Sen. Mark Kirk visited by ‘angels’ during his recovery

Rachel Rose Hartman

Ahead of Sen. Mark Kirk's return to Congress Thursday nearly one year after suffering a stroke that left him with significant physical challenges, the Illinois Republican reveals he saw angels during his recovery.

Kirk told Chicago's Daily Herald the details:

For Mark Kirk, there was no white light, no tunnel.

What Illinois' junior U.S. senator experienced was three angels standing at the foot of his bed.

"You want to come with us?" Kirk was asked.

"No," he told them. "I'll hold off."

Kirk chalked up the experience, which he says happened as he woke in a hospital bed in Northwestern Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit, to a dream, medication or a near-death experience.

Kirk suffered a massive ischemic stroke Jan. 21, 2011, underwent skull surgery, and has been out of Congress recovering and working in an intensive rehabilitation program, which has included relearning how to walk.

In a video about his recovery released last May, Kirk revealed his goal "to climb the 45 steps that my staff counted from the parking lot to the Senate front door to fight for the people of Illinois."

Kirk plans to make that journey Thursday.