Throughout our lives we are blessed with spiritual experiences, some of which are private, and others which should be told. Last summer my family had a spiritual experience that has had a lasting and profound impact on us, one we feel must be shared.
Early last summer I was flying across the country on a business trip. When I got off the plane, a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said, "Sir, there is an emergency at your home. I have been given a special number for you to call."
My call was put through to the trauma center of the hospital in my hometown. They told me that my three-year-old son had been crushed beneath the automatic garage door, and that when my wife found him, he was dead. A neighbor had performed CPR anyway, and the paramedics had continued the treatment as Brian was rushed to the hospital. By the time of my call, Brian had miraculously revived. The doctors now thought that he would live, although they still did not know how much damage had been done.
The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. Nothing could have prepared me to see my little son lying in a hospital bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. It all seemed like a terrible dream.
By the next day we were told that he had no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine our gratitude and joy when we took him home the next day.
A month later, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, "Sit down, Mommy. I have something to tell you." At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to hear him say a large sentence surprised my wife. She sat down on his bed and he began his remarkable story.
"Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn't hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the birdies came."
"The birdies?" my wife asked, puzzled.
"Yes," he replied. "The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me."
My wife realized that a three-year-old had no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to him from beyond as "birdies" because they were up in the air like birds that fly. "What did the birdies look like?" she asked.
Brian answered, "They were beautiful. They were dressed all in white."
"Did they say anything?"
"Yes," he answered. "They told me the baby would be all right."
"The baby?" my wife asked, confused.
Brian answered, "The baby laying on the garage floor." He went on. "You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave."
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed knelt beside Brian's body and whispered, "Don't leave us, Brian. Please stay if you can." As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that his spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form. "Then what happened?" she asked.
"We went on a trip, "he said. "Far, far away."
He struggled to find the words for what he wanted to say. "We flew so fast up in the air. They're so pretty, Mommy," he added. "And there are lots and lots of birdies."
He said the birdies brought him back to the house, and that a big fire truck and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed, and Brian tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay, but the man couldn't hear him. Brian said the birdies told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be nearby. He said they were so pretty and so peaceful that he didn't want to come back. Then the bright light came. He said that the light was bright and warm. Someone was in the bright light and put his/her arms around him. "I love you, but you have to go back. You have to play baseball and tell everyone about the birdies." Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye-bye.
Then whoosh! A big sound came and the birdies went into the clouds. Brian told us that birdies are always with us, but we don't see them because we look with our eyes. And we don't hear them because we listen with our ears. You can only see them and hear them in here (he put his hand over his heart).
Brian continued, "I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We must all live our plan and keep our promises. The birdies help us to do that 'cause they love us so much."
Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the birdies. Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely. Rather, the people he told got a softened look on their faces and smiled. Needless to say, we have not been the same since that day, and I pray we never will be.
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