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Q&A Dr.Mary C.Neal
Q&A Dr.Mary C.Neal

A Conversation With the Best-selling Author of to Heaven and Back and the Recently Released 7 Lessons From Heaven

Is it possible to know what heaven is really like? Dr. Mary C. Neal is an orthopedic spine surgeon based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She lived an adventurous, outdoorsy life. Then a kayaking accident left her without oxygen for almost 30 minutes. In that interval between life and death, Dr. Neal believes she journeyed to heaven. Now, some 20 years later, she reflects on her near-death experience (NDE) and the startling foreknowledge she was given about her son….

Tell us what happened. 

In 1999, my husband, Bill, and I went kayaking with friends in the Chilean Andes. At the time, we had four young children. Our oldest, Willie, was 9, and we felt comfortable leaving the kids with their babysitter for a week. On the last day of the trip, our group paddled a section of river known for its waterfalls. Drops of 10 to 15 feet. Challenging but within our skill set. When we came to the first big drop, we decided to take a smaller chute on the side. I started down and discovered that another boater had blocked the entrance. A strong current pulled me to the main waterfall. I rocketed down, and my boat got stuck in submerged rocks. I couldn’t free myself— the current was too great for me to even move my arms. I was trapped under about 10 feet of water.

Did you panic?

I assumed I would die, but I didn’t tell God, “If you only save me, I will…” Instead, I very specifically asked that his will be done. I must’ve said those words in the Lord’s Prayer thousands of times. But, in that moment, I truly meant them. Immediately I was overcome with the sensation of being held and comforted by Jesus. I was reassured that everything would be fine. I never had a sense of “air hunger,” or drowning. I felt very at peace.

What happened next? 

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December/January 2018