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JANUARY 17, 2013 3:14AM

The Visitation

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Thanks to a recent post by blogger Robert Isenberg, I’m reading a fascinating book called Fringe-ology   How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable – and Couldn’t.

Written by a journalist named Steve Volk, it’s an unbiased, clear-eyed look at what’s collectively known as “the paranormal.”  Volk turns his reporter’s eye on psychics, UFOs, near-death experiences, ghosts and telepathy among other things.   As a reader, I appreciate not only the open-minded way he approaches his subjects but his ability to admit he can’t be sure one way or the other when he confronts the unexplainable, rather than drawing conclusions based on what science calls true or false.  He’s willing to say, “I don’t know.”

Reading Fringe-ology reminded me of certain things that have happened to me, the kind of things that, if they’d happened to someone else and then I’d read about them, might cause me to be skeptical.  One of the problems in relating something that’s outside the realm of proof is that often it doesn’t lend itself well to a retelling.  Something critical gets lost in the translation.  

Also, the words sound silly.   "Visitation."  "Crossing over."  "Out-of-body experience."  "Reincarnation." "The other side of the veil." Even "paranormal."  It sounds too much like "abnormal."  It's easy to get dismissed right out of the gate when you try to talk about things like this - which is why most people, including myself, don't.

Still, with the near-miraculous resurrection of OS it seems as good a time as any to share my own paranormal event because it was quite miraculous for me.  All these years later it still has that same quality when I think about it.

And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  My mother-in-law will probably not make it through the night thanks to advanced emphysema.  The following story involves her son. I have no doubt he’s waiting for her and he’ll be the first one to greet her when she finally pushes aside the very thin veil that separates this world from the next.


The night of Sunday, May 14, 2000 was the darkest of my life. I had to be at the hospital at 6 a.m. Monday morning for the scheduled C-section of my fourth child.  I was in my two-year-old son’s second-floor bedroom having just put him to bed and I was pacing, crying and praying out loud.  My husband Keith had died exactly three weeks before and I honestly didn’t know if I could have a baby without him any more than I could picture the bizarre new life I was facing.  I couldn’t see any future for me at all and I was terrified I’d lose my mind forever once I got to the hospital.  Having this baby by myself was going to make it undeniably real.

I paced in my son’s bedroom all night, increasingly frantic and fearful until sometime in the early a.m. hours I had what I can only describe as a confirmation.  Suddenly I knew Keith would be in the operating room with me.  I didn’t hear a voice, there was no apparition telling me to expect him and I had no idea in what way he’d be there; I just knew it in the same way I knew if I pinched myself, it would hurt.  The knowledge calmed me enough that I was able to sit in a rocking chair for the remainder of the night and rock instead of pace.

Keith’s two sisters took me to the hospital.  During the preparations for the main event I wondered how he was going to make his appearance and I briefly worried it wouldn’t happen.   Then I remembered that feeling and I knew I was wrong.

The C-section was well underway and my sisters-in-law were on either side of me, each gripping one of my hands.  I was lying there looking at the ceiling when I instinctively knew he’d arrived.  Something told me to close my eyes.

As soon as I did, it was as though I’d flipped onto my stomach and was leaning on my elbows, chin propped on my fists.  I was staring toward the back of the OR which was in shadow.  Contrasting with the darkness was what seemed to be a spotlight illuminating a man sitting in an armless straight-backed chair. He looked like he was about to perform a one-man play.  It was Keith.

His  head was in his hands and his shoulders were shaking.  I couldn’t see his face.  I could tell he was sobbing although I couldn’t hear him.  Forming a semi-circle behind him were people; I’m not sure how many because they were in shadow but I knew they were all of our friends and relatives who’d passed on.  Each one had a hand on Keith’s shoulders; they were patting him and I could hear a low murmur. 

Even though I couldn’t see his face, he appeared to be worn-out.  The overall effect was of a man who’d been working hard and hadn’t gotten much rest.  His hair was too long; it looked the way it did when he was too busy to buzz it.  It hadn’t been that long when he’d died.  

He was wearing his beater shoes, old grass-stained brown leather deck shoes that he wore when he worked in the yard. Ditto for his jeans; they were the worn-out ones he donned when he did chores.

But I was transfixed by his shirt. It was a coral-colored semi-dressy thing, the first article of clothing I’d ever bought him right after we’d started dating.  As soon as I saw it I knew it would look good on him and I was right.  He loved it so much he wore it out.  He’d tossed it years ago and I’d forgotten all about it.  Until now. 

I tried to grasp what I was seeing; nothing made sense.  It appeared everyone had come for the birth of our baby, not just Keith, and it should have been a joyous event.  Something was wrong and I became alarmed.  In my mind I screamed at him, Look at me!  Tell me what’s wrong and look at me!

He answered me but not with words.   I sensed something coming toward me, from him; an approaching wave.  It washed over me, I could feel it, and it came again and again.  For a moment it shocked me because the feeling was so deep and it was both physical and mental - yet it wasn’t my own.  Then I knew:  It was sorrow.  His sorrow.  I was feeling his sorrow at not being present for the birth of our baby. 

It was terrible. I started to panic and he made it stop.  Again, I screamed at him, Look at me!  Why won’t you look at me?  He answered by sending another wave.  It rolled over my entire body, over and over like the first one and it was worse than when I’d felt his sorrow.  It was so intense if I’d been sitting up it would have knocked me over.  And then I knew why he couldn’t look at me.  I was feeling his shame.  Keith was ashamed of himself for what he’d done.  For dying when he did.

I know firsthand what both sorrow and shame feel like and I can feel empathy for someone else experiencing the same things.  This was entirely different.  These feelings penetrated my entire body, all the way to the cellular level.  I could taste them.  They were pure, unadulterated, heavy, awful, shocking.  I wanted them to stop because I couldn’t bear them and more than that, I wanted them to stop because I knew they had to be so much worse for him. 

It seemed to go on for a while but it couldn’t have because a C-section doesn’t take that long.  I felt as though I was using up everything I had screaming at him, telling him he didn’t have to be ashamed and begging him to look at me.   His shoulders just shook harder and he covered his face with his hands.  The murmuring got louder and the people behind him moved closer, as though to protect him.  I couldn’t stand it and started to cry; I didn’t realize I was really crying until my sisters-in-law squeezed my hands, patted me and said, “It’s okay, it’s almost over.” 

Then I heard the wails of my baby and it was.


That incident or visitation is as clear to me today as it was almost 13 years ago.  I remember it exactly as it happened, with a clarity unlike any other important event, such as the birth of any of my children.  Vacations.  My wedding.  Even my husband’s funeral.  There was nothing dreamlike, hazy or ambiguous about it.  It was hyper-real.

It was also disturbing, upsetting and nothing like what I’d hoped for.  If I’d been allowed to stage it, I’d have gone with warm and fuzzy.  He would’ve appeared above me and smiled sadly while mouthing the words “I love you.” 

Yet the way it happened was better for several reasons.  Until that moment, I hadn’t thought at all about Keith other than how his dying affected my children and me.  It never occurred to me that his own death might have affected him too.  I’ve always believed in an afterlife but my assumption was that the dead, relieved of earthly concerns, viewed the living with love but also with amusement and maybe even relief, at being done with life.

Now I had to rethink my whole notion of “heaven” as a state of perpetual bliss because I was worried for him.  Even though he was surrounded by people he loved and who loved him, it wasn’t enough. 

I also had to consider that the sweet hereafter might not be so sweet; from the way Keith looked, he wasn’t spending much time reclining on a cloud, remote in hand, watching eternal ESPN.  He looked haggard and exhausted.

Finally, I feel like I glimpsed a miniscule bit of what it’s like to be the author of my being – and everyone else’s.  If it’s true God knows every aspect of us, everything about us, has counted every hair on every single person’s head who’s ever lived, and if it’s true he feels our pain, our sorrow, our grief - what a terrible job it is to be him.  Those brief moments that I felt another person’s sorrow and shame were unbearable.  I feel sorry for God.  Irrational as it sounds, I worry about him a little bit.  How long can you take it, even if you’re God?


For me, this experience was proof there’s life after death and it’s more complicated than anything I’d ever imagined.  It didn’t turn me into a religious fanatic, change me or make me a better person.  What it did do was force me to think harder about organized religion and humanity, re-examine my own spiritual beliefs and open my mind to ways of thinking I’d never have considered before.  More than anything, it was a profound learning experience and in that regard it was anything but paranormal. 


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Thank you so much for sharing this visit with us. Tonight I am awake at 2am with the wind howling outside and shaking the world. Everything we know can be turned around and upsidedown. You and Keith went through so much and will continue to do so. Life doesn't really seem to end. I hope your mother in law finds some peace. I like the idea that they are all together helping each other on the other side. It isn't easy.
You have developed enough credibility for me to buy this.

You also bring an interesting dimension to theology:

Sympathy for God, particularly as a motivator. We in Judaism call it repairing the world. You might call it Lightening His Load.
My usual stance on such matters is skepticism, but your well told tale leaves me scratching my head. I choose to think that after-death is either a peaceful after-life or oblivion. I am okay with either scenario. You convincingly portray a third and troubling scenario: that our cares, concerns and troubles follow us beyond the pale. R
Ever since I was a child and discovered I had a sixth sense of sorts, it's amazed me over the years, even as I've gotten older and more jaded, about the parallel existences out there. There is shit going on that some people will never know of in this life, or will refuse to believe.

Thank you for this.

Hey Margaret! What is this? A guy takes a break from OS and now you top me in writing on the paranormal and fascinating? ;). Rated...but don't let it happen again, ok????
Very interesting and touching.

I had two hyper-real dreams of a couple of people after their deaths, one my first husband and the second a friend. They haven't made me believe in an after-life, but at least moved me from non-believer to agnostic.
However it happened, I'm glad he was there for you. Well told.
Margaret, thank you for sharing this. It sounds like a remarkable experience. I have had two what I call "visions" in my life, that were not nearly like this, but enough to make me think about what else is out there. I hope you have found peace.

There's more to life than life. I'm glad you enjoyed this; I was hesitatnt to share it.


I'm not familiar with the specifics of Judaism but a long long time ago Bill Cosby did a serious monologue and at the end of it he said "God bless God." It seemed like such a contradictory idea - God needing his own blessing - but it always stuck with me.


I'm not sure the afterlife scenario means we drag our earthly cares and concerns over there with us - but it must be an adjustment process and we still retain our essence. I've had other things happen to me since this one that confirm (for me) that it's a pretty nifty place. If it wasn't what would the point be?


You're welcome!
I'd love to know how you know this stuff. Anything to do with your s/n?
My rational mind doesn't easily grasp stories like yours, Margaret, but from the tears in my eyes I know something got hold of this one. I remember another story of yours, meeting Keith's spirit in a favorite place you two had. That one reached my heart as well.

I thought you came around only during October! I don't think of this experience in the same context as the subjects you write about. There was nothing other-worldly or spooky about it; it also played out in a perfectly logical way.


Thanks so much.


There's a lot of wiggle room isn't there. Are you certain they were dreams? I'm just curious.


Thanks, jl; as I said in the post, although he was there, it wasn't in a way I'd have ever imagined or expected.


Funny you should mention finding peace; I suppose I have found it but it took a long time and it was not the direct result of this experience or the others that followed. Sometimes when you get what you think you want, it results in more questions than answers.


You bring up some interesting sub-topics related to life after death. I'm not familiar with cultures who don't believe in speaking the recently deceased's name or who advocate not thinking about the one who died except to wish them well. This sounds like the antithesis of the normal grieving process to me though; almost like telling the bereaved to "get over it." It seems almost cruel - can you imagine expecting the parents of a murdered child, for example to not think about their child or say his name?

I have heard that the living may be holding the dead back from their "soul growth" when we mourn them or think too much about them. I don't buy it; it would seem to mean they're anxious to forget about us and eager to be on their way. If eternity awaits, then what's the rush?

As far as Keith projecting my feelings back to me, I know for sure that wasn't true. They were definitely his emotions, emanating from him and sent to me. And that illustrates the problem with a story like the above; I can't prove it. But I do feel like over there is a lot like it is here., minus cravings for chocolate and coffee of course.


I wasn't part of that story you remember; it involved his cousin who died before Keith did. The favorite place was a park that his cousin's sister and her husband visited frequently.
For absolutely no reason my father got up in the middle of a Bridge game walked to the pier and pulled my drowning little brother out of the ocean. My grandfather whispered in my ear and the pain stopped before I went to the doctor for an ear infection when I was 8. Yet, the most powerful spiritual experience I ever had was at the bottom of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Before and since I have experienced many instances that I can never explain; none of which I consider religious.

So do I believe in paranormal activity/unknown energy/universal consciousness, of course I do. May be one day science with step up to the challenge. Enjoyed this read very much, Margaret. R
Great story. One thing that might ease the mystery is that what you experienced may not be the same as what your husband was experiencing, just like subjective experience among the living.

We count our blessings when we have such experiences, but what they mean is something beyond our understanding. I think the best way to look at it is we get what we need.

In 1976, I was doing some intense kundalini yoga exercises at a 3HO ashram, and had an experience of intense universal love that lasted about 12 hours. The aftereffects lasted several days. Knowledge came to me at that time, so I understand what you mean. It isn't knowledge that I still possess, but I remember what it was like. Ever since then love is a common experience, though mild compared to that day.

One thing I glean from your experience is connection. Some people live very connected lives, and some don't. Traditional cultures are very connected, but they are being squeezed away by the dominance of industrial societies. I think to live a life of great connection in this day and age is a great gift. Connection to the Beyond is something to treasure.
I was in hospital on Christmas Day, I woke up sitting on a Back porch at my Father's house in the country, elevated enough to overlook the wild overgrowth of the back yard and see over the back fence. Everybody was just waiting there- but not time to go there yet.

As real and "sensual" and experience as any I've had.

But then, as a programmer of computer games, it makes perfect sense to me that we program our own lives, our own deaths, and our own experience of both.

Nothing you can imagine is "Supernatural", unless you mean "Super" in the sense of "as natural as it gets"
This is a mind-blowing account of something that is not explainable.

Those are all very cool stories. I wonder, what compelled your father to get up when he did and leave the bridge game. Did he ever say? I'm sure many would explain it away as coincidence but that hardly does it justice; if only coincidence worked that way all the time. Btw, science is stepping up to the challenge; you might want to check out the book I mentioned that prompted me to write this (Fringe-ology, by Steve Volk).


Thanks for reading. As far as "easing the mystery" goes - there really was no mystery to this. It was sort of the equivalent of him tossing a ball and me catching it. He threw his feelings at me and I caught them.

You mention connection . You'd think two people being connected might play a big role in something like this and yet the lack of it was what made it even more improbable and therefore, more amazing. You'd think this is the kind of thing that happens to "soul mates" or best friends or maybe a couple that's been married for 50 years. We were none of the above. We loved each other but we were very different and toward the end (leading up to his death) there was a definite disconnect. He was far more spiritual than I was; until this, I was a "by the book" meaning by the Good Book kind of person. I felt no particular tie to the beyond or to anything greater than myself. It was all by rote for me, which is why, as I've reflected on it over time, this was so magnificent. I had to take on complete faith that Keith would be there when I had absolutely no basis for believing it.

Herr der Rude,

I love the way you put this: "Nothing you can imagine is "Supernatural", unless you mean "Super" in the sense of "as natural as it gets""


It brings to mind Hamlet's words to Horatio:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
You need not worry about telling this story. The emotional power conveyed will give pause to even the most skeptical.
As I can tell you even from business:

Just because you don't have the means to quantify it doesn't mean it isn't there.

Not a question of magic, just a question of insufficient data.
You have made me into a believer...
........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★R
Thank you for sharing this...

Thank you; it's hard to tell a story like this without either sounding like a nut or trying to persuade anyone.


No, no magic. I can't quantify it and I don't feel the need to, any more than I can quantify any other meaningful experience I've ever had.


And you have made my day!!!! I wasn't trying to make a believer out of anyone though. Wasn't trying to do anything although if reading this gave a reader a little bit of hope or confirmed for someone who'd had a similar experience that they weren't crazy - then I'm happy.


Happy to have done so.