‘I Died At 26’ – Excerpt from Chapter One

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I died and no one knew about it for a very long time.

My death was no spectacular event. It was slow and almost painless. It did not make the papers; no one heard about it and no one far or near saw it happen. As a matter of fact, no one thought a person like me, on the path I was, with the strength I possessed and the determination with which I pursued my purpose could die. Yet I did; and for a long time it was my best kept ‘open secret’. I could not blame anyone for being oblivious to my death. It was not exactly made of crime investigation TV material. There was no bloodshed, no warning signs and certainly no suspects. It was a simple case of surprise and surrender. Death surprised me and I surrendered. Even if I had been given time to prepare for its visit, I doubt I would have been able to withstand its force against me.

Before my death, my life was on the right path. It was a shining beacon of inspiration to many. I was touching lives, making a difference and feeling purposeful every time I opened my eyes. It seemed as if all the elements of the universe had converged to give me what I needed and I was falling in love with the path that lay before me. But in what seemed like a swift moment, everything changed, and for a long time I had to pretend they were still the same. I had to pretend I still had everything together, act like everyone expected me to, laugh like I used to, talk like I used to and walk like I used to. Every time someone who knew me before everything changed spoke to me, I had the textbook “God is good” response at the tip of my tongue. But deep inside, I was unsure of myself. I was at a place in my life where the questions I had for God were more than the praises that crossed my thoughts. I licked my wounds in secret and subscribed fully to the association of the walking dead to keep my pretence alive. I succumbed to death and no one could tell.

Is this perchance an apt description of how you once felt or are currently feeling? Perhaps you are slipping into the cold hands of death as you read this – walking, talking laughing and working… yet, slipping away slowly just like I was. Everyone thinks you are alive, but you know that the heartbeat you feel is not yours; the life you live is not yours, even the feelings you have are not yours. Every time you close your eyes, you are plagued by visions of another life – making waves and breaking grounds; but the moment you open your eyes, everything feels dead and hopeless. Perhaps you once had plans for the life you now see in those visions. You had all the right strategies in place and you were going for gold before you tripped and fell into a dark abyss. Now you’re struggling to stay alive. You walk and talk like you used to before you fell, and everyone thinks your life is going great still. But only you know, in the deepest crevices of your mind that you are dying and your attempts to fight death have been abysmally futile.

I know how it feels to lose against the cold scrawny hands of this death. I also tried to fight it and quickly discovered that I was expending my energy on a battle I was not equipped to win. I walked, talked, laughed and even worked with the efficiency of a flawlessly-assembled robot. Only I knew that my core was missing. Everyone else saw me as a complete package. Some of them even aspired to be like me! If only they knew that I was feeling like the essence of my existence had been yanked away from me and without it I had become soul-less. If only they knew how hard I cried to have it back, how long I prayed endlessly for the restoration of what was and how much I struggled to fake it with the hope that things would still fall into place, they would not have wished to be me. If only they knew that the package they admired on the outside was full of emptiness and despair on the inside, they would have cast the nets of their admiration elsewhere. If only they knew that the woman they perceived as strong, focused and a role model was at death’s door… if only, if only… but the truth is they didn’t, and I died.

I fooled a lot of people easily because as a fairly good orator, I knew all the right things to say and when to say them. Few people saw my tears as my soul was pierced but even they could not understand them. I reached out for help but no one thought I needed it that badly. Who saves a strong person? Who saves the person who always helps and motivates everyone? The answer is no one. No one thought the weight was too much to carry or the pain too much to bear. “You are strong Demi, you will pull through this” they said. And so I had no choice than to surrender to death. If no one was going to help lift the burden, I decided to die beneath its weight.

This book is a true story, my true story. It is about how I went from life to death and back to life in twelve months. It is about how I learned that God is in the midst of every dying phase we go through and his intentions for us, even in the midst of death, are filled with love, grace and peace.

At first, I told myself it was not important to write this book. In this day and age, where there are so many people going through excruciating situations, I started to question if my story was enough to help you understand your own death and hopefully awaken you to a new life. Then I met with other people, listened to them open up about their lives and I realized that the end result of death is the same. It does not matter if a person dies peacefully in their sleep, from a car accident, a house fire, or a violent attack, the endpoint is death. In the same way, it does not matter if you are reading this book because your design for your life is falling apart, or because you feel God is not hearing your incessant cries, or you’ve lost your job and can’t break into the job market because of the robots, or because your spouse walked out the door and left you to grapple with the million and one pieces that are now the remains of your life, the fact is you are dying just like many others out there – dying for different reasons but dying all the same.

I hope that by reading my story and my thoughts about this death, you will awaken to life again. I hope you will transition safely from a place of death to real life where you exist in every space, connect with yourself and with God your creator to live an abundant life. This book is not just for those who believe in God, live Christ-centered lives and know all the right bible verses for every situation. This book is for you – the ‘I’ve-heard-about-God-but-don’t-really-know-him’ person; the ‘I-used-to-know-God-but-my-life-fell-apart-so-I-left-him’ person and the “I-don’t-read-Hallelujah-stuff” person. You are in luck; I am pretty certain I did not use the word “Hallelujah” that much so keep reading. This book is for every imperfect person out there, every confused person and certainly every functional dead person who is trudging slowly to 75 when they hope to be buried. This book is for everyone who desires to wake up from death, make it through life’s dark tunnels and awaken to life again. It has taken a lot of courage to write this and I hope reading about my experience wakes you up to a new abundant life where you are assured of God’s love, God’s grace and God’s beautiful plans for your life.

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