Heaven is for Real! Watching this beautiful and inspiring film, I can truly say that directors and producers of this film captured the vision of Heaven's portal so perfectly. Too perfectly, as it was the exact vision I saw in my father's shared near-death experience.
The screenplay from Todd Burpo's book, Heaven is for Real, about his son, Colton's near-death experience was so well written, the casting eerily perfect, if not spectacular and the computer-generated vision of the portal or opening to Heaven had to be from divine intervention. This movie confirmed to many of us both our reality and spirituality. As a true believer in Heaven and having my own near-death experiences and two shared near-death experiences, I watched excitedly, fully knowing that this movie was my "truth." Yet, as inspiring, enthralling and confirming this movie was, I still cannot explain the experience and reaction I felt as the movie was nearing the end.
A strange and confusing reaction occurred to me as I watched this glorious film. Nearing the end of the movie, Colton sees the "portal" or opening to Heaven. Seeing this, I gasped so deeply and loudly that I held my hand over my mouth. My heart physically hurt, I began to feel shaking throughout my body and tears of joy and confirmation began to run down my face. The image of the portal to Heaven was an all too real duplication of what I witnessed 20 years earlier in my Dad's crossing over. How could they possibly capture what I witnessed at my father's death, Still shaken, I tried to hide my tears from ones entering to see the movie.
First, I must explain my shared nearing-death experience, witnessing my Dad's final evening on this earthly plane.
All six of his kids (I was the oldest) stayed with Daddy that day, as did my precious stepmother, Margaret. Evening was turning to night and most had to leave. My middle sister, Mimi, my husband Larry and I were the last to leave. We knew this might be his last few days. I brought music to play softly for him. He loved "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole and especially the song, "You Are My Special Angel"by The Vogues from long ago. It brought back memories of his youth, when he and my mother were so happy and in love. Later, the marriage would take a turn for the worse. At sixteen years old, I knew it was for the best. After my marriage at 19, my father fell in love and married my stepmother, Margaret, who I still adore today. My mother passed in June of last year about 4 a.m. in her nursing home room the day before my youngest sister and I were to visit her. My final visit with her is a story for another day.
The afternoon of Daddy's passing, he began to focus intently on something near the ceiling and the wall. He was not able to explain what he was seeing. He could not speak from the surgery and raging cancer that would soon take him. His eyes stared intently at the sight he was seeing. He smiled at what he was apparently seeing. My youngest sister, Julie, thought it was the nurses’ papers on the wall scaring him. She began to rip the papers down. Having my own NDEs, I knew what Daddy was seeing.
Everyone seemed completely confused as to what was happening. He turned to me, eyes sparkling as never before and smiling like a surprised young child who just made the All-Star team. As I stood by his bedside holding his hand, he mouthed the words, "God wants ME!" I bent down even further and kissed him on the forehead. We both shared "knowing” confirmations and smiles. Whispering to him, I assured him that we would be ok and that if he must leave this earthly plane, we would miss him greatly, but we would always love him and would be fine in our lives. I would make sure, being the big sister.
He smiled so sweetly and looked into my eyes so deeply, recognizing and assured that I knew what he was seeing, confirming what awaited us on the "other" side. In Colton's visit to the terminally-ill young girl in the hospital - the same knowing look was identical in my father's eyes and weak smile. That same late evening, my middle sister, Mimi, was outside taking a break. My husband was reading in the next room of the apartment-like hospice facility. Daddy began to fall asleep. I again kissed him on the forehead, stroked his gray-black hair and began to cry silently.
I turned to leave Dad's dimly lit hospice room, looking back once more to see him sleeping so peacefully. I could have sworn that his soft features almost radiated with a glow. Turning again to leave, suddenly behind me, the most brilliant light filled the entire room as quickly as if a Mac truck would switch on its lights a few feet behind you! Instantly lit with brilliant, but almost mist-like blazing white light with the tiniest flecks of gold swirling around me in the room, I became aware of much more intensely lit golden-white rays behind me.
I turned so slowly, feeling the same intense emotions of calm, peace and unconditional love experienced in my own NDE at 17 years old. I already knew what I might see. It was not frightening, just surprisingly beautiful and spectacular. My father was rising a few feet from his bed within these even brighter rays of warm golden light. Daddy was not rising as one might imagine as a flat "body" rising vertically, but as if sitting comfortably in his favorite lounge chair at home. Of course, there was no lounge chair.
I could barely breathe, lest I disturb this majestic sight! Huge, almost eight feet tall outlines of two angels curved around the opening. I could only see the soft outline of their heads and wings in deeper gold glowing light. Both angels surrounded soft cloud-like opening and the brightest inner light. So bright was this inner center that it was as looking directly into the sun! My Dad was in the midst of rising on these soft golden rays, a few feet above his hospice bed. How enthralled, joyful and utterly amazed I was from this gift of witnessing God's glory.
What seemed like seconds later, I was "told" in a rather commanding but loving way, that this was all I could see and must leave now. Still frozen by this majestic sight, my feet seemed to move by a gentle power. As I was told, I turned toward the door with the light even brighter now behind me. Unlike Colton, wanting to share his journey in detail, as an adult, I couldn't find words to describe it without sounding crazy. It was such a private moment, that my husband learned of the experience days later. My brothers and sisters did not know until years later...I wished that I had told them earlier.
In Heaven is for Real, either Director and co-writer of the screenplay, Randall Wallace or producers like Joe Roth and Bishop T.D. Jakes, had the same vision in their own NDE and/or Colton described this scene in so much detail, that the film was able to capture that opening to a Heavenly realm exactly as I witnessed it. It took me hours after the movie to return to somewhat normal - whatever that is.
What was the physical and emotional reaction all about? Why tears so sad yet so happy at the same sight? Why feeling so drained yet strong? Perhaps, it was a complete reliving of the moment of a shared near-death experience with my father, through “Heaven is for Real.” The amazing visual effects within this film are not coincidental.
I highly recommend this spectacular movie to everyone. "Heaven is for Real" proved to me that this child, Colton, saw a true vision of Heaven so beautifully duplicated in this film. If you are a NDE survivor, you may find yourself flashing back to the day you had that near-death experience or shared near-death experience.
Just remember to bring the tissues.