Visitations: Can Our Lost Loved Ones Make Contact After Death
Never Say Goodbye
My relationship with my father had always been tumultuous. We were two opposite sides of the same coin. We loved each other, but hardly ever saw eye to eye on anything which led to numerous periods of estrangements over the years.
It was only when I had a family of my own that I began to have a better understanding of my father. It turned out that I didn't know as much as I thought I knew. Being a parent isn't always easy and, sometimes, you have to be the bad guy. With this newfound knowledge, I reached out to him and we both agreed to let bygones be bygones.
When I began my writing career, my father was my biggest cheerleader. He read each of my books as quickly as I could write them. He even contributed stories every now and then. Every time I spoke with him, he asked me how the books were coming along. He had become a rabid fan.
Things were better between us than they had ever been just before everything came crashing down. It was in September of 2016 when my sister phoned me with the news that our dad had fallen in the home he shared with his second wife. He was being taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
When we spoke with the attending physician, we were told that the fall had not been anything to worry about. My father was eighty-six years old, but was in pretty good condition for a man his age. The fall had resulted in nothing more serious than a few bumps and bruises. We were informed that they would be keeping him for observation and then he would be free to go.
I hadn't seen my father for three months and the way he looked when I saw him in the hospital was nothing short of shocking. He was, literally, skin and bones. He had always been muscular, even in his senior years, but there no longer appeared to be an ounce of muscle or fat on him.
Due to the fall, his face was a mass of black and blue marks. In spite of his appearance, he was in good spirits and seemed happy to see me. We spoke for a while and he was completely coherent. His only complaint was that he was in the hospital at all. He just wanted to go home. To him, the whole thing was much ado about nothing.
Initially, we were told that he could go home after they finished running a few tests. They didn't, however, say in what century that would take place. Every day, we were told that he could probably leave soon, but soon never came. His condition was worsening by the day.
After several days in the hospital, we were told that my father was now suffering from pneumonia. He was getting weaker by the minute at this point. Worst of all, he didn't recognize us most of the time. During one of my visits, he even yelled at me thinking that I was his doctor.
As I watched my dad's condition steadily decline, I couldn't help but reflect on the months leading up to his fall. In his youth, my father had been a law enforcement officer. He loved his years serving in the West Virginia State Police and was lost for a while after his retirement. It had definitely been his calling.
He told me that he had seen things during his years in the force that I would not believe. On more occasions than I can count, he asked me to come to his house and write down his stories. He thought that they would make a great book. My father wanted nothing more than for his daughter, the writer, to pen his life story.
For reasons I will never fully understand, I balked. It is to my everlasting shame and regret that I didn't take him up on his offer. I made one excuse after another as to why I couldn't make the trip out to his home in the country to listen to his stories. There just didn't seem to be enough hours in the day.
Part of me thinks that by writing down the story of my father's life, that would signal that it was coming to an end. We were in such a good place at the time that I wasn't ready for it to be over. Besides that, I simply didn't think that time would run out so quickly. As I said before, my dad was still relatively healthy. He wasn't suffering from any terminal illnesses. I told myself that I would write his memoirs some other day, or week, or month. In other words: some other time.
And then, just like that, he had gone into the hospital for treatment following a minor fall and never returned home--at least not in life. The call from my sister came during the second week of my father's hospital stay informing me that he was gone. He had died six days before what would have been his eighty-seventh birthday.
I can't begin to describe the aching pain that immediately settled in the pit of my stomach. It was as though grief, sadness, regret, loss and shame had all united and decided to wage a war on the center of my being. The feeling was terrible and it would not go away. I didn't want to eat, talk or do anything except for wallow in my grief. I just wanted to be left alone.
This went on for nearly a week. I cried until I couldn't cry anymore, but it didn't help. The pain wouldn't let up, not even for a second. The pain in my stomach was so intense that I could barely stand. Finally, I asked for relief from the one person I thought could help--my dad.
I had always heard that our loved ones who have passed away can return to us in our dreams. This is a time when our minds are at ease and we are the most open to anything and everything around us. After enduring the unrelenting pain for over a week, I asked my father to come to me in my sleep.
I told my dad, out loud, that I needed to speak to him one last time. I was ready to listen to any story that he felt like sharing. The tables had turned and it was me who was begging for an audience. I told him that I would take anything he had to offer if he would only give me this chance. I then, after many sleepless nights, closed my eyes and drifted off to a place in which I hoped my father would be waiting.
It didn't work. I woke up the next morning feeling worse than ever. An overwhelming emptiness had settled upon me and showed no signs of letting up. My only hope, the dream experiment, had been an abysmal failure. I was lost.
That night, I was sitting on the couch watching a movie with my husband when I began to doze off. It was in a place somewhere between being awake and asleep that I saw my father for the first time since his passing.
He was standing in our driveway beside a big, red truck. He was smiling from ear to ear as he gazed upon me and my family. The thing that made the vision so relatable was his attire. He was wearing a fishing vest, a fisherman's hat with hooks in it and, in his hand, he was holding a fishing pole.
No one on this earth loved fishing more than my father. It was his passion for as long as I can remember. To see him in all his glory, decked out next to his truck in full fisherman's regalia, immediately warmed my heart.
I opened my eyes and sat for a while as I tried to remember every detail of what I had just witnessed in my mind's eye. It had been beautiful to see him looking so happy and content. The only thing missing had been words. He had not spoken to me, thus the familiar ache was still present in my core.
Later, on that same night, I asked my dad again if he would visit me in my sleep. I needed to know that he was alright and that he bore no hard feeling towards me. It might seem selfish, but I just wanted him to know that I loved him and I needed to know that he loved me, too. More importantly, the words had to come directly from him.
I woke up the next morning feeling completely euphoric. I will never be able to adequately describe my mindset as I welcomed the new day. What I can tell you is that the pain, which had been gnawing away at me for over a week, was completely gone. That, however, was only the beginning.
I felt as though I was walking on air for hours after I woke up that day. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my father and I had met somewhere during the night.
What was spoken between us in that meeting place, I'll never know. I do recall seeing his face, but remember no words being exchanged. I do know that we were in the same place at the same place. Whatever it was that he said to me, it made everything alright.
Honestly, I feel only a warm sense of love and bonhomie when I think of my father now. Gone are the regrets of the past. He had, somehow, taken all of the negative feelings away. Believe it or don't, my father had given me the wonderful gift of total forgiveness and undying love as only a parent could do.
I wasn't the only one grieving the loss of our father. My sister and brother were both coping with his death in their own ways. My brother, who was the closest to my dad, is not one to share his feelings so he kept them to himself.
My sister occupied herself in the days after our father passed by helping to make the funeral arrangements. She kept busy in an effort to avoid dealing with her grief head-on. She knew that she would have to face it sooner or later, but now wasn't the time.
A little over a month after our father's death, my sister bought a new flat screen television for her bedroom. The old unit had not been moved for many years and was so bulky that she had to rock it back and forth in order to slide it off of the chest of drawers on which it sat. It was when she moved the television that she made a startling discovery.
There, among the dust bunnies and other bits of refuse that had accumulated underneath the set over the years, she saw three coins. Even though everything around them was covered in layers of dust, the coins were shiny and looked as though they had just been placed there recently.
When she picked them up, my sister noticed that these coins were special in more ways than one. They were quarters, but not just any quarters, these were bicentennial. This might not have been significant to most people, but it had a deeper meaning for our family.
My father had collected bicentennial quarters from the moment they had become available decades earlier. Many a day had been spent with our whole family sitting around counting my dad's bicentennial coin collection. As kids, we would stack them in neat piles for him. He even purchased commemorative cases in order to keep his cache safe. They were only quarters, but he treated them as if they were made of gold.
My sister knew that my dad had not been in that room for years. There was no way that he could have placed the coins on her chest of drawers. She also knew that they did not belong to her. She didn't collect any coins and, even if she did, she wouldn't have stacked them underneath her cumbersome television set.
She took the discovery of the coins as a sign from my father that he was doing fine in his life after life. He knew that she would understand what the coins represented. It was his way of telling her that he couldn't depart this earth without first leaving behind something to remember him by. He had left three of his cherished bicentennial quarters, one for each of the children he had loved in life and would continue to love forevermore.
The Angry Spirit
My father-in-law and his sister, Rose, were as close as siblings can be. Even after they had entered adulthood and were living thousands of miles apart, they still shared an unbreakable bond. The invisible thread that connected them was one that would not easily be severed.
Rose had been in in fragile health for most of her life and her condition was worsening with age. Her brother visited her as often as possible, but it wasn't always easy. He experienced a great deal of anxiety every time he had to head back home after one of their visits, never knowing if he would see her again.
When I first met my husband, Rose was waging the battle of her life with systemic lupus. Sadly, it was a fight that she would not win. Rose passed away, leaving behind three grown children as well as her grief-stricken brother. Still, he believes that she visited him in her moment of transition to the next world.
For several years, my father-in-law had been dividing his time between a home in Ohio and one in Florida. He was at his place in Florida when he received word that his sister's health was failing and that he should make plans to return to Ohio as soon as possible.
He and his wife went into panic mode as they rushed to pack their camper with the items they would need for the trip. No longer as spry as he used to be, my father-in-law would need to stop at rest areas along the way so that he could take a break from driving. It was for this reason that they needed a camper.
My father-in-law spoke with his sister by phone before embarking on his trip. He told her that they would be on the road as soon as the sun came up the next morning. She told him that it would be fine, she would wait for him.
True to his word, they were out of the house at dawn. At one of the rest stops, my father-in-law recalls sitting in the camper reading a magazine with he saw something that resembled a comet emerge from the wall that was directly facing him.
As the comet drew nearer, it morphed into the form of a woman. The woman glided across the floor, a five foot long trail of black smoke trailing behind her. He remembers her hair being swept back as if by a strong wind. As she grew closer to him, her mouth opened in a silent scream. He could clearly see her teeth as she snarled only inches from his face.
The ghastly vision hovered in front of him for several seconds before floating to the opposite wall from which it had appeared. When he came to his senses, my father-in-law glanced at his watch. The time was 11 o'clock in the morning.
Just over an hour later, he received the call that he had been dreading. His sister had passed away at 11:45. He had already known that something terrible had happened even before the words were spoken. He knew because the snarling figure that had entered the room had worn the face of his beloved Rose.
My father-in-law later spoke to a Catholic priest about the disturbing visit from his sister at the hour of her death. The priest wasn't at all surprised by the story. Rather, he explained that death appears to some in the form of a black apparition.
The priest went on to say that, in his opinion, Rose had resented the fact that her brother had not been with her in her final hours. This had prompted her to lash out at him in spirit. Although her body had still been living at the time of the sighting, he felt that Rose's soul had already begun its journey. It just had one stop to make before leaving this world for good.
My mother-in-law, Pat, passed away in March of 2016. Her death was sudden and sent shockwaves rippling throughout our entire family. To make a horrible situation even worse, it had been my husband and I who discovered her body. It was a sight that no one should have to see.
Since Pat's death had been so unexpected, there were many unresolved issues between her and her only child. My husband, Larry, had not always been there for his mother and the same thing could be said of her. Still, neither of them had realized that her life would be cut short with no warning.
Wracked with both grief and guilt, my husband asked his mother to send him a sign that she was alright and that everything was good between them. Neither one of us actually expected see any results from his plea. We both knew that Pat could be a bit stubborn. She was also full of surprises, as we would soon discover.
The first sign that we received from Pat came while Larry and I were cleaning out her apartment. My purse was sitting on the stovetop while I worked clearing out her hall closets. At the same time, Larry was busy in the dining room gathering up items for the estate sale we were planning.
Suddenly, the silence in the apartment was interrupted by the sound of someone speaking. Larry heard it first. It seemed to be coming from someplace far away. As he followed the voice, it led him to my purse. When he opened my bag and looked inside, he saw that my cell phone was lit up and the word "Mom" was displayed.
Upon further investigation, we discovered that the "Mom" who was calling was not his, but mine. Somehow, even though no one had been anywhere near my phone, it had managed to call my mother. The voice we heard had been my mom repeating "hello" over and over again.
We had no explanation for how my phone had dialed my mother with no human intervention. Somehow, the call was also put on speaker, which doesn't happen unless the user adjusts the settings. That had never happened before and has not occurred since.
The next incident also involved my purse, sort of. Shortly before Pat died, we had been visiting her when she asked to borrow a pen. I had recently purchased a set of two pens that I coveted. They wrote like a dream.
Reluctantly, I took one of the pens out of my purse and handed it to Pat. At the time, a terrible flu had been going around and Pat wiped her nose and then touched the pen without washing her hands. It sounds horribly petty and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I didn't want the pen back after witnessing the germ fest. Instead, I told her that she could keep the pen.
Little things sometimes come back to haunt you and this was one of them. The very next time I visited Pat, she informed me that she had lost the pen. For some reason, she had felt the need to return it to me, but she couldn't find it anywhere. I told her that it was fine, I had wanted her to have it anyway. I kept the reason why to myself for obvious reasons.
Pat passed away a couple of weeks later, but the story didn't end there. Shortly after her death, I was digging around in my purse for something and discovered that I had not one, but both of the pens once again in my possession. I can't explain how it got there, but the pen I had given to Pat was back with its mate. I had not seen it after giving it to her, that is, until that moment.
Pat had not given the pen back to me while she was living and I had certainly not taken it back. Even so, it was mine once again and I kept it, germs and all. Pat had obviously wanted me to have it.
One of Pat's favorite things in the world was a hard candy that was root beer flavored and shaped like a barrel. In the time leading up to her passing, she had been craving the candy and asked us to try to find her a bag of it on our next shopping trip. We searched at every store in our area, from large chain stores to small local shops to no avail. We couldn't find it anywhere. Assuming that it was a thing of the past, we gave up on looking for the candy she craved.
After Pat died, we were shopping at a very popular mega store when, completely by accident, we found one solitary bag of root beer barrel candy. It was displayed in an aisle that was clear across the store from where the food items were located.
We had searched at that very store for the candy when Pat had made her plea. We couldn't find any and, when we asked for it specifically, were told that they didn't carry it. Now, for no explainable reason, there was one bag lying out in the open for us to see.
My daughter had been wanting a new, larger bed around the time of her grandmother's passing. As it happened, Pat had owned two beds that had barely been used. They both had new mattresses that were the same brand and nearly identical. One was located in, what had been, Pat's bedroom while the other was in the guest room.
It was left up to me to choose which bed would be best suited for my daughter. Larry and I had cleared everything, except for the mattresses, out of the rooms in preparation for the upcoming sale. I couldn't decide which mattress would be the most comfortable so I kept going back and forth and testing them out.
It had been an exercise in futility since both mattresses felt exactly the same to me. It was during this time of indecision that I laid down on the mattress in the guest room and tried to make up my mind. It was then that I noticed something lying on the floor beside me. When I picked it up, I had my answer.
The object that I had found, on an otherwise empty floor, was a photograph of my daughter that we had given to Pat. We had cleaned that room thoroughly and neither one of us had seen the photo on the floor or anywhere else. Now, it was out in the open, as plain as day, for me to see.
However the picture got there, I took it as a sign from Pat that this was the mattress she would have chosen for her granddaughter. As it turned out, she was right. My daughter loved the bed and mattress, just as her grandmother would have wanted.
Pat wasn't finished with us just yet. My husband had to travel to Georgia a few weeks after his mother died. It was while on this trip that he received an alert on his cell phone that signaled him that he had a new voicemail. As he played the message, a thousand memories came flooding back to him. The voicemail was from his mother.
The message had been recorded on the night that Pat died, but for some reason, he had not received it at the time. On the recording, Pat told him that she was sorry she had missed him and that she would call again some other time. Her voice was upbeat and cheerful, which I must say, was not her usual personality. She was a nice woman, but not a bubbly person by nature.
This last contact from his mother meant everything to the son she had left behind. He knew now that she had been in good spirits just before she passed. It bothered him that the message had not come through while she was still living. Perhaps the time had not been right. Maybe Pat had needed a little more time before she could let her son know that she had found peace at last.