What I Learned in the Liminal Space of Near-Death

Covid kicked my ass, then it saved my life.

Betty Ray
For Awe

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A surreal image of a young women melting into an ocean of flames.
Image credit: agsandrew (via Canva)

Four weeks ago, I started to feel the tell-tale signs — a little tickle in the back of the throat and diminished sense of taste and smell. I’d had Omicron last January when everyone else had it, but it was nothing more than a minor irritation. This year — fully vaxxed and boosted — I figured I’d be tired for maybe a day or two, and then back to normal.

Ha! Nope.

I’ve been in this body for 50-something years and have a pretty good awareness of its signals and protestations, but I have never felt anything like this. That night, the sore throat erupted into a brutal full-body combination of throbbing pain, nausea, and cold sweats.

As I tried to sleep, I couldn’t. I downed a bunch of Nyquil and waited for its magic to lull me into slumber. It didn’t. My fever skyrocketed and I became more agitated, tossing and turning and covered in sweat.

At about midnight, I started having what I can only describe now as physical hallucinations — a felt sensation of my body morphing through a sequence of different elemental states, melting and then spinning like an eddy at the bottom of a waterfall. Then the eddy folds in on itself, and I am rolled out like a giant piece of taffy which eventually morphs…

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Betty Ray
For Awe

Co-Founder, Pandora's Way, a digital rite of passage for young people (and their families!). Founder, Center for Ritual Design.