English · Essay · Memoir

On Near Death Experiences and IANDS

On February 8, 2023, I attended a webinar hosted by International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS). This was my first time attending an IANDS webinar. What took me so long? Even if you haven’t experienced a Near-Death Experience (NDE), you will benefit from the depth and breadth of information from IANDS’ forty years of delving into human consciousness at the limits of life and death. It is at those moments that we come face-to-face with essential questions such as “Why are were here?”

I was a member of IANDS in the past, but I had somehow let my subscription lapse. Thankfully, at the beginning of the year, they reached out to me via email to advertise both their 2023 conference in Arlington, VA, and their upcoming webinars.

My most recent visit to France in November 2022 profoundly affected me and I’d been mulling over the meaning of my life’s journey and the role that my two near-death experiences had played in it. I simply would not be alive today without them. And I’m not saying that lightly. So, I took IANDS’ reaching out to me via email as a call to action and did two things:

  • I submitted a proposal for the IANDS conference whose theme is HAS YOUR NDE OR RELATED EXPERIENCE INSPIRED YOU INTO A NEW WAY OF BEING IN THE WORLD? Whether or not my proposal is accepted, I’m grateful to have taken it to heart as the questions that I had to answer helped me formulate what I need to write about.
  • I attended the webinar titled WHY ARE WE HERE? hosted by Janice Holden, EdD, and featuring author Sandi Taranto who wrote Dandelion Child.

I’m grateful to Sandi for sharing her experiences. She suffered horrific abuse in the foster system and has powerful things to say about the meaning of life and the role of her NDEs in her own life. I’m also grateful to her for raising the following three important points:

  • The memory of the NDE doesn’t change, but our interpretation of it does.
  • The problem comes when you describe to others what you experienced during an NDE.
  • The problem is not just one of word inadequacy but resides within the narrative structure.

Thank you to all the people involved in IANDS from the start! I found my tribe!

Photo by Diana Orey on Unsplash

English · Essay · Memoir

Vision Corrections

My stepmother informed me by email that my father was in critical condition after a fall occasioned by a stroke. He is in his eighties. Sorrow did not overtake me. This is not a Hallmark card.

The week prior to his fall, my father had called me in the middle of the night to hurl raging insults at me. Seriously. Barely hello. I was a monster, evil, the worst piece of this and that, etc., spiked up in hateful expletives — in French.

He doesn’t do that often, not even once a year. The problem was that, on that first night of October 2022 when my cell rang, I felt utterly defenseless. I had been sound asleep, farther into safety than the Atlantic Ocean and the entire North American continent. A daughter made
new by exile. In that state, I had no need for psychological defenses.

Before I could even think of hanging up on him, he had done much damage.

Much like a dictator does, or a recent US president.

Within minutes, my left eye was in pain. I experienced sudden vision loss like when I was four. Or six. I couldn’t remember exactly. I told my optometrist, who told me that the link between trauma and vision was now well-established and who explained that the sight difference between my left and right eyes was now so large that my brain had difficulty balancing the two extremes.

I did not expect that my father would still have the power to damage my body. I pondered what I had written in my essay, Revenge Savings. I decided enough was enough and booked a flight from Los Angeles to Bordeaux.

When I arrived, my father was up and walking about. His wife lifted his shirt to show me that his back was still purplish-black from the fall. I told him that I was losing my vision in my left eye, just like when he was going to make me love me since my mother would not when I was four, or six, no five, maybe, at the time when he and his new wife were getting engaged.

No end-of-life apologies for me but I did not back down. I went for the metaphorical kill. I even managed to, in real-time, point out his reactions. Reactions that “perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior,” Reactions which can be summed up as Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.

On the day of my departure, I stopped by his house one last time. My father refused to come out of his bedroom. His enabling wife said that he wasn’t feeling well. She would not allow me into his room out of concern for his health.


The vision loss in my left has now stabilized. I do hope that this healing sticks.