I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church where children learn about heaven and hell at a very young age. One is the most glorious place imaginable; the other a scorching pit of fire. The way a person lives their life will determine which place they will go when they die. And, as an impressionable kid, I had faith in the truth of what I was taught.
As an adult, however, my views began to change. I still adhere to the general principal that good deeds will be rewarded, I just don’t think the concept of heaven and hell is as cut and dried as I was taught. The one thing I do know for sure, though, is that our existence doesn’t always end when we die. How can I be certain? Well, I have proof because I see dead people.
When I was in my late 20’s, I went through a period where I was drinking pretty heavily every night. I was in a relationship that I wanted out of, and alcohol would numb my unhappiness. (Don’t judge. I’ve gotten smarter since then.) Anyway, when I woke up one morning and remembered seeing my grandmother (who’d died about 10 years prior) sitting on the side of my bed, I wrote it off to having one too many the night before. It did seem strange that the memory was so vivid because most mornings I woke up with my head so foggy I didn’t even remember going to bed. Nevertheless, I knew it had to be a dream. I never even considered that possibility that she’d really paid me a 3:00 am visit from beyond.
Fast forward about 10 years. I was working in a friend’s yard and got hit in the head with a dead tree limb and knocked unconscious. Two other people were at the house at the time. But, on the way to the hospital I kept insisting a third person was there also. I could remember seeing the outline of a person’s body, but couldn’t recall any facial features no matter how hard I tried. I don’t know how many times I asked my two friends about the third person, but they finally convinced me that I was wrong. Nobody else was there. Oh well, what do you expect when you get bumped in the head with a 50 lb. hunk of oak? A hallucination or two is probably not that uncommon.
These were fairly random incidents that could be easily explained and it didn’t take me long to forget about them. What happened a couple of years later, however, was something I will always remember.
As a passenger in a friend’s car, I was involved in a serious car accident. A blind spot at an intersection caused my friend to turn left in front of an oncoming vehicle. This was a five lane highway so the other car was travelling at a fairly high rate of speed when they struck us on the side where I was sitting. Our car, an older model Blazer rolled and ended up laying on its’ side. I wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was thrown to the rear of the vehicle. I think I was laying sideways at the back window of the SUV when we stopped. My friend asked if I was okay. I said, “Yes, but I don’t know how to get out. I can’t move. I think I’m stuck.”
At that point, I remember seeing a hand…just a hand…palm out as if to tell me to wait or stop. I could see the sparkle of broken glass on the pavement, then a blanket or some type of cover spread out over it. The hand then extended toward me and I reached out to grab it for support. I don’t remember having to try to move again. It was like I just floated out of the truck. I held the hand as it guided me to the sidewalk where my friend was sitting. I didn’t see the person helping me, only their hand. Again, I don’t remember actually moving or walking, it was more like I was just suddenly there. My friend and I were both very calm and later only remembered speaking one word to each other as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. That word was God, and we said it at the exact same time.
When the paramedics began to assess our injuries one of the first things they asked was if we’d gotten out of the car on our own. I looked around for the “Good Samaritan” who’d come to my aid, but there was no one there. I saw the driver of the other car but he was on the other side of the intersecting road. I told the medical technicians that someone had helped me out, but I had no idea who it was.
My friend and I both escaped the accident with minor injuries. I didn’t realize how unbelievable that was until the next day when I saw my friends car. Her older model SUV was now a mangled mess of metal. Realizing that I was inside that truck while it was being practically demolished gave me a feeling that I can’t begin to describe. And, from that day on, I have been convinced there is some force or power greater than us as humans. Guardian angles in some form or fashion do exist.
That incident changed me, but there still wasn’t anything specific I could use as confirmation. That wouldn’t come until several years later, after my Dad passed away.
Due to some insurance compliance issues, I didn’t have a driver’s license for several years. Once I was eligible to get it reinstated, I couldn’t ever come up with the money for a vehicle and all the fees needed to be licensed again. This turned out to be around a 6 or 7 year period that I couldn’t drive. My Dad was always saying something like, “If you don’t get it taken care of before, when I die you can have my car and you’ll be able to get things straightened out.” Of course, I would always tell him he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so I needed to figure out another solution. Unfortunately, he ended up being right and I still wasn’t driving when he died in 2006.
My Mother confirmed that I could have his car and I began to work on saving the money I needed for my license. I knew how much the insurance and reinstatement fee would be, but as far as emissions and tag and title transfer, I wasn’t sure. My mother had deposited my income tax return (around $200, I believe) and I was working extra hours and eating ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner so I could save. When the day came for us to take care of things, I was pretty sure I had close to what I needed. As long as it wasn’t much, my Mom would help if needed.
We ran out of time that first day before we could get the emission test and tag, so I spent the night at my Mom’s so we could finish up the next morning. Sometime during the night I woke up and saw a smoky looking figure walking away from the couch where I’d fallen asleep. Somehow I knew it was my Dad, and remember thinking he must have been there to “pat me on the back” because I was getting my license back.
It wasn’t until the next afternoon driving back from the tag office that I remembered what had happened. I was turning into my Mom’s neighborhood (she was following in her car) when I suddenly thought about it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to share the story with my mother or not. Would it upset her or would she just think I was crazy? I went in the house still undecided. The first thing I did was pick up the remote to turn on the TV. I didn’t change the channel or check the guide to see what was on. As it came on, the first thing I heard was Oprah asking her guest, “What did your Mom when you told her your dead grandfather visited you at night?” Wow! (Her guest was the real life person that the show “The Medium” was based on.)
I did tell my Mother, but I’m not sure if she believed me at the time. Then, she did the calculations to see if I owed her any money. When she discovered that my tax return and the money I’d saved came to the exact dollar for what I’d needed to take care of everything, she may have been a little more convinced.
It’s now been almost 11 years since my Dad passed away. I’ve had a few more experiences where I either believed I saw him or was sure I felt his presence. Last year on Valentine’s Day, there was another pretty extraordinary example of his presence in our lives. I woke up the morning of February 13th remembering what at first I thought was a dream. I didn’t have any visual recollection of what happened, all I could remember was my Dad saying, “Why don’t you get my bride (what he’d always called my Mother) some flowers for Valentine’s Day?” It stayed on my mind all day so when I got off work that night I decided to stop somewhere and get the gift for her in case it really was him asking.
They had a big display of bouquets right inside the door at Walmart. I looked through them for about 15 minutes. (I have a hard time making decisions.) I finally narrowed it down to two choices. I had one in each hand, alternating holding them out in front of me trying to decide which to buy. A random man walked from inside the store towards the door talking on his cell phone. He got a couple of steps past me when he stopped, turned around and said, “HE said the one in your left hand.” Who did he mean by “he”? I wasn’t sure but I know I quickly put the one in my right hand back in the display and hurried to the register to make my purchase.
You may find the stories I’ve just shared hard to believe. Your skepticism does not offend me. I’m not certain I would believe them either had I not experienced them first hand. If you the presence of a loved one who has passed away, don’t disregard it. I now believe my grandmother did visit me that night, probably out of concern for how much I was drinking. The friend whose yard I was in that day was the girlfriend of my best friend who’d died a few years before. I now believe he was the one there when I was hurt. As far as the car accident, I’m still not sure who my guardian angel was that day. I can tell you this, along with their protection, they also changed my life.