Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic spine surgeon who describes herself as a "concrete thinker" who isn't "fanciful" and doesn't exaggerate, spent a long time trying to explain a seemingly inexplicable event that unfolded back in 1999 following a near-death experience.
After almost drowning during a kayaking accident while on a trip to Chile — and supposedly going without oxygen for 24 minutes — Neal remarkably survived without sustaining any brain damage.
And as if that weren't miraculous enough, she claims that she visited heaven, interacted with spirits and was warned about her son's death 10 years before it happened — an experience that left her confused and in awe.
When Neal recovered from her traumatic accident, she said that she found herself on a journey seeking answers, wondering whether she had imagined the entire heavenly ordeal.
"I really needed to figure out what I had experienced. I have gone through the process of coming up with alternative explanations," the doctor told OWN TV's "In Deep Shift," noting that she considered the possibility of dreams and hallucinations. "We always want to find an explanation that we can understand other than something that is divine. I am a very concrete thinker. I'm not fanciful. I don't exaggerate."
After all that exploration, though, Neal claims that she believes what happened to her "was beyond science," describing what she purportedly saw in heaven.
"I mean the beauty was incredibly intense," she said. "There's no other earthly equivalent."
She recalled entering a "domed structure" and being greeted by spirits who were "overjoyed" by her arrival — and she described these entities as being physical beings that had a notable and visible formation.
"They had physical form. They had heads, arms, legs and were wearing sort of robes," she said, according to the Huffington Post. "I knew they were there to love me and guide me and protect me."
Neal recalls not wanting to leave heaven, but the spirits told her that it was not her time and subsequently reunited her with her body, she claims — but not before telling her something that would haunt her memory for years to come.
In addition to asking Neal to share her story with others, she claims that the spirits said her oldest son would die at some point in the future.
"They didn't tell me the date or the time, but it was very clear that would be happening," she said. "I woke up every day hoping the plan for my son's life would change."
"I don’t pretend to have all the answers. One of my kids would say I was kicked out of heaven. My primary mandate was not being here for my son’s death," she told "Today" back in 2012. "My primary mandate was to return and share my story because my story is comforting and reassuring and inspires other people to really look at their own lives and find God working in their own lives."
Listen to Neal describe her story below:
(H/T: Huffington Post)
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