by Matthew Levi Lemberger
It was my father first. He had sent for me and I flew across the country to see him lying in a hospital bed. He had suffered from Parkinson for five years, the stiffening kind, and although his body had betrayed him, his mind was always perfect. Towards the last few years he had difficulty speaking.
When I arrived at the hospital he was either in a coma or a deep sleep. I immediately got quiet and sat in silence in a chair next to his bed. I don’t know how much time had passed but suddenly he awakened and saw me. We talked for a while and he asked me to do one or two things, one of them was to promise to take care of my mother. I said I would and not to worry about it.
Then he said the last thing he was ever to say to me,” Thank you for coming”. I can’t explain why that affected me the way it did, but it was the approval I had been seeking my entire life. With those words I had reached completion as his son.
I flew back home and he passed away soon after. I flew out again for the funeral and my brother and I covered the grave after the services were over.
It was a few days after that. I was staying in my mother’s apartment and that afternoon I was alone when he came to me. How can I describe it? I did not see him but I knew he was there and with my inner eye I could see that he no longer was afflicted.
He didn’t speak but he appeared and I understood that it was to show me that there was this other world. He had not been a religious or spiritual man in any sense of the world. He believed that you need to act in this world to help people. That was all there was to do, but now he came to me perhaps to show me that there was more and that he was all right. I don’t ask you to believe me.
My brother was next. The circumstances of his death are shrouded. He had been ill with heart disease for a few years. He was missing for three days. His wife had called to tell me. A second phone call a day later told me that he had been found in a neighbor’s empty house.
I had the job of telling my mother and this was one of the hardest things in my life. I could not tell her the truth. I lied. I told her he had died of a heart attack. I don’t think she completely believed me but she had to in order to survive without more consuming grief than she was left with.
He was her youngest son and for all he had done in this life, she loved him unconditionally. He had a military funeral since that is what he wanted, for he had been in the army. I suppose I was sort of numb, having many mixed emotions.
Where was I when he came to me? Was I in my mother’s house or back in my own? It was three or four days after the funeral and like my father, he did not speak, but he appeared to me and I knew that what his appearance meant was that he had passed through something and was now all right and that whatever it was that took his life was passed. I was happy to know he was all right and it resolved something for me about his passing and I was now much more at peace about it.
My mother’s visit was different. I was with my mother when she died. My aunt, her sister, had called me to tell me that my mother was not doing well. Her heart was giving her trouble and that I should come if I wanted to see her. I caught a plane the next day and stayed with her for two weeks.
We had watched a travel show one evening and after I had fallen asleep, in the middle of the night she woke me and said,” I think you better call an ambulance,” which I immediately did and I didn’t have time to dress so I just stayed with her.
When the ambulance came, I dressed and caught a cab to the hospital. When I got there they said at the front desk, “Your mother isn’t doing well.” I said, “ You mean she died?” “Yes,” they said.
I went outside to the courtyard and cried. I wanted to cry in private not in public. Then I went back inside and asked where she was. They had put her in a bed in a room and I pulled up a chair and sat next to her. In the ambulance, they had placed a wooden peg in her throat to keep her breathing. It was probably best that I wasn’t there for I would have tried to prevent them doing that. I held her hand and sat with her for a long time. I didn’t cry, but just held her hand. Then I went back to her house.
After the funeral I waited for her to come to see my as my father and brother had but she never appeared. I thought to myself that it was all right. That was just the way it was.
It was a few years later. I was at the end of my divorce, staying with a friend for I no longer had a place of my own. It was on the Sabbath and my friend had gone out for the afternoon. I was reading a book and suddenly felt my mother’s presence. I doubted that the feeling was real, but then, there it was.
She asked me about the divorce. She didn’t use words and I couldn’t see her. I told her that my wife and I hadn’t been getting along for a while, but that I was giving my wife a lot of money. That seemed to end the discussion for she knew that would make my wife happy.
Then I asked her how she was. “I’m with your father and your uncle Yetta and Uncle Ben.” I knew that this meant she was very happy. Then the conversation ended and I wondered if you really could be with your loved ones in the next world.
I don’t have anything more to add. Perhaps I had made a place inside myself for their visits. For myself, I don’t doubt the reality of these experiences. They have helped me enormously to be at peace. They are as real for me as my experiences in this world.
First posted in Subud Creative