by Ava Belle Chucta
I was born in January 1920, and I have had three near-death experiences. The first happened when I had measles at age seven. We had gone on a trip to Leadville, Colorado, a town above the timberline in the mountains southwest of Denver. My father worked in road construction all over the state of Colorado and he was going up there to check out a job.
We traveled in a Model-T dump truck. It was early fall, and it was getting cold. Three of us kids were on a feather bed covered with quilts in the back of the truck. My baby sister was wrapped in blankets on my mother’s lap on the front seat. There was not a cab on that truck.
We stayed in a hotel overnight in Leadville, and it was so cold in that room. It had linoleum on the floor that felt like ice when you walked barefoot on it.
On our way home, I was in the back of the truck again. I thought I was going to freeze to death. By the time we got home to Englewood (just south of Denver), I was running a high fever and had red spots all over me.
I was lying in bed, so sick, when all of a sudden I found myself up in the clouds. I knew I was on my way to Heaven, and I began to cry, thinking that my mother would be sad because I was gone. At that, I snapped back into my body. I was still terribly sick, but I lived through it.
The second experience occurred when I was 22 years old and mother of a 15-month-old boy. I was home in bed, sick with pneumonia. Suddenly, I found myself going through a tunnel of light. When I got to the end of the tunnel I stepped into the golden light that surrounded me with such love. I felt so good, and I wanted to stay. I could see people in the distance waving to me. But then the thought of my little boy came into my mind, and wham! I was back into my body.
From that pneumonia I developed tuberculosis and entered a sanitarium in Denver. There was no medication for TB at that time. You had to stay in the bed all the time. You weren’t even allowed out of your bed to go to the rest room; you had to use a bedpan. (Yuck!)
At the sanitarium, my right lung was collapsed through a procedure known as pneumothorax. The doctor would insert a long needle between the ribs, like a valve in a tire, and pump air into the pleural cavity. This would collapse the lung and help it to heal. It was very much like putting a splint on a very bad cut knuckle to keep it immobile. This procedure was done many times a week for four years; by the fifth year, it was only once a week.
When the doctor first began this treatment I had my third near-death experience. I left my body and went through the tunnel of light. When I stepped into the golden light, I thought, Oh boy! I’m here at last! But there was a gentleman standing just inside the light. He smiled, shook his head, and wham! I was back here again. I’m sure it was Jesus.—Crossnore, N.C.