Where did it start? I often wonder where stories come from – especially this one, by far the most unusual of all. SHIMMERstate goes back a long time…
Many years ago, I attended a terminally sick gentleman. His body had given up the fight against cancer, leaving him frail and weak. This, quite naturally, was the reason why he became more and more depressed and short-tempered.
I came to know him quite well in those days. Twice a day I’d sit down next to his bed to try and convince him to see his family and friends; but he refused, saying he didn’t want them to see him like that.
“I used to be a big, strong man Doctor. In my youth I excelled in athletics and later I played wing for my club. Look at me now – I’m a pathetic bag of skin and bones. I don’t want hem to remember me like this. Anyway, mind your own business. The other patients are waiting for you.”
Despite his rebukes (and later, sullen silences) I’d spend time next to his bed every day, chatting about Life, Love, Faith and Hope…even the subject he detested and feared: Death. Whenever I sat down with him, I’d be met with a scowl and a tired sigh.
Then, one morning, he flashed me a brilliant smile as I walked into his room. He was – quite obviously – in a tremendously happy mood. I asked about it.
“Last night, two men visited me. They were dressed in white robes and stood at the foot of the bed while they spoke to me. They told me too say my goodbyes today, Doc, and that they’d be here at eleven tonight to escort me home.
“I can’t explain it, but after they left, a feeling of excited anticipation settled inside me. I understand things so much better now. Please, Doc, tell my family I’d like to see them. Please?”
I asked the night staff: no, nobody visited him during the night. His room was right opposite the nursing station, they’d have noticed…
He spent the day with his family and friends, encouraging them, telling them not to worry. He knows where he’s going now, he told them; the fear of the unknown is gone.
That night, at exactly eleven, he smiled, closed his eyes – and was gone.
That incident planted a seed that would take more than two decades to germinate. During that time, other patients and other events added to my impression that we are so much more than a body. And finally, when I sat down to write SHIMMERstate, the story came to me as a complete unit – I only had to write it down. Even so, it took three years.
I’m not a theologian, and my talent is not to convey a message with a dry, unexciting thesis. I’m a story-teller: that’s what I do best. So, SHIMMERstate is the story of a simple man who experiences a near-death event. In his comatose state, he leaves his body and gets involved in the ultimate adventure of his life.
My wish is that the book will help people to look at Life with new eyes; that we’ll start questioning the superficial values society accepts, and that we’ll appreciate each other with greater respect.