but why? I couldnât figure it out. Then I heard this police officer talking on his radio saying, âI found them. I found the kids.â He told the other officers to come up the river. After a few minutes, the other officers arrived and remarked in astonishment, âThis canât be them. They couldnât have survived 22 minutes in the water and lived to talk about it!â
The medical personnel that were at the scene agreed and they all went back down river looking for other kids. I was standing there in a state of shock. I wanted to tell them that it was indeed us. I tried to explain what happened but I could not get any words out of my mouth. I just couldnât speak. My mouth was moving but no sound was coming out.
I then looked up at the sky and said, âPlease give me my voice back, I wonât tell anyone! Slowly, I got my voice back! I do have a stuttering problem today but I donât care about that. Iâm alive and thatâs all that matters. I donât know which is better being back here or having the knowledge that we never die.
My experience changed my life. I try to do everything out of love. Truthfully, though, this is not always easy. We live in a world of uncertainty. People donât know who God really is and donât always understand the importance of love.
Since that fateful day at the river, I have asked my brothers what they remember about the experience. Marco told me that an angel told him not to talk about it. A week went by before I asked Carlon. When I did, I was told we died and an angel saved us. He said he also saw a movie.
We never really discussed the incident in depth, probably because we were all afraid that something would happen to us if we did. As the years went by and I got older, though, I began to have the urge to tell the world that both God and heaven are real. I pray that one day the human race, the sons and daughters of God, will live on earth with that same love and peace I felt on that day. I hope that one day we will all come to the realization that we are all one.