There were three of us seated in the living room. The internet and cable was down so we were spending more time reading and talking. It was a good thing. Marion suggested that we all talk about the strangest metaphysical experience we have ever had. I thought to myself there were too many to count, but I would narrow it down to a few.
Tiano went first and shared how during a class called Landmark he really could feel the unity of all things for several hours. Ah, I knew what story I would share, I thought. He then told us how after his father passed away he “saw” him on the street walking towards him. He and his father stared at each other as they walked toward one another. But then his father passed him. At first, Tiano was in shock to see his dad’s spirit since seeing the dead was not part of his daily life. After his father walked by, he turned to chase after him, but he had vanished.
Marion had followed with a story about the three days after her mother passed away. While she could not see her mother, she could feel her presence, especially as she was writing the eulogy. She knew her mother was looking over shoulder, reading what was on the page just for her.
I was next and I relayed that my story was in two parts and knowing what I was about to say would be controversial I asked that they listen to the entire thing before interjecting. They both agreed. “Last year,” I continued, “I was waiting after my pedicure for my step-mother who wasn’t finished yet. For whatever reason, Adolph Hitler popped in my mind. At first I thought it was strange that I was thinking about him, but then it occurred to me (this is the part where you have to read the whole thing, before judging what is about to be written) that the Holocaust never took place. That is, it never occurred in another dimension; in ours it did. I could see both realities so clearly at the same time and I knew they were both true."
When I arrived home I picked up Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch and the first line I read was ‘Hitler went to Heaven.’ Essentially, according to Walsch, or should I say God, all Beings enter Heaven, whether we are considered ‘good’ or ‘evil’ we are all still there. Needless to say, I knew that the Universe was sending me a message that my previous realization was true.
I then shared the second part of the story. I continued reading CwG and for whatever reason I felt inspired to pick up and hold my yellow calcite crystal. At one point, I put the book down and stared at the crystal in my hand. I could see that the crystal and my hand were one. We were the same thing. I had been reading for years, that all Beings are part of the One Divine Source. While I believed it intellectually, this was the first time I was seeing it. I knew in my heart for the first time that it was true. This spectacle only lasted a few seconds, but that is all that was required to change me; to know just the inner workings of the Universe.
The image I was seeing reminded me of the scene in Ladyhawke. Two of the characters were lovers who had a curse set upon them by a jealous bishop in the church. If he could not have this woman, then no one could. The forlorn lovers would only remain human for half of the day and turn into an animal during the other half. He would be human during the day and she at night. Mathew Broderick’s character made a plan where the two would be put in a ditch so that when the two transformed into their opposing shapes, for a moment they would be human at the same time and could see one another. As Michelle Pfeifer and Rutger Hauer changed forms; he from a wolf back to a man and she from a woman back to a hawk, for one instant they were both human as well as their animal counterparts at the same time. That is what the image of my hand and the crystal was like.
Marion was incredulous and stated matter-of-factly that she didn’t believe in other dimensions. That was fine, I said, but the world was flat once and while some could see that it was round, many could not, but just because they were not aware of the truth yet, didn’t mean it did not exist. She became thoughtful and admitted that while in meditation it felt like she was in a different dimension. I confirmed that that’s because she had.
We each took turns telling our stories, when I declared that when I was a little girl I used to see a ghost every single night of my life until I moved away from my childhood home at the age of five. Every night this male in shadow, wearing a hat and raincoat, very much like something Humphrey Bogart would have worn in many of his movies, peered at me through my bedroom doorway. Knowing full well it wasn’t my dad, I asked him loudly enough so he could hear me down the hall if it was. My dad inevitably would crawl out of bed into mine and try to comfort me, telling me that there was nothing there. My dad would quickly fall asleep and I would continue staring at the ghost in my doorway that scared me and gave me a lifelong battle with insomnia.
As I grew up, I stopped seeing ‘dead people’ and I chalked the whole experience to being a childhood fantasy. I was an agnostic and wasn’t really sure if God and the afterlife really existed. I needed proof. I would eventually get it.
At the age of 26, my life would begin to change after one fateful moment; one of my best friends, Tom, died. My story begins on a Monday night when I felt an insatiable urge to call him. I would dial his phone number and then hang up. I must have repeated this process 20 times. It was odd. Why had I been afraid to speak to him?
The following Wednesday was my day off and I woke up in a melancholic state of mind. I couldn’t explain it. I went to the movies and watched A League of Her Own. It’s funny what we remember when it is tied to a more memorable occasion.
Afterwards, I walked up the 54 stairs from the ground level to my room and noticed the answering machine was blinking. I pressed play and heard Sandy’s voice asking me to call her. Maggie was next and she asked me to call her at Sandy’s. At that point I knew. Tom was gone. I continued listening to the messages from every member of our group, except Tom.
I quickly picked up the phone and dialed Sandy’s number. I could barely catch my breath. She wouldn’t tell me over the phone what had happened. I had to come over. I hung up the phone on the receiver and raced down the ubiquitous stairs, threw open the car door and sped at perhaps 100 miles an hour the few miles to Sandy’s. I am not even sure I locked my door, after I arrived. I then ran up the four flights of stairs, which was a miracle in itself since I am asthmatic, but I did it.
Sandy was waiting at the top of the stairway. She was looking at her plant, barely able to look at me. When I demanded that she tell me what had happened, she couldn’t speak. She was still in a state of shock. “I already know. Tom is dead!” I cried. I overheard Colin asking Fran how I knew that, but I was still buried in the closet about my intuitive side and I just couldn’t go there at that moment.
I was told that Tom had died on Monday night. That explained why I was afraid to call him. He was having an asthma attack and he tried to call for help, but didn’t make it. His body was found that morning. That explained why I felt melancholic when I woke up.
A lot of tears and a lot of commiserating took place. None of us had lost a good friend before. Tom was so young; only 28. In one moment, our childhood feeling of, "I can do anything for I am immortal," was struck down. Mortality slapped us directly in the face.
Tom was a carefree soul who lived each day with gusto. He grew up with chronic asthma and always had to have special care. I didn’t know it for years, as he hid the truth from me. To me he was this crazy scientist who wore mismatched high top sneakers. The second time I met him, he took off all his clothes in a cab going from a party to a bar and performed the dance ‘Rock Lobster’ to the B’52 song while in the back of the station wagon. I was with my boyfriend at the time, but I assure you, I peeked.
A month before he died he admitted to me how bad his asthma really was. I always knew he had it, but didn’t realize the depth of his malady. As a child his bedroom had to be separated from the other kids. Growing up Irish Catholic on Masapequa, Long Island he had a few brothers and one sister. Even though Tom was the youngest, he had his own room as did his sister, while his older brothers had to share.
He continued to tell me he had spent the previous month in the hospital which is why he hadn’t been in touch. His asthma was affecting him again. The doctor’s initially thought he AIDS. This was the 80’s and the AIDS scare was everywhere. I countermanded that it was impossible. He only practiced safe sex. Yes, but he used to do heroin, he admitted. I was stunned. That’s why he left New York. He had to start new in California…and he did.
I was remembering this conversation with him as I sat on the couch at Sandy’s apartment, when I looked up and saw him. There he was. It was Tom.
I hadn’t seen a spirit being since my childhood and where once I thought it was my imagination, now I knew otherwise. This moment was my turning point. While I still didn’t believe in God, I knew there was an afterlife. Tom gave me that gift.
He followed me everywhere for the next week or so. When I flew to New York for the funeral he was on the plane. He was with me at all the funerary events. One night amidst many tears, I admitted to Francine he was there. It was around 3:00 in the morning and we had all been drinking so I was fairly certain she would not remember the next day. My secret about my intuitive self would still be safe.
Fran had told Tom a few days before he died how the character Owen Meany from the book A Prayer for Owen Meany reminded her of him. Not that they looked or acted alike, but that they both embraced every day of their lives. They were special and knew they only had a short time here and took advantage of every moment. She bought all of us a copy of the book and after arriving back home to San Francisco I read it while in bed.
I put the book down and started to fall asleep. I was not asleep yet, but I was not awake either. I was in the ‘in-between place.’ That’s when I saw Tom in my mind’s eye, or my dream.
For the first time since his death he spoke to me. Maybe he had been trying to speak to me before, but I couldn’t hear him. In this in-between place I could. He admitted he had been with me because I was the only one who could see him. He asked me to tell Fran and his sister that he was ok. That was the extent of the message, but it was important to him that I convey it. I then felt a hard slap on my face in real life that woke me up and when I got up to look in the mirror there was a hand print on my right cheek. I was not happy that he hit me, but I guess he wanted me to know it was real.
That was the last time I saw him. He was gone.
It took me a year before I told Francine. Why would anyone believe me, I thought? They would simply think I was crazy. I never had the strength to tell his sister.
Four years ago, I received a message from the Universe that Tom had been reborn and was living in the Bay Area this time as Tommy. It was interesting to me that he chose the same name. I was reminded that he still wanted me to tell his sister that he was ok. I didn’t know how to reach her at that point. Several months ago, I found her on Facebook and sent her s note that I had a message for her and she could contact me if she was interested. I never heard from her and I suppose she wasn’t ready yet. Maybe she will read this story.
Tom’s death changed my life forever. I was sad to see him go and I was mad when he wasn’t there for my wedding and then during my divorce, but I was grateful to have had him in my life. He was a powerful messenger for me which would eventually lead me to dive deeply into my Spiritual Nature. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Universe for bringing him to me.
That was the last story that was told that night. Seventeen years later, Tom still had the last word.
Thank you for reading and Namaste! (The Light in me recognizes the Light in you!)