Nestled in the back of Aura Ceramics is John Govan's desk. He has taught classes there for 35 years.
The building hums with positive energy as staff clean ceramic casts, readying them for painting and glazing. John is the idea man, inspiring students to use various techniques that bring each piece to life.
Little did anyone imagine that John would need to be brought back to life as well. One afternoon, he collapsed at his desk.
He has no recollection of that day or the night before. "I don't remember going to bed, getting up or coming to work," John says. But he has a clear picture of what happened next.
"I remember standing next to my body," he says. "I watched the medics come in and cut off my favorite shirt. I heard them say I was dead."
John says it was very easy to die. He felt no pain.
When the medics grabbed the paddles to shock his heart, John remembers thinking, "You're crazy to think you'll bring me back. I'm out of here. It's time to go home."
Suddenly John was standing in a field of gold flowers. He walked toward a meadow where he saw a white picket fence standing about a foot tall. On the other side of the fence were his friends and family.
"I saw my mom, Aunt Peggy, my sister and brother, my grandfather and more," John says. "There was nothing to fear. I felt overpowered by love."
Soon an emerald light appeared in the sky, and a voice said that he had to make a choice.
Immediately John was in a bed in a beautiful building with large reflecting pool outside. He sat there and contemplated his choice.
When John finally decided that he had more to teach and more to learn, he woke up in an Easton Hospital bed.
He turned to his friend Larry Keiper and asked, "What hotel is this and where has the reflecting pool gone?"
During John's out-of-body and near-death experience, he missed all that happened to save him.
He had no recollection of being revived by the EMTs and transported to Easton Hospital where he remained on life-support for 12 hours.
He had no recollection of going to the catheterization lab where they found no blocked arteries.
He had no recollection of cardiologist Dan Mascarenhas, MD, an independent member of the medical staff, implanting a defibrillator that would shock his heart if it ever stopped again.
He had no recollection of spending a night in the ICU.
"When I returned, I felt like I woke from the best sleep I had ever had," John says.
John is no stranger to Easton Hospital. Cardiothoracic surgeon Richard Angelico, MD, a member of the medical staff, performed open heart surgery on John three years ago, repairing 12 blocked arteries.
"I trust my life to Easton Hospital," John says. "And I didn't always feel that way." John lost family members to heart disease. "It's easy to blame an institution instead of the people you love."
But John is confident in the staff and physicians. "I got excellent care there," he says. "It's like being at home. I wouldn't go anywhere else."
But he did go somewhere for a brief period on that fateful day. "I've always believed there is a tomorrow beyond this world," John says. "Now I am ready for the next great experience."
He has a bucket list yet to accomplish. While nothing has been checked off yet, his main goal is to see the world through eyes of gratitude. "I believe that life is a school where we must learn to be kind and generous," he says.
One act of kindness was meeting with the EMT crew that saved his life. Easton Hospital held a ceremony at Easton Ambulance where John met and thanked the crew and the hospital staff.
"It was wonderful to thank the people who can often go unappreciated," John says. He sees them and most other folks as family.
"I have a lot of relatives," John says. It's what makes Aura Ceramics feel so comfortable. "This is a place where people can knock down barriers, open up and see what matters in this world," he says.
In this world and the next.
250 South 21st Street
Easton, PA 18042-3892