National Geographic : 2016 Apr
A head-on collision landed Tricia Barker, then a college student, in an Austin, Texas, hospital, bleeding profusely, her spine broken. She says she felt herself separate from her body during surgery, hovering near the ceiling as she watched her monitor flatline. Moving through the hospital corridor, she says, she saw her stepfather, struggling with grief, buy a candy bar from a vending machine; it was this detail, a stress-induced indulgence he’d told no one about, that made Barker believe her movements really happened. Now a creative writing professor, she says she’s still guided by the spirits that accompanied her on the other side.