November 27, 2022

The Best Account of an NDE You’ll Ever See: An Absolute Must!

The other day my friend, Jeff Janssen, the author of Your Life’s Ripple Effect, a wonderful book about the lessons of the life review, sent me a link to a video of an NDE and urged me to see it as soon as possible. I obeyed and set aside what I had been working on to view it. I could see why Jeff raved about it. Both he and I have seen numerous such videos and accounts of NDEs on YouTube, but this one was absolutely mind-blowing – the best and most moving I had ever seen.  

I then sent it to my webmaster, Kevin Williams, himself an expert on NDEs, and he agreed with me, writing, “I watched the full video and was ‘blown away’ by her testimony. I have never heard such an articulate account of an NDE…. It is one of the best I have ever seen. I know people will be blessed by watching it.”

Kevin and I agreed that we wanted to share it with you, but we decided to wait until after the Thanksgiving holidays to do so. You don’t have to thank me for this, but I believe, with Kevin, that you will be thankful to have watched it.

Some advisories before you do. It’s 55 minutes long and you’ll have to skip a brief advertisement before the video loads (and there are a few very brief commercial interruptions, as is usual on YouTube, that you can skip). But I suggest that you reserve a time when you will not be interrupted or distracted (best to mute your phone, too) and watch it straight through.

If you are as moved by this video as much as Jeff, Kevin and I were, feel free to share it with your friends and family. Although I can no longer research or write books about NDEs, thanks to the internet I can still pass along accounts like this one that assure us that when we die, we will experience wonders that no words could ever convey, though the testimony of this NDEr comes as close as possible.

Now, here’s the video:

November 20, 2022

Remembering Two Exceptional Near-Death Experiencers

Vicki Umipeg

Some years ago when I was still actively researching NDEs, I was struck and fascinated by occasional anecdotal reports that blind people were actually able to see during their NDEs. Musing on these reports, I felt that, if they could be verified, they would provide powerful support for the authenticity of NDEs. Indeed, more than that – they would be mind-blowing. So I decided to look into this to see if there was really documented evidence for such cases.

I knew that such now legendary pioneers of NDEs as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Raymond Moody had recounted such stories, but neither Kübler-Ross nor Moody were systematic and careful researchers, and could not provide me with the evidence I was seeking. I was excited to read about a case in a then new book by Larry Dossey whose work I respected, but he later shamefacedly confessed that he had made it up. His justification? He had heard the same stories I had and simply assumed they must be true. In any case, though I diligently searched to unearth such documented cases, I simply could not find any! Unfortunately, as intriguing as these stories were, there was no evidence to support them.

So I decided to launch my own study. And before long, I had struck gold. Her name was Vicki Umipeg and this is her story.

I had told a good friend and colleague, an NDEr herself, named Kim Sharp about the study I had just undertaken, and she replied excitedly that at one of the monthly meetings she ran for people interested in NDEs in Seattle, a blind woman named Vicki had shown up – and had claimed she had been able to see during her NDE!

Whoa! Could that be true? If so, what an amazing bit of serendipity that would be. Needless to say, I was both ears, and by the time we finished our conversation, Kim promised to send me a tape of Vicki’s presentation and to put me in touch with her. Bingo!

I received the tape shortly afterward and a few days later, I called Vicki to introduce myself. We hit it off, and I wound up speaking to her many times on the phone and, later, on two occasions, was able to visit her and husband. During the first of those visits, I conducted my own interview with Vicki about her life history and her two NDEs. This is what I learned.

When I first met Vicki, she was 43 years old, married and the mother of three children (she eventually had two more). She was born several months premature, weighing only three pounds at birth. In those days, oxygen was often used to stabilize such babies in their incubators, but too much oxygen was given to Vicki, resulting in the destruction of her optic nerve. As a result of this miscalculation, she has been completely blind since birth.

As I have indicated, Vicki had two NDEs. One occurred when she was 20 as a result of an appendicitis attack. The second one, which was more vivid and complex, took place two years later when she was involved in an automobile collision.

When I had listened to the tape that Kim has sent me, I was immediately intrigued by what Vicki had said at the outset about her two NDEs: “Those two experiences were the only time I could ever relate to seeing, and to what light was, because I experienced it. I was able to see.”

I remember that a frisson of excitement passed through me when I heard those remarkable words. Now that I was actually with Vicki, I could learn more about the visual aspects of her experience.

At one point during her second NDE, while in the hospital, she told me that she had found herself out of her body. I asked her to tell me more about that.  

What follows are some excerpts from my interview with her:

Vicki: The first thing I was aware of is that I was up on the ceiling, and I heard this doctor talking – it was a male doctor – and I looked down and I saw this body and at first, I wasn’t sure it was my own. But I recognized my hair. [In a subsequent interview, she also told me that another sign that had helped her become certain she was looking down upon herself was the sight of a very distinctive wedding ring she was wearing.]

Me: What did it (her hair) look like?

Vicki: It was very long … and it was down to my waist. And part of it had to be shaved off, and I remember being upset about that. [At this point, Vicki overheard a doctor saying to a nurse that it was a pity that because of an injury to her ear, she could wind up deaf as well as blind.]

I knew, too, the feelings they were having. From up there on the ceiling, I could tell they were very concerned, and I could see them working on this body. I could see that my head was cut open. I could see a lot of blood [though she could not tell its color – she still has no concept of color, she told me].

Me: What’s the next thing you remember?

Vicki: I went up through the roof then. And that was astounding!

Me: What was that like for you?

Vicki: Whew! It’s like the roof didn’t … it just melted.

Me: Was there a sense of upward motion?

Vicki: Yes, um-hum.

Me: Did you find yourself above the hospital?

Vicki: Yes.

Me: What were you aware of when you reached that point?

Vicki: Lights, and the streets below, and everything. I was very confused about that. [This was happening very fast for her, and she found seeing to be disorienting and distracting. At one point, she told me, she found that seeing was “frightening” to her.]

Me: Could you see the hospital below you?

Vicki: Yes.

Me: What could you see around you?

Vicki: I saw lights.

Me: Lights of the city?

Vicki: Yes.

Me: Were you able to see buildings?

Vicki: Yeah, I saw other buildings, but that was real quick, too.

I don’t have space here to describe the rest of Vicki’s experience, so I can only provide the briefest summary of it. She next found herself in a heavenly realm of light and beauty in which she encountered children whom she had known but who had died – and she could see them as well as other things. She eventually is greeted by a radiantly glowing figure whom she understands is Jesus who gently tells her she must return in order to have her children, which thrills Vicki because she had yearned to become a mother (and did).  

In fact, Vicki described the classic type of otherworldly NDE that Raymond Moody was to make famous in his groundbreaking 1975 book, Life After Life. But Vicki knew nothing of such experiences when she had her NDE since it occurred in 1973. The only thing that was different about it is that Vicki was blind at the time, but you could never tell that from reading her account. 

Vicki died in June of this year, though I didn’t learn about her death until several months afterward. But her story lives on not only in my book, Lessons from the Light, and in more detail along with other such cases in another book of mine, written with Sharon Cooper, entitled Mindsight, but on the Internet. So if you’d like to learn more about Vicki, you can consult those books, but even better, find her on YouTube!

Beverly Brodsky

In August, 1990, I spoke at the IANDS conference in Washington, D.C. The turnout that year was large and I was delighted to see many old friends and colleagues there. One morning after my talk, I arranged to have breakfast with about a half dozen people I didn’t know who had expressed a wish to meet and talk with me. 

When I arrived, there was already a rather intense conversation going on between two of the attendees. I was particularly struck by the woman of the pair. Small, slender and swarthy in complexion, she spoke intently and with a tone of great seriousness about her own experience, which I quickly discerned had been her NDE. Frankly, I was more aware of her manner of speaking than of the content of her conversation, but I was already sure I would want to talk with her privately after the gathering had broken up.  

I was able to track her down afterward, but at that time I already had another engagement, so our conversation had been brief and truncated. We didn’t even have time for her to tell me more about her NDE, but I knew I was keen to know her story and more about her. I asked her if she would be willing to write out a version of it and send it to me at the University of Connecticut.

A week later, a long letter arrived from her with a detailed account of her NDE. I was immediately riveted. She wrote beautifully and with great eloquence about her NDE, which turned out to be one of the most complete and profound I had ever come across. I was really stunned, bowled over, full-dazzled, to quote a term I picked up from Walt Whitman. Who was this woman, Beverly Brodsky? I was determined to find out.

Thus began a deep and loving friendship that was to enrich my life for the next three decades.

Bev had grown up in a non-observant but Conservative Jewish home in Philadelphia. As she told me in her letter, “the atmosphere was materialistic, and, for me, claustrophobic. In high school girls were judged by their clothes and beauty. Bookish, shy, and serious, I went through my teens as an atheist. Since learning ... about the Holocaust at age 8, I had turned angrily against any early belief in God. How could God exist and permit such a thing to occur?”

All this would change, drastically, after her NDE. I don’t have the space here to recount her NDE – it is far too long – but you can read it in my book, Lessons of the Light, and perhaps elsewhere. All I want to do in this memorial to Bev is to tell you a little about Bev, as I came to know her over the years of our friendship.

We stayed in touch, mostly through correspondence, but before long, Bev had got involved in IANDS, so we were sometimes able to meet at IANDS’ board meetings or conferences. Since I was Jewish, too, there seemed to be natural bond between us. We palled out, we took walks together, we had many deep conversations.

Because she wrote so articulately and had been so profoundly transformed by her NDE, I wanted her to write a book about her life. I thought her story was extremely important. She wanted to write that book, and in the years to come, she endeavored to so, but never could, particularly because, as I was to learn, she continued to have daunting health issues.

When I was with Bev, I felt protective of her. I could sense her vulnerability, her physical fragility. Strong and passionate in her mind, but weak in her body. I was always mindful of her struggles with her health and other hardships of her life.

Bev was married with one daughter, and eventually both of us moved to California, she and her family to El Cajon, a town near San Diego, where I once visited her, and I, to Marin County. I had just retired from the University and Bev, who had a puckish sense of humor, made up a couple of signs for my office corkboard. Here is a blurry photo of one of them underneath which you may be able to make out a photograph of her and me in those years.

I’m not religious, but Bev every Hannukah would be sure to send me a little Hannukah card with dimes attached along with a humorous greeting.

By then, Bev was involved in leading a Friends of IANDS group and occasionally writing NDE-related articles, but she hated living in El Cajon, as she wrote me. She missed her family back east, and, worse, she had a stroke and could no longer drive. “Where I live, not being able to drive is a crippling thing, like a noose around your neck. With these health challenges, I wish my sister and my friends were here to come over for a cup a tea.”

But she was still thinking of writing her book. She sent me many e-mails talking about her plans to do so, her contact with potential publishers, etc., but nothing ever came of these hopes. The trials of her body just wouldn’t permit it.

Gradually, Bev’s e-mails got shorter and shorter, and eventually, she mostly got in touch when Hannukah rolled around. But after 2018, I ceased to hear from her.

I imagine she was starting to get really ill then. At that point, we lost touch with each other. I might have written her again, but got no response. I gather from her daughter’s notice about Bev’s death that Bev had become demented before she died, but I’m not sure for how long.

When I think of Bev, I don’t think of her as embodied, with all her physical trials and hardships, but as a bright, lambent spirit, radiating pure joy and love throughout eternity. Her NDE is her testament, and it will continue to live and inspire everyone who is lucky enough to read it.  I can think of no greater tribute to this luminous soul than her own words with which her account of her NDE concludes:

Although it’s been twenty years since my heavenly voyage, I have never forgotten it. Nor have I, in the face of ridicule and disbelief, ever doubted its reality. Nothing that intense and life-changing could possibly have been a dream or hallucination. To the contrary, I consider the rest of my life to be a passing fantasy, a brief dream, that will end when I again awaken in the permanent presence of that giver of life and bliss.

For those who grieve or fear, I assure you of this: there is no death, nor does love ever end. And remember also that we are aspects of the one perfect whole, and as such are part of God, and of each other. Someday you who are reading this and I will be together in light, love and unending bliss.

November 13, 2022

In Memoriam: The Last Days of Bonnie Treadwell

October 28, 2022

Bonnie Writes:

Dear Ken --- I am pasting in below a letter I recently wrote to an Arizona friend … 

“I’m wearing my beloved grandmother’s wedding ring now … I called/call her Mammy, my true mother …. because I’m begging her for help. I have some things to tell you. Since about the first part of August, my physical body has gone downhill really quick. Just almost overnight. First, I couldn’t lift my leg to get in the tub/shower. Was puzzled … why can’t I lift my legs? … and from there things just got worse. Then I couldn’t get into bed, couldn’t get in the car, legs just not working.  
To back up a little and probably tell you things I’ve already told you … I was born with lipedema which morphs into lymphedema as age progresses, causing varicose veins, ruined knees, major swelling, etc. (Such fun.) I also was born with scoliosis, and other back problems then came along for the ride, one of which is spinal stenosis. Now that’s a real fun one … prevents walking, a biggie. Other major things happen as you get older because spinal nerves are being impacted.
Truth is, I’ve lived way too long. I really thought I would be outta here before those nerves got into a tangle. Never thought I’d live to almost 90. Now I’ve got to deal with it. There’s more …I can’t breathe … was just diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. Oh, and that’s not all … add congestive heart failure to that, and even more attacks from lymphedema on now my whole body, torso, arms, more on already deformed legs, and, oh my tummy looks like I’m overdue pregnant with quads. All of this swelling makes the skin very tight and painful.  
This body is worn out …I hurt almost everywhere … and, frankly I don’t want to be saved and will NOT go to a hospital. I always wondered what would take me out, and now I guess I know, but it’s so many I don’t know which one will do the deed! Was hoping for a quick heart attack … or slipping away in my sleep somehow.  
That said, I’m ready to go and am begging my beloved grandmother, my Mammy, to please come and get me. That probably won’t work, so don’t get out your crying handkerchief just yet. If I’d been smart, I would have somehow gotten something long ago to take to stash away until I wanted it, but just couldn’t imagine living this long.  
My strong determination to hang around until the pandemic was over and until Brenda has a somewhat normal life again has wilted. The desire to not leave her here by herself in this house with no one but Bootsie ... her dog … has kept me motivated to stay. (I had 2 years of almost complete isolation while living in K., and nearly went nuts and don’t want her to experience that.)   
But I have now wimped out. And what lies ahead is not easy to think about. I don’t want to put Brenda through my care-taking which is going to be intense if I keep on living forever and ever. Already she’s remodeled the bathroom for me, and I probably won’t be around long to use it that much … I hope. Have I told you that Brenda is an angel?
Just thought you might want to know all of this but there’s no need to fret … unfortunately, I’ll probably live long enough to spend lots of time regretting even more my multitudes of mistakes and errors throughout this too-long lifetime! ---  
PS … My grandmother’s wedding ring is a gold buckle ring, Victorian/Edwardian style … they married in 1909. One time she lost it in the garden and found it a year later … in the garden! I love wearing it, and hope that it calls her to me … soon.”
So, here I am, Ken, telling you that I’m on hospice now and so grateful for their assistance and care. Hospice now doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Mostly it’s about comfort, right to the end. And the end can’t come soon enough ... As you probably remember, I’m ready, just so ready, to leave this worn-out body. 
Since I wrote that pasted letter (above) to my Arizona friend, things have gone downhill even more. Am now on oxygen, 24/7, and breathing is a real problem, even with oxygen. Sometimes I’d like to cry, but it takes too much breath to cry! 
My legs have gone numb up to my hips, although I can still walk with a walker … more like hobbling … but can’t even begin to get in bed by myself … Brenda has to lift my legs into bed. So embarrassing.
The hospice team checks on me and are guided by my doctor. Hospice provides most of whatever I need for comfort. Yes, morphine. And I take it gladly. I’m now a druggie … would you believe?!?!!  ☺  There’ll be no hospital, no “saving.” All of my paperwork is in order, right down to ordering my urn from Amazon!!

Thankfully both of my children are supportive and totally understand that I’m ready to leave, and they don’t want to see me suffer. We’ve had talks about it, and even some laughter, and I am so fortunate to have them. My son lives far away, so I don’t see him daily like I do Brenda … who is stuck with me and has been wonderful.
Ken, I do have a great fear, though, and that is that I just keep on living, going more downhill every day … oh, gosh, I’ve just got to get outta here, so if you have any “pull” with anyone in the “wherever” … please use it to help me leave!!!! I’m so disappointed every morning when I wake up and I’m still here. 
From reading your most recent blog, I am so pleased to see that you are handling this old age thing with cheerfulness and nary a drop of sadness and that you still enjoy the small niceties of life. That makes me happy. No one should have to deal with the roughness of my end-of-life time. So, please keep writing those blogs … we old ones … those of us who are still tottering around on this woeful planet … need your cheer!
Maybe I’ll beat you to that “wherever” place? If so, let’s have a nice chit-chat when you arrive. However, it’s been so long since I’ve heard from you … maybe you are already there?  (And wrote your blog ahead of time?)  
Because he doesn’t want to say the words “goodbye”, my son came up with this goodbye line for whenever he visits and leaves to go home … so I’ll use it here ….  
See you next time! … Love, Bonnie  ♥
And, ha ha, if you answer this, I’ll probably still be here ... unfortunately … and you’ll get a reply if I am!

October 29, 2022

Ken replies:

Oh, gosh, Bonnie — what dreadful news!

Actually, before hearing from you, I had been planning to write to you, not just to find out how you were doing, but also to ask you for your advice since I’ve been having increased difficulty in walking and exercising lately. My legs feel like dead weight now. But when I read your lachrymose letter, I forgot all about my own problems.

Your situation and physical state sound so wretched, I want to weep. Nobody should have to bear this kind of torture. Old age is not just cruel; it is an obscenity.

At least you’re now under hospice care, and that's clearly is helping you some, but only death will cure you. Maybe you could ask one of your hospice volunteers if they could score some Fentanyl for you or something else to take you out. Or jack up your morphine. Otherwise, you just have to pray that your Mammy will come to your aid soon. If you begin to see her or other deceased relatives, it will be a sign that they are waiting to welcome you home. I pray that it will be soon. Your letter was almost unbearable to read, but it is obviously incalculably worse to be experiencing all the hardships with your body that have no cure but surcease.

At least you are blessed to have Brenda there, but I know this must be hard on her, too, and I know how much you didn’t want to leave her before the pandemic subsided. But you are subsiding first and you need to go. I will pray for your release, Bonnie. I wish I had some connections with the boys upstairs, but I will do what I can to help you get home before too much more time passes.

Once you do, I will probably be along before too much more time passes. Save a seat for me.

In the meantime, Bonnie, which I hope won’t be long, do you want to stay in touch, even briefly? If so, I will hold your hand, at least virtually, until you go. I will always reply as soon as I can, so please write when you can, if it helps you in any way. For now, you have all my love, dear Bonnie, and my prayers that you will soon be spared further suffering. A much better, brighter and loving world awaits you.  

Love and courage

October 30, 2022


Thank you for your lovely compassionate letter … it brightened my spirit, such as it is. And, yes, am still here. You’re absolutely right … old age is an obscenity.

First, as to your question about your legs feeling like dead weight now, I regret to have to tell you that this is normal for spinal stenosis. The spinal nerves get all tangled up in old age (!) and the legs are affected. In my case, it got worse almost overnight. Hopefully, yours will follow the normal progression of most cases … slow progression with the possibility of slowing it down with physical therapy. 

But it’s too late for me. You do have some choices, though, and perhaps you need to decide if you’re going to try options … which could be painful … or say “to heck with it” and just let it do what it must. For me, I decided that I’d let it progress because I’d already had too many failed surgeries and other treatments including some of the newer alternative things.

Was hoping that I’d die before it got too bad … and so here I am. Didn’t die. And it’s bad.

It may not turn this bad for you, Ken, because you don’t have the genetic conditions that I have and that are just piling on, making it worse. 

Sadly, the hospice folks and/or Brenda would get in major trouble if they over-dosed me. We do have the morphine here, and Brenda keeps records when she gives it to me. Am sure it’s not worth jail-time to put me out of misery. We’re much kinder to our beloved pets, aren’t we?

I’ve not “seen” Mammy or anyone that could help me, and, believe me, I’M LOOKING. My massage therapist, who is also a death doula, has been visiting me … just for talk and comfort, and that has been a good thing … although I get very tired. Am exhausted most of the time … just walking to my room wears me out. 

To answer your query, yes, please, let’s keep in touch and please hold my virtual hand … and so much gratitude for doing what you can to get me outta here!

(Will save you a seat!)

October 30, 2022


Dear Bonnie,

Before turning to you, I am sorry to tell you that I’ve had just a wretched day myself. Not so much with my spinal stenosis, but for days I’ve had bad shits and today was even worse with diarrhea, too. I’ve had this problem, on and off, for about two months, and it is really wearying and worrisome. I will have to try to get some medical help with it ASAP. So I’m not at my best tonight, alas, but still much better off than you are, dear Bonnie.

I know that Brenda can’t really give you enough morphine to take you out without risking her own situation. I just wish the hospice people could do it. In some of the blogs I’ve written about the Right to Die Movement, I’ve read of a t-shirt that says, “I want to die like a dog.” Indeed, we treat our pets compassionately with there’s no hope for them and when they are only suffering. Why we don’t do this for human beings is a disgrace and is itself an obscenity. I just hate the thought of your having to drag yourself through your days waiting for the days to end. I just hope that you don’t have many more days to wait, dear Bonnie.

Thanks for trying help me with my spinal stenosis, but PT hasn’t helped me. Today, despite how lousy I felt, I was able, with difficulty, to walk partway down my block and back, but then could do 20 minutes on my bike, which surprised me. But I haven’t been able to do that every day. Some days, I just can’t do squat. I also find that I run out of breath doing routing household chores.

But I don’t want to wimpier about my own situation when yours is so desperate. Where is your Mamma when you need her? I hope she’s waiting in the wings for her cue.

But mindful of your request, I banged out a blog this morning before I started to feel too bad. I expect it will be posted later this week, perhaps on Thursday. I actually hope you won’t still be here to read it.

Don’t worry about me, Bonnie. Even when I am having my own troubles, I’ll still be here to hold your hand, virtually, and otherwise keep you company until you are released from your body’s bondage. I will continue to pray for you, too.

November 1, 2022


Dear Ken --- I do hope that you’re feeling better by today? The ****** are not fun, and take the zip out of life, such as it is. (Morphine can mess you up, too, but the opposite.) That T-shirt you told me about is great … I totally agree! 

This is a quick note (maybe) because I think I’m just going to crawl back into bed in a little bit. Not breathing properly makes me feel so weak and there’s a “I don’t know what to do with myself” kind of thing. 

Have read most of the disgusting news on my computer just now. Have stopped watching TV because it’s so difficult to get this numb body into my recliner, or in any other chair or couch. Haven’t even watched the last episode of “Good Fight” or the late night guys lately, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore, although I could watch on my desktop.

And what use is it to read what passes for news these days? I guess I still have a need to know what’s going on in the world, even though it only makes me sad. 

What makes me even sadder is that Brenda and I have a habit of watching TV together after supper, and now she’s in the den by herself and I’m in what we call the computer room, by myself. I know she’ll have to get used to it sooner or later. But …..

So bed will be my option for today, right now. That’s about the only decision I can deal with at present! Just had a half dose of morphine. It would be nice if I don’t wake up …. 

I hope that something can be done medically for you, Ken, so that you can somewhat enjoy your life and continue to write for us all. Looking forward to your blog on Thursday if I’m still around. Am definitely impressed that you can still do some great pedaling on your exercise bike at times!

Thank you for being with me through this … it means a lot to me, and I know that you understand totally, at depth. --- Love, Bonnie   ♥

November 1, 2022


Dear Bonnie,

I stopped what I was doing — reading a book manuscript online (which I hate to do) by an old friend with whom I recently reconnected. It’s about a swami my friend met and studied with during the 1970s who used music as a tool to engender enlightenment. I’ve only read the first few chapters, but it’s no problem to lay it aside for you, dear friend.

Yes, we live in dark times these days. Even the swami commented that this is the time in the Yoga tradition known as the Kali Yuga — basically, the spiritual pits, an age of endarkenment. You’ll be leaving it all behind soon. Where you’ll be going there is no darkness. I remember an NDEr telling me that — “There was no night there,“ he said.

But I can see that you are bored and dismayed at the state of the world, and feel even worse about the state of your body. Nothing to do but wait, just marking time until you leave time and enter eternity. Meanwhile, at least there’s morphine to get you through the day. I hope you can rest soon and find some measure of at least temporary oblivion.  

It’s sad, though, to read that you and Brenda can no longer watch TV together, and that you find yourself isolated more than you would like. I wonder if she could read to you, however, just to do something together and have something to distract you.

As for me, I didn’t have a great night’s sleep last night, but at least it was better than the previous night. I’m still waiting to shit. I did have to see my dermatologist this morning and got the full freeze-dry treatment of my face. Not the most fun I’ve ever had. But, all in all, it’s been about as good a day as I have had lately. I’m grateful.

Maybe you’re sleeping now. Why don’t you write me tomorrow, if you feel up to it. There’s an old Beatles’ song that I’m sure you know that begins, “I want to hold your hand….” I want to hold your hand, Bonnie, and not let it go until you’re free. I love you.

November 4, 2022


Dear Ken --- Yes, still here, regrettably … thanks for checkin’ on me. This will be short … am wearing a rubber glove on my hand in order to type without drowning the keyboard, so there may be some typos floating around. Explanation --- my massage therapist came here this afternoon … she is also a death doula and has been visiting me lately … because, well, you know … that death thing that is on the horizon.  

Today she massaged my swollen, lymphatic legs … very lightly, legs only. After she left, I started dripping lymph from all over!! Like turning on a hose. It drips from my fingertips and my legs, arms … everywhere. My son’s wife who is an NP … told us that’s sometimes a sign of the body shutting down. Rejoice, Ken! Maybe I’m going to beat you “There!”

What’s going on with you … hope you had a good day, sat in the sunshine (if there was sun there) and enjoyed a good book or music? Yes, we can definitely compare our many woes, can’t we? I might have you beat on the lymph dripping though!  ☺

Heading for shower now … so as to mix water with lymph fluid, I guess. And hope it stops before time to get in bed. I may have to sleep somehow without my bed. ☺

November 5, 2022


OMG, all that lymph fluid! You’re leaking, gal, but, as you say, maybe despite the mess and discomfort, it may signify that you are starting to head toward the exit, which I know at this point would be a relief. But how are you doing and feeling today, Bonnie? You’re welcome to send me an update later if you have time or tomorrow.   

Since my focus is on you, I don’t want to natter too much about my own troubles, which of course pale into utter insignificance compared to what you’re dealing with. Let it suffice just to say I’m tired today and still have my messy shits to deal with. Small beer in the scheme of things when you are having so much to cope with. I’m just so sorry that you never seem to have any relief from the woes of your body, Bonnie.

For now, I just hope that you’ve been able to stem the lymphatic fluid flow and aren’t in too much discomfort today. Anyway, please give me an update when you feel up to it. All my love to you, dear Bonnie.

November 6, 2022


Dear Ken … yes, maybe starting toward the end … very uncomfortable … heading back to bed now …. Even though my son is on the way here …. He'll just have to wake me up. This is probably not goodbye, Ken, see ya tomorrow … you get a good sleep and feel better! Love always and deep appreciation. Love, Bonnie. Hold my hand.   ♥♥♥

November 7, 2022


Are you still hanging on, Bonnie? Thinking of you, still holding your hand. Love, Ken
November 9, 2022

Brenda writes:

Dear Ken,

This is Brenda, Bonnie’s daughter. Bonnie peacefully crossed over from her earthly dimension yesterday around 5:00 pm. She enjoyed your friendship, correspondence, and support very much. I want to tell you that I found your messages to mom very touching ... that you were holding her hand. I know she felt that even though it was long distance. May your end journey be as smooth as possible and just know that mom will be holding your hand from the other side. I am sure you and mom will connect on the other side someday!

November 3, 2022

My French Connection


Thomas Jefferson, never one of my favorite Founding Fathers, but that’s another story, did say something that I’ve long found to be true. “Every man,” Jefferson declared, “has two countries – his own and France.” At least that’s been true for me, and in this blog I will tell you why. In doing so, I will reveal a fundamental part of my character that I think you will surprise you.

My first inkling that I might have a special connection to France came in an unexpected way. In the early 1970s, when I was still a young professor at the University of Connecticut, I happened to attend a gathering which featured a talk by “a reincarnation researcher and author” whose name was Noel Street. We were all sitting around on the floor of the room where he was speaking and during his talk, he looked directly at me and said, as I recall. “You. You had a past life in France during the 19th century when you were a lawyer and involved in penal reform.”  

Well, what to make of that? I hardly knew, and I didn’t necessarily believe it. But obviously, I never forgot that incident.

At the time, I had never even been to Europe. I didn’t travel there until I was nearly 50 and found myself in France. I loved being in Europe - why had I waited so long? – and for the next twenty years or so, I spent a lot of time in Europe, often in connection with my work on NDEs. The odd thing is, I felt more “myself” in Europe than in America, as if that was my real home. And the more time I spent there, particularly in France, the more I felt that was where I belonged. But not in the France of the twentieth century. No, I had been displaced in time. The France I identified with was actually the France of the 19th century.  

But my identification was more specific than that. It was with the artists of that century, as I later tried to explain to a friend of mine named Gloria. However, I have to preface this with an aside about my very first girlfriend Carolyn to whom I had to refer in my letter to Gloria and will have occasion to mention again. All you need to know now is that Carolyn and I had broken up in college because she found my then “bohemian ways” insufferable. In the passage to follow, however, which actually comes from one of my memoirs, I give some necessary background before I come to what I had written to Gloria about my identification with French artists of the 19th century:

Because of my strong identification with artists from the Romantic period and my draw to the nineteenth century generally, I now found myself drifting back to that period again in order to try to “explain myself” and the particular trajectory of my life — which seemed so strange as to be “bizarre” to Carolyn whose values were admittedly much more “bourgeois” and who had, unlike me, experienced only a single and deeply satisfying marriage of forty-five years duration and counting. 

Thus it was that I returned to reading many books dealing with sex, love and romance in the nineteenth century. And not surprisingly, I again found myself focusing on the lives of some of my favorite French characters, as I continued to read books about various French artists, the courtesans of the Second Empire with whom they consorted, and the general cultural climate during that epoch. And not only reading about them.  I wrote about them, too, including a little book about my favorite French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns.  In the course of my reading, however, I came to become fascinated with the character of the poet, Charles Baudelaire, whom of course I had read about previously but whose life and poetry had never previously evoked my interest. Suddenly, I was hot to read about him.

By this time, I had met a very cultured academic and writer of Korean ancestry named Gloria, who worked at the University of California at Berkeley, my old alma mater. 

One day I happened to mention to her in an email that I was planning to make a study of Baudelaire. She was surprised. “Why Baudelaire?” she asked. Since at this stage, Gloria knew very little about my life, I decided I had better inform her about what was really central to me at that time. What I wrote to Gloria will well serve to sum up the essence of the not always conscious thrust of my life during those years that ultimately stems from the influence of my father who was an artist himself of bohemian leanings. At any rate, this is what I replied to her question. 

Don’t think I am attracted to Baudelaire because I like him; I don’t. (I often am led to read or write about persons I don’t particularly care for, but who interest me for other reasons.) It’s just that Baudelaire is “one of my people.” You see, I belong in nineteenth-century France; that’s where I come from and where I wish I could be. I belong with the outcasts, the disreputables, of that time — the artists, the poets, the musicians, the courtesans of the demimonde, the salonnières, etc. People like Berlioz and Henri Litolff, Turgenev and Pauline Viardot, Madame de Staël and Benjamin Constant, Sand and Musset, Théo Gautier and Gérald de Nerval, the Goncourt Brothers, the Dumas boys, Flaubert and Colet, Manet and Degas, and dozens of others from that time are a part of my family. I mostly find these people objectionable or ludicrous, but, still, I am fond of them and in some ways I am very like them. I don’t mean in talent, of course, but in disposition and in my love of the arts. Had I lived then I probably would have been something like a minor poet and part of the salon scene. I immerse myself in that world now in order to reclaim some long-detached part of me that never had a chance to develop in this life. 

There’s much more to it than that — and some of it has to do with my father who died young (at 41), and whom I scarcely knew but whom I think I resemble in many ways — but that’s probably enough to give you some basic orientation. 

So what was it that drew me to Baudelaire in particular? To understand my deep interest in his character, I’m afraid you will have to indulge me when I give you a brief account of his life. At the very least, if you don’t know much about this great poet, you will learn something about him – and eventually some surprising things about me.

Baudelaire and Me

Early in my recent correspondence with Carolyn, she told me about the reasons we had broken up. As I mentioned, they had largely to do with the fact that within a short time after becoming a college student at Cal-Berkeley, I had changed from a conventionally-minded, clean-cut teenager into someone who, in her eyes, had become a dissolute lout. She could neither understand nor countenance this drastic alteration in my personality and behavior, and given its persistence and my intractability, she soon dismissed me from her life. For my part, though I felt her loss keenly, I had no intention of trying to rectify my behavior for her sake or anyone else’s. To me, I was just behaving in a way that had quickly come to seem natural to me. I had already learned to identify with the radical fringe and alienated youths like myself. 

The question is why. 

You might think that I have already provided the answer. That is, you might simply assume, as I had in later years, that I had even then begun, however unconsciously, to embody and express the more artistic side of my nature and was drawn to outsiders like myself in what was an unknowing imitation of my father’s own proclivities. But as I was to discover, this could not possibly be the entire answer. This shift in my character didn’t just have to do with my father’s personality and lifestyle. Instead it had everything to do with an incomparably greater artist: Charles Baudelaire. 

Since Baudelaire’s life and work are so well known, I need only summarize some of the most basic facts about him. Born in 1821 in Paris, he was to become the most celebrated poet of his age and forever influence the course of French poetry. Regarded as the first true poet of modernity, Baudelaire was drawn to the seamy side of life. He lived with an uneducated prostitute for many years, and regularly consorted with the denizens of the underclass. Although born into well-to-do circumstances, he lived most in his life in wretched squalor and penury and died at 46 after years of misery and intense suffering from syphilis, which he had contracted at an early age. 

He is best known for his seminal book of poetry, Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil), which posterity would come to honor as the most important volume of French poetry to be written in the nineteenth century. But he was also celebrated as an art critic and a translator. It was Baudelaire, for example, who first translated many of the works of Poe into French and was responsible for creating the virtual cult of interest that the French were to have about this American author. He was also the friend and partisan of many of his era’s great artistic geniuses, such as Delacroix, Manet and Wagner. Overall, his work in the field of literature, as poet, critic and translator, during his brief and tormented lifetime was of incomparable value and significance. 

But, for us, it is not Baudelaire’s work that is of primary relevance here. Instead, we need to examine Baudelaire’s particular family constellation. 

Baudelaire’s father, Joseph-François, was 61 when his son was born. Earlier in his life he had been a priest and a tutor to the children of an aristocratic family into whose lives he became deeply enmeshed. He was well educated, had beautiful manners, and had come to know a number of the leading intellectual figures of his day, such as the philosopher, Helvétius, and the philosopher and politician, Condorcet

Baudelaire’s father was also very interested in art, had a taste for and a modest talent at painting, and had artistic ambitions. When he was a student at the Sorbonne, he had also sought out the company of artists, and even after he retired he devoted much of his time to sketching and painting. 

Joseph-François took an active and loving interest in educating his son to whom he was very close. This is how one of Baudelaire’s biographers, Joanna Richardson, describes it: 

He had taught his son about art, as they admired the prints and pastels in the rue Hautefeuille, the statues in the Jardin du Luxembourg. He had no doubt taught him history ... He roused in his interest in music ... and taught his son the rudiments of Latin ... Joseph-François had himself written numerous pieces of verse ... It was from him that Baudelaire inherited his love of literature and art, his patrician manners, his style and sensuality; father and son had a natural affinity that went beyond ties of blood. It was an irreplaceable relationship. 

Unfortunately, it was not to last long. Joseph-François died shortly before Baudelaire turned six. It was a crushing loss to the boy. Afterward, he always carried a portrait of his father wherever his nomadic life took him. He was devoted to his memory. 

Baudelaire’s mother, Caroline, was his father’s second wife, and she was much younger than he. Well-educated and intelligent, she had grown up as the ward of a very privileged family, the father of whom had long been good friends with Baudelaire’s father. After his first wife had died, Joseph-François elected to marry Caroline. Caroline’s early upbringing, including the death of both of her parents by the time she was seven, resulted in her always suffering from poor health. In addition, she was a nervous woman, somewhat melancholy in disposition. Hypersensitive, too, she was given to emotional outbursts. In many ways, we can see in her the seeds of her son’s morbid personality structure. 

Although Joseph-François had been kind to his wife during their few years together, it is obvious that she had never loved him. She didn’t even see to it that he was properly buried, and his gravesite has never been located. The only person she had ever truly loved and doted upon was her son, and now he was hers entirely. From all accounts, it was especially after his father’s death that Caroline sought to bind Charles even more deeply to her, and for the rest of their lives they had a very powerful and complex love-hate relationship. 

However, the time of their exclusive mutual intimacy was to be short-lived. Not long after her husband’s death, Caroline became involved with an up-and-coming soldier, got pregnant by him, and finally induced the soldier, one Jacques Aupick, to marry her. She was then 34, he, 38 and in his prime. Aupick would go on to have a very distinguished military career. For much of it, he was a general, and for that reason he is often referred to as General Aupick. Later in life, he became a diplomat, first serving as an envoy and minister to Constantinople and, after declining an offer to be ambassador to the London court, settling instead for the equivalent post in Madrid. During the course of their happy thirty-year marriage, Caroline became very submissive to her husband. He ruled; she obeyed. He was a soldier, after all, and a prominent one. One of his orders was that he didn’t want any children to hamper his life. Charles was farmed out, sent to boarding schools, dismissed. He never recovered from this abandonment. Within a year, he had lost both his father and his mother, and he had gained an enemy for life, someone he would actually later try to strangle and to whose existence he never became reconciled. He could never forgive his mother for what she had done. 

Still, at the outset and well before their vicious and lifelong rupture, Aupick tried to befriend his stepson. He truly wanted to help him. However, he was incapable of seeing and appreciating who Baudelaire was, much less of nurturing the talents that would later turn his stepson into the greatest poet of his age. Again, Richardson is very good at summarizing the essential problem in their relationship that was to cause such terrible damage to Baudelaire and to alienate him forever from his stepfather: 

The problem was that Aupick was guided by the military virtues of honor and duty, by piety and patriotism, by a bourgeois belief in regular hard work, in the value of paternal authority. Had Baudelaire chosen to enter a profession, Aupick was prepared to use all his influence to help him; but the single-minded officer from Saint-Cyr could not understand the artistic temperament. He could not comprehend a boy who showed small regard for discipline, and an early devotion to literature and painting. Baudelaire was patently the son of Joseph-François. Aupick could never give him what Joseph-François would have given him. Aupick’s rigid code of behavior, his lack of sensibility, were to bring much grief in his childhood. In his early manhood, they were to cause an irreparable breach between them.

So how did Baudelaire respond to all this in his “early manhood?” He became a rebel, of course. He chose to disidentify completely with the values of his stepfather, and in fact to defy them, to mock them. Instead, he affiliated himself with society’s renegades, with its outcasts, with its artists and poets, and turned his back forever away from bourgeois values. He thus became everything that was alien to his alien stepfather. 

That is the Baudelaire portion of this blog. Now, let’s come to me and consider the parallels. 

1. My father, like Baudelaire’s, was an artist.

2. I was very close to my father to begin with also.

3. My father left my family and me at almost the exact same age, around six, at which time Baudelaire’s father had died.

4. My mother never mourned my father’s departure; she had never loved him either.

5. She was, like Caroline, a hypersensitive and nervous woman.

6. She, too, forged a close and very intimate bond between us after my father had left.

7. Like Caroline, however, as soon as she could, she made a precipitate marriage to afford her security and protection.

8. Like Caroline, too, she married a military man used to barking orders and having them obeyed.

9. Just as Caroline had done, my mother became very submissive to my stepfather, who quickly came to dominate our lives, and she remained under his control until his death.

10. I, too, resented my stepfather, and found him entirely alien to me.

Is it any wonder that I rebelled, too, in just the way I did? 

There is seemingly a fundamental archetype involved here, having to do with initial closeness to an artistic father, an emotional but submissive mother, an artistically-inclined son, and an over-bearing and dictatorial military stepfather. All this conduces to a response on the son’s part of rebellion, disidentification and an overly strong affiliation with the anti-bourgeois elements of society. 

No wonder, then, when I suddenly found myself for the first time with models of identification for my alienation, I quickly bonded to and started to conform to the youths of my generation who represented my father’s artistic and iconoclastic bohemian values. 

Now, it need hardly be said that in pointing out these parallels, I scarcely mean to be comparing myself to Baudelaire. After all, while both my personal and professional life might well be characterized as unconventional — some might even describe them as wayward — I have only an average and not very original mind and some modest talents; Baudelaire was a genius. It’s obvious that I don’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Baudelaire, so don’t think I am putting on airs. And of course there are many, many differences between Baudelaire’s life and mine. Cela va sans dire! 

But what we have in common are some crucial features in our family constellation so that in that respect at least, we were led to follow a somewhat similar path of psychological development, our very different levels of intelligence notwithstanding. 

In any event, it was only by reading about Baudelaire’s family history that I was finally able to understand some features of my own development, the very ones that had appalled and puzzled Carolyn when I first began to manifest them. Now she will know why it was almost ordained that I followed the path I did in life, and so do I. 

I had a good friend for some years -- she was one of my graduate students, but about the same age as me -- and we connected in later years when she moved to the Southwest. She told me then that she had always seen the artistic side of my character and was surprised that I had seemingly suppressed it in order to become a psychologist. In the end, it seems, I could only identify with artists but never become one. That is the great sorrow of my life.