Alone and so high up on the
mountain, unseen and unknown to anyone, Thomas fell at noon on Sunday and was
discovered by a hiker Tuesday at 2:30 in the afternoon. The hiker noticed a
foot sticking out of a bush as he was hiking along the main trail. Thomas was
airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in critical condition for ten hours, but
it was during this time that he experienced a series of mental images. Like a
kaleidoscope enriched with bright light and meaning, a succession of mind
pictures took him far away towards a light as if to a higher plane of being.
The images before him were memories from is past seen in vivid clarity with a
fullness of unhindered emotion. Despite witnessing this rapid-fire joy of
sentimental recollection of scenes in his life, he cannot, as it were, bring
then closer for dissection. It was as if he witnessed it from above, slightly
removed, yet completely immersed in each scene's emotional meaning. It was a
form of joy he had never known before, distilled and pure, and infinitely
personal. The final and most enduring image was him seeing himself as a
ten-year old boy running across a meadow full of wildflowers chasing Josh and
laughing so much he might explode. It was pure and hopeful and innocent - a
moment of Aristotelean happiness that epitomized the innocence of his
childhood, a time before shadows of doubt clouded any possibility of pure joy.
It was as if it iwa engineered in such a way to create a synergy of warmth that
overwhelmed his heart and pulled his spirit towards it. It was a warmth of
quintessential equilibrium that calmed his center in a whirlwind all around him
that threatened to rip him apart.
The sharply lighted memories in his
life nurtured him. He coveted the absence of pain and the absoluteness of pure
joy he felt, so when he began regaining consciousness he resisted. He felt like
he was being sucked away from a womb that left him exposed and weakened and
vulnerable. The closer he moved to awaking, the farther away he was from the
rich light of color and heat that soothed my burning soul. His greatest desire
was to remain with the great brightness of pictorial emotion that gave him a
timeless and profound exultation and that perfectly matched everything he
sought subconsciously. In this state somewhere between life and death, he
struggled to embrace the light and color and warmth that healed his injured
He was aware of all this the moment
he regained consciousness in the intensive care unit. As if forced to the
surface in the sea by buoyancy, he fought to stay below the surface and savor
the beauty and personalized richness of these colors and pictures in a
prolonged moment of eternity.
When he finally awoke, after having
his hand on the doorknob to death, he was immediately aware that he had shared
his intense experience of recollection with all those whom he loved. Beyond the
bluntness of words, he knew it was an entry into a world of pure feeling where
absolute understanding brought absolute communication, which in turn brought
him into an absolute oneness of being. It was, perhaps, a glimpse of heaven.
Somehow he had been born again by
the unknown power of light.