One example of this dilemma occurred when I was nine years old. Early one morning, I floated out of my body, through the bedroom window and down into the back yard to find my grandfather standing between what appeared to be two angels. As I approached, I began to cry. Sensing my fear, my grandfather gently told me, "Don't be upset, I'm not going to take you with me. I have come to say goodbye." Then he whispered, "Take good care of your brothers and baby sister," before floating up and disappearing into a wide band of white light.
At school I felt the palpable presence of my grandfather and on arriving back home, I knew what to expect. My mother was there to meet me urging, “Be quiet, your father is very upset. Your grandfather died early this morning.” Although I wanted to comfort my father, I was afraid of sharing what I had experienced in case I had somehow been an accomplice to my grandfather’s death and would get into trouble. Later, as an adult, when I eventually shared this with my father, he said, “I wish you’d told me. I wish you’d told me. I wish you’d told me.”
In 1994, while living on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, dear friends lost their four-year-old son in a drowning accident. Blond, bright-eyed and bubbling with life, Taylor had been running around the perimeter of the pool while his parents were inside, unpacking after a day out boating. Taylor could swim well. He had been taking lessons ever since he was able to crawl and he loved the water, but that day he tripped over a hose, hit his head on the tile and fell unconscious, face down into the pool. By the time he was discovered he was close to death, finally succumbing a few days later.
The trauma of this event was overwhelming and his parents were understandably inconsolable. This time, having learned from the words of my father, I shared my experiences of life after death in the hope of offering solace. Then unexpectedly a couple of weeks later, Taylor came to visit with his own, more personal message. In a lucid dream, I found myself standing alone in a vast, light-filled space. Suddenly Taylor bounced in. Overjoyed, I said, “Taylor, how wonderful to see you! How are you?” Jumping up and down he replied, “Oh, fine. Tell Mommy and Daddy I love the tree.” With that, he turned and skipped away as suddenly as he had arrived and I was rapidly pulled back to waking.
A short while later I phoned Taylor’s father John. Making sure to describe every aspect, gesture and detail as accurately as I could, John finally drew a long, slow breath and then told me, “After Taylor’s funeral my wife Anne and I flew out to our home in North Carolina. It was a place Taylor absolutely loved. We decided to buy a small tree as a way of honoring Taylor’s life, planting it in the exact spot Taylor used to play. We found a carpenter and commissioned him to make a plaque inscribed with the words, ‘TAYLOR’S TREE.’
Taylor’s gift to us all was priceless. For his parents, here was authentic proof that Taylor was aware of their prayers, intentions and actions, and for me, Taylor helped me take a few steps closer to finding my authentic voice.