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ART OF THE MATTER by Stanley Young

When the raging storm hit the wooden 53-foot motor yacht that Donna Terody and her husband, Peter, were sailing from Palm Beach, Fla., to the Bahamas in July 1992, she was sure she was going to die. In fact, even before the bad weather moved in, that was her plan. Beset by excruciating kidney problems she had suffered since age 4, when her father began sexually molesting her, Terody, a successful painter and a former New York City art-gallery owner, had by age 30 become virtually bedridden. She was ready for her life to end, she recalls, and a few months of living aboard, she felt, was better than a few years in a hospital. "I felt I'd leave it in God's hands," she recalls. "Either I'll recover on my own, or I won't." For six hours, as the boat pitched about in the 10-foot swells, Terody was thrown around her cabin below decks. 

"It was hell," she says. Finally, strap-ping herself to a bed, she prayed: "God, just make it quick and painless."

That's when she felt a pull upward. "There was a brilliant white light," she says. "Entering it, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace and tranquility. Several angels emerged and floated to-ward me, filling me with their healing light." 

Suddenly she felt herself falling back toward her body. "I'm dead," she thought. But then a voice told her "You still have work to do. You have to go back." When Terody woke up, she was facing a gigantic angel. "I begged him, 'Please take me back,' " she says. He vanished but left Terody with a strange sensation-well-being. "The angels healed me," she says. "They sent me back to paint angels." 

Leaving her husband behind (her marriage had been bad for years, she says), Terody moved to Santa Monica, where she began creating ethereal pastel images, works that now fetch up to $10,000. Often, she says her art enables others to have their own angel encounters. Says Terody, 35: "People were being comforted." None so much as her boyfriend, software developer Rama Arya, 33. 

In 1995 the couple were strolling on Venice Beach when Arya was felled by a stray bullet to his upper back. Sensing he was gravely injured, Terody put one hand on his heart, the other on his wound. "I had 100 percent faith," she says, "that when I took my hand off, there was going to be no more bleeding." And there wasn't. Called Miracle Boy at UCLA Medical Center, where he was taken, Arya was fully recovered when he left the hospital the next day. "It really was a miracle," says Terody, who lives with Arya in a Malibu ranch-style house. "That incident showed me that all my pain and suffering was worth it."

Reporter Stanley Young - "People December 22, 1997"

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