I was 6 years-old and I wasn’t enrolled in school yet. I was my parents’ only child and my mother was so protective that she never allowed me to play in the backyard unless she is with me. To be honest, I was a very naughty child and I often get involved in troubles. I used to break dishes or vases and get away with it, while my mother and grandmother (my father’s mother) argue about it. So, it was a big large house and we lived in a room in the second floor. The house was located at a prestigious area which disappeared by now and became a center of medical laboratories and medical clinics. Unfortunately, one of the houses that have been sold and demolished is my grandfather’, the place I lived in.
We had a beautiful balcony in our room overlooking the garden; it was about 3 meters high above the garden. It had a rectangular shape and if you look down you can see a courtyard of concrete of 2 meters in width. It separates the house and a beautiful large garden. The garden was like heaven to me, it had citrus trees or what we call in Irag Narenj (bitter orange), in addition to orange, lemon, oak trees and palms. My grandmother planted a lot of plants and flowers and she took care of them very well. The balcony had a fence of 30 centimeters surmounted by a white and a beautifully engraved metal hedge.
Of course it was forbidden for me to sit at the balcony by myself. One day, I was playing in our room and my mother was hanging laundry to the clothesline when my grandmother called her. She went to talk to her and left the door to the balcony open. I took the chance, went to the balcony, climbed the metal hedge and stretched my body out of the balcony, trying to reach a branch. Suddenly, my mother came in and screamed in horror” Ihab! Get down, immediately!” I freaked out and loosed the hedge. I fell down in the courtyard and my mother’s screaming was the last thing I remember.
After a while, I opened my eyes and saw my mother, grandmother and my aunts crying and shouting. I stood up and told them “Why are you crying? I’m alright, please stop crying” but they couldn’t hear me. I was so surprised that they can’t see me! The weird thing of all is that their voices seemed heavy as if they shout in slow motion! I was trying to hug my mother and tell her that I’m okay but it was useless, she wasn’t even looking at me, she was looking somewhere else. I looked where she was looking and I was shocked, she was looking at my body! My body was there on the floor, my eyes were closed and my head was profusely bleeding. My body was on the floor and I was standing there at the same look at myself! This was so strange! However, I wasn’t so scared; I had this weird calmness deep inside. Everything around was so calm except for the crying of my mother, aunties and grandmother that sounded so far away as if it was coming from a deep well.
And while I’m on this condition, I heard children’s laughter, I looked around and there was no one. Gradually, the laughter voice got louder that I couldn’t hear the women’s crying anymore. “What does this laughter come from?” I wondered, I looked right and left and there was nothing! I looked up and saw something that was hard to believe. There were little girls and boys playing up in the air just above my head. They were flying like birds and they were cheerful and laughing of happiness. Their faces were amazingly bright and so was the sky!
I was taken by the children’s joy and was distracted for a while from what happened to me. After that, I saw people coming in to my house and one of them was our neighbor Abu Ahmed who was a doctor. He yelled” Don’t be afraid, he will be alright by God’s will, give him some space so he can breathe”. He was blowing in my mouth and pressing my chest, he was giving CPR of course but I was too young to know what he was doing. I wasn’t afraid but I felt sorry for my mother. I looked at her and shouted hopefully she hears me “I’m here mom, I’m fine, please don’t cry”. However, all my attempts were useless. I looked up again to the children and one of them was waving to me as if he was trying to tell me come up here. I yelled “I can’t fly” but he continued to wave to go up there.
In the meanwhile, a pretty young woman showed up from the front door. She was so beautiful and shining. She was wearing white and looked like she was walking in the air! I felt pleased to see her and stood speechless gazing at her. She approached me, smiled at me and said “don’t be afraid my dear Ihab”.
“I’m not afraid, I just feel sorry for my mother. Can’t you see how sad she is?” I said.
She said “it’s alright my darling. She will cry for a while and then stops!”
I told her” How come you see me while they can’t” Pointing out to the men and women standing by my body.
She softly replied” They are alive my dear and we are dead”
What she said was quite strange to me! Dead! I had no idea what she was talking about. I was only 6 and don’t know what death really means. Once, I heard my mother talking about my dead uncle and when I asked her where did he go, she said that he went up to the sky to live happily ever after. So, I told that woman “aren’t we supposed to go the sky now?”
She gently said” Maybe it is not your time yet…not now… maybe many years later you can join them and fly with them” pointing out to the children up in the air. She added “don’t fear death, it’s not something bad”, then she kissed me on the forehead and said “convey my greetings and my love to your mother”. She moved away and the farther she moved, the darker everything became around me. I could no longer see or hear anything and I was completely lost in darkness.
I opened my eyes again and I saw my mother and many other people sitting around me, crying and begging God to have mercy on me. I had a terrible pain in my head and I started to cry, then everybody in the room yelled” Thank God! He is alive”. I was taken to the hospital where the doctors stitched my wound and covered it with gauze bandage. According to the medical checks and radiography reports, I had no serious injury and I would be recovered within few days. My mother was by my side during all of this. My father came in to the hospital and was so panicked and had tears in his eyes. He hugged me so tight that almost broke my ribs. I went home the same day with bandage on my head.
A few days later, my injuries were fully recovered and I was playing at the kitchen while my mother and grandmother were having tea. Suddenly, I turned to my mother and said “Oh! I forgot to tell you about the pretty young woman I met. She sends her greetings to you” My mother strangely looked at me and said” What young woman my dear?” I replied” the one whom I met while you were crying over my body at the courtyard” My grandmother looked at me and wondered “did you hear us crying?” I enthusiastically said “Yes I did. I talked to you and told you I was fine but you couldn’t hear me. So, the woman with the shining face came and told me that you can’t hear me because you were alive and we were dead!”
My mother unconsciously dropped the cup she was holding. My grandmother said “What are you talking about my dear? Maybe you were dreaming”. I tenaciously replied “No, I wasn’t dreaming. There were cheerful children flying in the sky”. What I said disturbed my mother, she looked at me and insisted “It was nothing more than a dream my dear”. I doggedly said again “No I wasn’t! I even saw our neighbor Abu Ahmed rescuing me”. There was silence, they looked at each other, then my grandmother ended the conversation saying “he is a little kid and doesn’t know what he is talking about”. That evening before I went to bed, my mother hugged me and whispered in my ear “How did she look like”. I told her “she was very pretty and has a shining face”. My mother kept silent for a while, and then I heard her talking to herself “I wonder who she is?”
Years passed quickly, were full of war and distraction, so I forgot, or properly saying, overlooked the incident that happened during my childhood. The one thing that reminds me of it is a faint scar on my forehead. In the early 90s, my grandmother passed away and the inheritors sold the house, so we had to move to a new one. I was no more the only child and I had brothers and sisters later on. By the late 90s, I left Iraq and moved to a European country, I settled there and got married. My parents stayed in Bagdad and few years later my father passed away.
Every year or two, I used to visit my family in Bagdad and check on them. During my last visit, my mother asked me to go with her and visit her aunt. I have never met her aunt, because my mother and she had some troubles back then concerning heritage issues. My mother’s aunt was an elderly woman; she was more than 90 years-old. She lived with her daughter and grandchildren in a modest house in one of the most old neighborhoods in Bagdad.
She was the opposite of what I thought. When I entered her house, I saw a tiny elderly woman who in a fine shape. I mean she was capable of easily walking and talking and she had a strong memory. She, her daughter and grandsons genially welcomed us and as usual the first conversation was about family circumstances; who got married, who died, who got children, who traveled and so on. I was too happy to meet family members that I have never met before. My mother’s aunt told her daughter to bring the family album she was keeping in her room to recall memories. My mother and her aunt sat together flipping the album over and over and my mother asks her about some people in the pictures every once in a while. The pictures were so old as if they belong to Decius era! I was busy talking to the old woman’s grandson; he was almost as old as me, so we talked about things that were happening in Iraq and so. My mother came to me with the album in her hand pointing to a timeworn picture saying “look how elegant and classy your grandfather was when he was a youth”. She was pointing at a “gentleman” wearing a chic suit and a hat. My mother showed me many picture of her family whom I never knew because of their inimical history.
While my mother was flipping over the album, she pointed at one photo and said” this is your grandmother, look how beautiful she was when she was young”. I looked at the photo and I immediately felt like someone had just slapped me on the face! The woman in the picture was the one I saw when I passed out when I was young…it’s her! The pretty shinning young woman!
I finally knew who she was. She was my grandmother (my mother’s mom) and I had never seen her before because she died when I was a baby.
My mother noticed my confusion “What’s wrong my dear?” she asked me. I said “Nothing at all. I’m just surprised of how beautiful she was”. My mother laughed and said “Whence do you think our family inherited beauty?!”
That evening, we went back home and I couldn’t tell my mother, I thought that she wouldn’t believe me. However, I decided to tell her the last day of my trip before I leave Iraq. So, we were watching TV, I took a deep breath and said “Mom! Do you remember the day I fell from the balcony and passed out?” She moaned and said “How can I forget the day I have almost lost you?!” I replied “Do you remember what I told you about seeing a pretty young woman asking about you?” She said “I remember my dear, but I think it’s your imagination, you were only 6”. I knew she wouldn’t believe me but I said again “I swear to you mom! that pretty young woman I told you about once is my grandmother, the one you showed me in the picture” She insisted on saying” you were just a little kid, you are confused” but I insisted as well “I’m sure it’s her”. She kept silent for a while then said “May God have mercy on her soul” and not a single word after! I think she didn’t believe me.
I left Iraq the next day and unfortunately it was the last time I saw my mother. She had a heart attack two months later and passed away. Sadly, I was not able to catch the funeral because of very hard conditions. My soul was filled of sorrow and remorse that I used to wake up at night sobbing and calling for her. My wife and children were very concerned and advised me to see a psychologist.
One night, few weeks later to my mother’s death, I slept early thinking of her and of my childhood memories. I was so sad and had tears in my eyes, I fell asleep and start dreaming.
I saw myself in my childhood house and I was standing at the courtyard, exactly where I fell when I was young. On my left was the same large charming garden and on my right was the house patio that extends to the main door. The place was the same as I saw it when I passed out once, it was so calm. Afterwards, I heard the voice of kid’s laughter, I looked up and I saw them again! They were the flying cheerful children I saw once, but they didn’t wave to me this time. While I was standing looking at them, the front door opened and two beautiful shining women came in. One of them was my mom! Yes she was my mother, she was young and pretty just as I remember her during my childhood. The other woman was my grandmother, the same woman I saw when I was young. They both were wearing white and where shining like the sun in midday! They looked like sisters and not a mother and a daughter! I wanted to run toward them but I couldn’t as if I was fixed at my place. My grandmother stood at the door while my mother approached me with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen! I started to cry like a baby and shouted “Mom! Are you back?!” I’m so sorry mom…I love you so much” she kissed me on the cheek and softly said “I know my darling. I love you too and I’m not angry at you…I’m here to tell you this…don’t be sad my dear, I’m at a beautiful place with the one I love; my mom, my dad and my brother Kamel –who died when he was a child-“. I eagerly said “how is dad? Is he with you?” She didn’t answer me and kept saying “Don’t be sad my dear, I want you to stop crying”. Then she kissed me once again on my cheek and turned to her mother who was standing by the door waving and smiling at me. I yelled “mom! Please don’t go…will I see you again?” She turned and said “sure you will my darling. We are all waiting for you…we will meet someday…stay good as you are now to your family and to others and you shall come to me my dear”. Then, she held her mother’s hand and both left the house while I stood alone crying and shouting “mom! Please don’t go! Mom…I need my mom”. While I was crying, I felt someone pushing my body so hard that I woke up to find myself in my bed! It was my wife and son sitting by my side; they were very anxious and worried. My wife said “Ihab! Ihab! Wake up! Are you okay? Why are you crying?” My son brought me a cup of water and wiped the tears of my face.
That dream was a sort of relief, my mom saved my life. Her warm heart saved me from sorrow and regret and showed the right path I should follow to reach eternal happiness.
Many of you will wonder why it happened to me and not somebody else. In fact, I really don’t know the reason, God knows. Maybe it has something to do with the incident that happened to me when I was young or maybe it is God’s will; he chooses who see what others can’t. I have read many stories on the internet of people with near-death experience stories, so I decided to write mine. Hopefully, my story changes people’s life as it completely changed mine.