Randy Aalbregtse – Classmate & Neighbor

His name was Randy.   He was and still is, despite his far-too early death, a beloved classmate.  He was positivity personified, and he always had a smile for everyone.

From second grade through sixth grade, he was my neighbor.

However, we never spoke during that time.  Not once that I recall.  My brother was the same age as his younger brother, Kevin.  There were probably a total of a dozen of us kids in the immediate neighborhood and I would play hide-and-go-seek, baseball, climb trees, and ride bikes with all of them, but Randy never played with us.  Instead, he was always alone with his basketball: dribbling, spinning, jumping and sinking, or tossing from afar.

He would play for hours at a time.  By himself.  Once in a while, in the evening, he and his father, John, would play one-on-one.  There was always a lot of laughter then and John, who was far taller, appeared to block a good number of throws.  But Randy would find ways to skirt around his father and sink the ball with a layup.

I could see Randy playing from my bedroom window, when I was sitting in the yard reading, or when I was roller skating, usually by myself and on the only sidewalk in the neighborhood that ran across one long yard, located on the opposite side of Randy’s house.  It appeared he was as much a loner as I, if not more so.

When my family moved away from the neighborhood, as he and I were entering sixth grade or middle school as it was called then, I don’t recall seeing Randy again until high school.  By then, he was as tall as his father, a thinner version, and all arms and legs.  He played basketball and became one of the best players the school ever had.  Naturally, he hung out with other basketball players, all equally tall and equally enthusiastic about the sport.

I was quiet, never talking with others in the halls but always thinking about the next class, making sure I had my books, my homework, and such.  It wasn’t in my nature to talk to anyone unless they spoke to me first, and even though I would walk by this group of players every day, words were never exchanged.  Plus, I rarely attended extra-curriculum school events.  I was shy.  Extremely shy.

Time passed.  We graduated.  More time passed.  Our class held a few class reunions, some I helped organize, some I didn’t.  I moved away and then returned to the area.  I had become more outgoing and found it easier to start conversations with people, strangers or not.  It was during that time, that reunion, that I had a chance to chat with Randy and his first words seeing me, accompanied with that infectious grin of his, were, “Hi, neighbor.”

Every reunion thereafter, he greeted me the same way.  “Hi, neighbor.”

And then he became sick, but he never missed a reunion.  He attended one with a cane.  The next time was with crutches.  His smile never changed regardless of his declining health.

October 4, 2012

And then he died.  I saw the obituary and wasn’t able to attend his Celebration of Life that a number of our classmates attended, but I thought about him that entire weekend.

A few months passed.

As was my habit, I came home from work, had dinner, then came into my living room combination office, and turned the knob on my floor lamp, to turn it on.

The knob always required a hard twist, as it was stiff and didn’t turn easily.

This night, though, the knob turned easily, too easily.  In fact, the light wouldn’t stay on.  I puzzled over the problem.  No one had been in the apartment.  No one other than me was using the lamp, so what was different?

Carefully, I twisted the knob to on, finally getting the light to come on, and I started to step away.  The light went out.  Over and over, I tried to get the light to stay on.  And every time I had it on and would start to move away, it would go out.  The knob was so loose, it was difficult to find that small range where the light would even come on, as I could spin it back and forth easily trying to search that perfect on position, where the light would say on.

For several nights, this scenario played out.  After about ten minutes, my frustration got the better of me.  I started swearing.  I couldn’t get the light to stay on, no matter what I did.

And then I heard him.  His laugh.  And the word, “neighbor.”

“Randy?”

More laughter.

“You think this is funny, don’t you?”

I could feel his grin.  “Yes!” he responded.

“Okay, you can stay but stop playing with my lamp.”  I reached up to try to turn the light on and discovered that the hard familiar twist had returned.  I tested it several times.  On and off.  On and off.  Each time, I had to twist the knob hard.  (And ever since, the knob has never changed from this hard twist.)

“Thank you,” I told him, but he was gone.  I couldn’t sense him around anymore.  He’d had his fun and I sensed he was off to have fun with someone else, somewhere else.

Move ahead to July 2014—class reunion weekend

As typical of our reunions, we have both a Friday night casual get-together and a more formal reunion on Saturday night with dinner and a band.   For the first time, I attended the Friday night casual get-together.   I had a chance to chat with Roger, a great friend of Randy’s, along with being a former basketball player with him.  During previous reunions, if I saw Randy, Roger was always right there beside him.  On that night, I felt Randy was there, having a grand time seeing so many of the coaches and teachers who were in attendance.

After I dropped off my high school best friend, I drove home thinking about the conversations, the people I had seen, many of whom wouldn’t be in attendance the next evening.

Then, I sensed a presence with me in the car.  I heard, “Tell him.”

“Randy?”

“Tell Roger, this and whitey.”

I couldn’t make out what the this word was, but I saw Randy’s fists together and then moving away from each other.  He kept repeating the motion, but I couldn’t understand what the word was.

Randy relayed a number to me, too, what sounded like 6 or 16.  I couldn’t tell which.  I wanted to look in our old yearbooks to see Randy’s basketball shirt had been numbered, but since I had destroyed my books years ago, my curiosity would have to wait.

“Tell him!  He’ll know that it’s me.  That I’m here.”

“Okay.”

A long time ago, not having given Kathy’s husband a message she wanted delivered, I had vowed never to not give someone a message being delivered from someone on the other side, no matter how silly or ridiculous it could make me appear.

The next night, Saturday, I saw Roger sitting at a table, alone at the moment, so I joined him.  I told him I had a message to give him, from another classmate, but I didn’t say who.

“I’m supposed to tell you this”—I started making the motion with my fists pulling away from each other and returning and being pulled away again, over and over—“and whitey.”  As I kept making the hand motions, I explained, “I can’t think of the word, what the word is supposed to be.”

Roger said, “Stretch?”

“Yes!” I said excitedly.  I knew without a doubt that stretch was the correct word.  It still didn’t make sense to me, but I knew it to be right.  I knew because I could feel Randy’s grin—big and broader than ever before.

“Who is this message coming from?” he asked.

“Randy.”

He looked at me, both puzzled and in wonderment.

“Why? What does stretch mean to you?”

“That was his nickname.  We called him Stretch.”

“So what does whitey mean?”

“That’s what they call me back at Madison, where I teach and coached basketball.”  We just looked at each other.

“He’s here.  He’s here with you,” I told him.  “The message was for you.”

We talked about the numbers, but Roger couldn’t remember what Randy’s jersey number had been back in high school.  He said he would look in his yearbooks, but I’ve not heard, nor could I pull up any pictures of Randy playing, where the jersey number is visible, at least visible enough to read.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever know what these numbers meant to Randy, to Roger, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.

I’d been given a message to transmit, and I had.  Roger admitted he hadn’t been much of a believer of the beyond, but now I’d given him a lot to think about.

Once I was driving home alone, I sensed Randy was with me.  Again, I could tell he was happy knowing that Roger knew that he, Randy, had attempted communication and that they were at the reunion, together again.

She Was Playing with My Computer

So, I was at work, realizing it was the second anniversary of my sister’s death.  Eileen always enjoyed a good joke, especially if she got to play them on someone else.

I saw that the slide show that had been played at her funeral had been reposted on Facebook, so I opened it.  It began with her favorite George Strait song, Amarillo By Morning, a song that now always reminds me of her, and I do have to say, it is a great song.

Anyway, I watched the slides with Strait’s song and then there was a pause for the next song to begin.  It was at this point that I saw an e-mail coming in and I wanted to check on it, while the slide show continued.

I moved my mouse to make the move and clicked.  Nothing happened.  Nothing.

I went to diminish the slide show so I could see the e-mail program, which was behind the slide screen.  Again, I clicked, and the slide-show screen, which had been in a half-screen mode, became full screen.  Now, some of you might be thinking that I’m clicking the wrong buttons, but I wasn’t.   This time when I tried to return to the half-screen mode and the mouse clicker refused to work.

I tried to click an icon down on the bottom ribbon and the mouse icon moved to the middle of the screen.

I clicked the diminish sign and nothing happened.  I clicked it again, and the volume went up.  That’s when I began to have my suspicions about what was really going on.

No matter what I did, the mouse clicker wasn’t working.  I even tried to use the escape key and got nothing.

I couldn’t get off the screen.  No. Matter.  What.  I. Tried.  Nothing.

The thing is, I needed to return to work.

So, I called our IT Department and reported the faulty mouse, telling them that I couldn’t send them an e-mail because the mouse wasn’t working.  He asked me if there were any other mice available.  There was.  In the meantime, he’d report the failure and David, our resident IT employee, would deal with it later.

So, I unhooked the mouse and went to a neighboring computer and took that mouse and plugged it in.  It worked.  I was able to shut down the slide show and return to work.

The next day, when David stopped at my desk, I explained to him how the mouse had stopped working, particularly the left clicker.  He took it, saying he’d try it out to make sure it wasn’t working before turning it in.

Minutes later he returned.  “It works just fine.”

I told him about Eileen, saying, “She was playing with me.”

He just looked at me, smiled, and said.  “Uh, huh”

I sensed Eileen laughing, totally enjoying the joke, covering up her mouth so she wouldn’t explode.

This wasn’t the first time a computer has acted up when there was someone’s favorite music playing or when I could smell someone’s favorite food, drink, or tobacco that alerts me to the fact that I’m not alone.  Spirits love anything electrical, and they let me know they’re around by playing with my TV, cable, lights, and computers.

Have I told you the story about a neighbor and classmate who played with my writing lamp?  And who later wanted me to give a message to another classmate, a best friend of his at our last class reunion?

My sister, Eileen, who lets us know she’s still around

My sister, Eileen, died on Tuesday, February 12, 2013.  In reality, I think she really died a couple days earlier—on Sunday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

At 4 a.m. that Sunday morning, my phone rang.  I shot straight up, turned on the light, put on my glasses, and looked at the caller I.D.  Not recognizing the number, I debated whether to answer the phone or not, then thought, it could be an emergency.  It was.

My nephew, Lee, informed me that his mother had been taken to Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall, having had a cardiac arrest a couple hours earlier, but was now being transferred to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where I lived.  For her to be transferred, I knew it wasn’t good, but I kept that feeling to myself.

Lee asked if I could go to the hospital to be with her until he and the rest of the family could get there, which he figured would be another hour.  I figured it to be at least two.  For me, Bronson was only fifteen minutes away.

I grabbed my purse, and a bag, throwing in a snack, water, a book, the dissertation chapter that I was currently editing, and my iPad, which was turned off, with all apps closed as was my habit, as it had been parked for its nightly recharge.

When I arrived at the hospital, it was quiet and dark, with halls devoid of activity.  I ended up in a dark waiting room, where I turned on one light so as to not awaken two women sleeping on two couches of the three couches on one side of the room.

On my side of the room, where there were a few chairs, I sensed that I wasn’t alone.  I looked around and even got up to check the hall but no one was there.  Moments later, I heard classical music playing.  I found the music comforting as classical music was my favorite type of music.  Then I heard an Adagio that was one of my favorites.  And then another.

 Once again, I sensed Eileen was in the room, but this time right next to me.  All of sudden, I realized that the music wasn’t coming from the overhead speakers but that the music was coming from my bag.

I pulled out my iPad and opened it.  No application was open or turned on, and yet the machine was playing my favorite downloaded music.  I had to open the app in order to turn it off.

“Eileen?  Are you here?” I whispered.  Immediately, I felt her grin, and then she was gone.

Eileen was well aware of my intuitive abilities, as I had told a few stories about it, but that nearly ten years early.  At the time, I didn’t think she, or the rest of my family, really believed it all.  So, I didn’t talk about much with them after that.

The family began to arrive and the prognosis wasn’t good.  In my heart of hearts, I knew that she died at 2 a.m. when the cardiac arrest had occurred.  While I sensed Lee, her second oldest child and second son, understood exactly what was happening, his brother, Bill, and three sisters—Lacy, Cathy, and Sarah—were in denial, grasping any little sign upon which to hang their hope.

Normally, I’m not one to hang around a hospital for hours upon end, but in that moment, I knew that I wasn’t really there for Eileen in seeing her recover.  Instead, I knew I was there to help her kids accept her death and make the needed transition, but I wasn’t quite sure how I could do it until finally Eileen began the conversation in a major attention-getting way later, as I was going home that night.

That entire Sunday was a day of sadness and hope for these kids, and I could see their hope flagging a little as they first talked about the reality, their fear of losing her, and then their return to hope that the doctors were wrong.  Lee was the only one of the five who believed, like me, that she was already gone.

A big family, with my sister and her friend, Lee and his wife, her sister and mother, and Eileen’s other four children, their father, plus myself, we filled most all of the seats in the room.  Three other women, strangers to us, were in the corner, with one quietly talking on her cell phone.  My three nieces were at the point of trying to convince themselves that their mother was returning to consciousness, stating as much, when all of a sudden the woman on the phone said, quite loudly, “No, I’m NOT!”

The girls’ conversation stopped immediately, their heads turned in unison to the woman who had spoken.  Realizing the woman was on the phone, the girls laughed and dismissed the outburst, but right away I knew that was Eileen speaking to her kids through that woman.  While to everyone else, the outburst looked coincidental, I knew differently.  Eileen was listening to their conversation and wanted them to come to grips of her death and was finding any way possible to tell them otherwise.  The timing of that woman’s response may have appeared coincidental, but it wasn’t.  Even one of the girls said it had sounded like Eileen.  I wanted to tell them what had occurred, but I sensed they weren’t ready to hear it, yet.  I knew there would be an opportunity to refer back to this incident later.

Conversation went back to their hope and other aspects of their own lives that they had put on hold for the time being.

Later that evening, as I drove home, I heard Eileen tell me, “Ask them about the rose ips.”

“Rose hips?”

“No, rose ips?”

“Rose lips?”

“No, rose ips.”

“ What?”

“Just do it,” she said.

Once home, I called one of the two girls who was staying overnight in the hospital, asking what they knew about rose hips or rose lips, but they didn’t have a clue.  I told them that I would see them in the morning.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When I arrived at the hospital the next morning, I asked if they had uncovered the meaning, but they hadn’t.  They told me that their father, Tim, would be arriving shortly, wondering if he would know.

When Tim arrived, they asked him about the rose lips or rose hips, and he shook his head, not knowing.  Then, I said, “Could it be rose tits?”

He burst out laughing saying it was Eileen’s favorite phrase when she got mad at him, making reference to his previous wives who had been well-endowed.  The kids were fascinated that their mother had found a way to communicate with their father.  They wanted to know more, what to listen for, how to listen, what could they expect to hear, and yet I knew they didn’t truly believe that she had died.  They felt that she was still alive but was able to communicate, but I knew differently.

Having remembered my stories from years ago, they questioned me.  To place the stories in a safe context for them, I shared some of my experiences that included my father playing with my TV after he had died a few years back.  They had loved their grandfather and knew how he had a history of repairing TVs and computers.  They asked if there were others way that the dead communicated with me and I was able to share a few stories of hearing them, smelling specific scents associated with them, like a pot-roast or brownies baking in the oven, and like their grandfather’s pipe tobacco.

They asked if they’d be able to see signs, so I told them the various ways the deceased can communicate with us.  They were interested and even spoke of doing some research on the subject.

The conversation turned and the day was filled with routine, lunch, and then a conversation with the doctor who told the family there didn’t appear to be any brain activity, but that the hospital wanted to run a few other tests to make sure.  The results wouldn’t be ready until later that night, probably the next day.  Throughout the day, two at a time, family members would go sit by Eileen’s bed and keep her company.

At one point, my sister, Monica, and Eileen’s good friend were in Eileen’s room talking about Eileen’s doll collection.  Monica was telling the friend about how Eileen would hold tea parties all the time, when we were growing up and how those dolls meant everything to her.

Unbeknownst to me, Eileen had a partial.  Upon her admittance, it had been removed and placed in a small cup of water that had a lid.  As they were talking about these tea parties, the lid had flown off the cup and flew across the room.  When I walked in the room about five minutes later, they told me what had happened.  With teeth representing talking or eating, it was Eileen’s way of saying that she wanted to join the conversation!

Monica shared the experience with the family and the Eileen stories began.  A sense of celebration had begun.

That night as I was driving home, once again, Eileen made her presence known.  “Ask about the giraffe explosion.”

“The what?”

“Giraffe explosion!”

“Giraffe explosion?  That doesn’t make sense!  Could you make it any more difficult?

I heard her laughing.

“You’re testing me, aren’t you?”

“Yes!”  And she was gone.

The minute I got home, I texted one of the girls who was staying at the hospital.  She’d didn’t know and everyone else was gone, at the moment.  We’d talk in the morning.

 Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The next morning was a repeat of the morning before.  None of the girls knew what giraffe explosion meant.  Their father arrived and they asked him.  He started laughing and told the story of a family trip to the zoo, where he’d gone into the gift shop to buy something for the kids.  Knowing he couldn’t buy just one giraffe, he came out with an armful of giraffes, one for each of the kids.  He said that Eileen had taken one look and had burst out laughing, shaking her head.

More stories were shared, and then later, at a point when it was only the three girls and I in the room, one of the girls asked me point-blank what I thought was happening to their mother.  I was able to tell them that I thought she had already died before she ever got to the hospital.  I was able to talk about my music playing on its own, and how the outburst of a stranger had fit perfectly into their conversation, sounding very much like their mother.

At that point, one of them asked, “She’s staying here because it’s what we want, isn’t it?”  They turned to each other, the truth in their eyes.

“We have to let her go, don’t we?”

One of them answered, saying that they did and that they’d have to help their oldest brother come to same resolution because of all of the kids, he was struggling the most.  In that moment, I knew the kids would be okay.  Later, the doctor confirmed that indeed Eileen was gone, there was no brain activity.  As the family began to arrive, the decision was made to pull her off life support that afternoon.  One by one, the family went in to say goodbye.

In the meantime, I needed to travel back to Marshall, a 45-minute drive, to tell my mother what was going on, as she was too ill to travel, and up until then didn’t know the seriousness of Eileen’s condition.  One of Eileen’s daughters had posted what was going to occur on Facebook, and we didn’t want an inadvertent call made to Mom before she was told by one of us in person.

I was halfway there, when all of a sudden, I fell goosebumps travel all the way to the top of my head, down to the tips of my toes, back up to my head and down to my toes again.  Then, it felt as if my spine was rising out of my body, going straight out of the back of my head.  Then, I felt this euphoric relief.

I looked at my watch: 4:37 p.m.  I sensed that I had just experienced Eileen’s death and her soul leaving her body.

About twenty minutes later, I called Lee’s wife, Heather, who said she was just getting ready to call me.  Before she could say anything more, I told her what I had felt and the time I felt it.  She replied, “That’s exactly when Eileen died.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eileen’s funeral was truly a celebration that included a drive to the ceremony and a brief prayer.  The day was miserably cold with deep clouds and thin, sporadic snowfalls.  The moment the prayer was over, a small hole appeared in the clouds where we could see blue sky and the sun shining brightly down on us, just a small portion of the crematory where we stood.  And then the hole quickly disappeared.  It was a dramatic moment noticed by all, with a few voices saying, “It’s Eileen.”

Since then

Eileen still makes her presence know from time to time, flipping lids off containers, her faint image in pictures taken since her death.  She leaves significant messages with her kids.  Even as I write this blog, I sense her here, delighted that she’s in the spotlight again, a place she enjoyed and thrived.

By no means is she forgotten, not with the legacy of life she’s left behind, nor does she allow us to forget.

Kathy and the Other Side

I could start in the beginning, but that would be boring.  Instead, let me begin where things got interesting.

Kathy and the Other Side

             Early September 1993 – Her hair gone, her skin was thin with a translucent milky-blue hue.  Huge eyes dominated her otherwise now sharply sculptured face.  She was just forty, with three young children.  It wasn’t fair that this once vibrant blonde beauty, who had sat beside me in the Florida State University football stadium in past eight years as we’d whoop our chants and cut the air with our “tomahawks” as the Seminoles carried the ball down the field against the Canes, the Tarheels, and so many other teams, had to suffer for two of those years with breast cancer.  And then, she was pregnant with her third child, excitedly so.  Successfully, she and her husband Jody welcomed their beautiful second son into their family.  And then, she discovered that the cancer had returned.

I remember the early coolish weather, the sun filtered through the pines and other trees in the yard.  In a room fixed up special for Kathy, my family and I took turns going in to say goodbye.  When it was my turn, I couldn’t help but notice how thin she’d become.  Huge glasses made her face look even more gaunt.  We hugged tightly, and she said goodbye.  Neither one of us spoke of the time two years earlier when she had begun her second battle with the cancer, when we had spent half a day together, sitting in her kitchen, bright with Tallahassee sunshine, talking about our extreme curiosity of life after death.  That was where we made a pact.

Two weeks later, Kathy was dead.

The pact: if she could, she would contact me after she died.

#

            I had moved to Tallahassee in the summer of 1988 and lived there for a year before moving to Cairo, located in the southwest corner of Georgia, about thirty-five miles from Florida’s state capital.  I got to meet and know Kathy and her husband, Jody, right away.  They were a fun couple, with two small children.

Not long after the move to Cairo, I began having premonitions and other events began happening.  I wondered if our home’s location had anything to do with the experiences.  I shared some of these happenings with Kathy, which is how we came to make our pact.

That was when Kathy died.

Time passed, about eight months.  I’d been a writer for sometime already, but now I was writing twelve hours a day, working on a book, coming out of my office only to get food and beverage or to sleep.  During the day, I was alone in the house with my husband at work and my two girls in school.  I was in my office as usual, at the computer finishing a book for a publisher’s deadline.  My fingers keyed letters into words and sentences . . .

A soft voice called out my name.

My fingers paused above the keyboard.  I looked at the door.  No one was there.

The clock told me the girls were still in school, my husband at work.  I listened.  Inside the house, the only sounds were the whirring overhead fan, circulating the air-conditioned air to offset the one-hundred-degree South summer heat and humidity that cloaked the house, the soft hum of the computer as it idled, and the steady tick of the wall clock.  Outside, the unmistakable buzz of the katydids—a sound I had come to love—became a backdrop to every other sound.  I could hear the buzz from inside.  Not hearing anything else, including a voice, I assumed my imagination was at work.

I returned to the keys, and was quickly engrossed in my story again.  I heard my name called again.  Only this time, it was said louder than before.  And the sound was distinct.

I froze.  Slowly, I rose from my chair, my heart racing, my mouth dry.  Cautiously, I moved to the door.  I half-expected one of the girls to jump out at me, screaming, “Boo!”  They delighted in hearing me scream or gasp with fright, a hand to my heart to steady the racing beat.  They didn’t jump out at me.  No one did.  There wasn’t anyone there.

Yet, ever so slowly, I stuck my head out the door, allowing peripheral vision to search either side of the door frame quickly.

I looked to the right.  No one was there.

I looked to the left.  The hall was empty.

My adrenalin high, my armpits sticky from fear, my breath trembled as I exhaled.

I’d been holding my breath.  For a few moments, I was rooted to the spot . . . waiting.  For what, I didn’t know.  I shook off the feeling and returned to the computer.

A few weeks later, I heard my name called again, then a rattling in the hall closet that was closest to my office.  It was a closet that I used as a pantry for canned goods.  I ignored the noise.

Minutes later, it happened again, but this time the added ping of the doorbell sounded for no apparent reason.  I say no apparent reason because frequent brown-outs, as I called them, occurred on a weekly basis, a hick-up in the power where the lights would blink, the computer’s battery backup would buzz, the fans would slow down due to no power, the VCRs turning off and then back on, the clocks blinking requiring a reset, and the doorbell would ping.

This time, however, the only sound had been the doorbell.  The computer battery didn’t buzz.  The VCRs were silent.  The lights and fans remained on, steadily doing their jobs.  There had been no brown-out.

As before, I went to the office door and looked down the hall.  This time, I moved toward the pantry/closet door where I thought I had heard the rattle.  Almost at the closet door, I went through a cold spot.

Goose bumps ran up and down my body.

I had heard about cold spots and how they depicted a sign that you were walking through a dead person’s soul or presence.  But I shook off the thought.  It was nearly 100 degrees outside.  There’d been no cold spot, I tried to tell myself.  But deep down, I knew it’d been a cold spot.  Extremely cold.

I opened the closet door.  Nothing.  I shut the door.

I shivered.

I heard my name again, only this time the sound was nearby, almost a whisper in my ear, as if someone was speaking to me, standing behind me.

“Kathy?”  I whispered.  “Is that you?”

“Yes,” she replied, softly.

I smiled and felt her smile back.  “We had it all wrong,” she gushed.  “Our image of God, our souls, our purpose.  Everyone has it wrong, everyone.”  Kathy was a devote Catholic, so I was curious how it was wrong, so I asked.

“What’s it like?”

Her voice was filled with joy.  “I can’t describe it, but it’s all about joy, love, and awareness of what we’ve done, who we are.  It’s about knowing.  Having all knowledge.  It’s wonderful!!!  The church has it so wrong.  So wrong.”  I asked her what she meant by that, but she didn’t answer me.  Instead, she repeated how much love there was.  And then she left.  My questions of wanting specifics went unanswered.  Kathy would not be the one to provide me with those answers, but she had provided a window into the unknown for me.

I was ecstatic that she had made contact and that our questions about death were being answered.  I was strangely comforted knowing she was around.  At that time, I didn’t tell anyone.  I didn’t want anyone to think that I had gone nuts.  I wondered if anyone would understand, including my family.  Up until that time, I’d been experiencing various small adventures of mysticism, but I couldn’t explain what was happening, so I kept my experiences to myself.  How in the world would I be able to explain this experience with credibility?

Interesting enough, several months later, I decided to share with my family what I’d experienced and Kathy’s visit.  Lo and behold as I talked about the odd ping of the doorbell, my youngest daughter, said, “And then it sounds like cans moving in the closet?”

I stared at her.  “And when you walk in the hall–”

“There’s a cold spot,” she announced.

“That’s Kathy,” I said.

The two girls looked at each other, both talking at the same time.  “Don’t tell me anymore,”  and “I don’t want to hear it.”  They walked away believing but also in denial.  It scared them too much.

A couple of weeks later, Kathy contacted me again.  Like the time before, I was working in my office and heard my name called.

“Kathy?”

“Call, Jody (her husband) and tell him to tell Deirdre (their oldest child) no.”

I hesitated.  What if Jody laughed at me?  Would anyone be able to understand what was happening to me?  Did I understand it?  Kathy prodded me and I argued with myself.  I suspect she heard my arguing with myself, because a short time later, she was gone.  She had given up.

How in the world would I call Jody and explain to him that his dead wife had contacted me with a message to give to him.  I couldn’t make the call without feeling foolish.  And yet, I wanted to call.  I decided to think about it.  From time-to-time, the request weighed heavily on me but then some task would present itself and the thought would be gone again.

Six months later, I ran into Jody.  He looked frazzled as any man who had lost his wife and was left with three young children to raise on his own would look.  I asked if six months earlier he’d had a problem with any of the kids.

“Yes, with Deirdre,” he said, shaking his head remembering.  “I had to make the first biggest decision regarding the kids since Kathy died.”

“What happened?”  I held my breath.  I wasn’t interested in knowing the details, or even what the problem was.  All I wanted to know if his answer had been yes or no.

“I told her yes, and I have been regretting it ever since.”

Then and there, I vowed that if in the future anyone who had died asked me to deliver a message to the living, I would do it, regardless of how awkward it might be for me.  Little was I to know that years later, I’d be asked to deliver a difficult message . . . or two.