This is an absolute true story that happened on 3/17/2011. *(Names have been changed.)
My soul mate. Don*, and partner of many years had passed away quite unexpectedly about a week earlier. Due to a number of circumstances, the funeral was not scheduled until Saturday. Don has a younger brother, Jack, who is mentally challenged. One of his biggest problems is his speech. He is often quite difficult to understand and has problems using the correct pronoun or tense as well as the use of contractions. And while he is capable of telling a lie, it is usually fairly transparent since he lacks the sophistication and ability to plan beyond the initial fabrication.
Six of us were sitting around the kitchen table talking about Don, including Jack and his girlfriend, Jill; his sister Karen and her fiancé Tim; another sister Mandy, and myself. Don had been the oldest of seven kids and Jack, the youngest, was 17 years younger. After both of the parents passed, Don became the surrogate father in many respects, so Jack was taking his brother’s death very hard and was moping at the table. Mandy asked him what was wrong and he said that Don was trying to get into his body. He grabbed his shoulder blade and said Don was trying to push himself into Jack’s body.
We asked him if he wanted to let Don come into his body and he said he thought he had to let him in. So we all told him to go ahead. He said he would, then stood up and walked to the kitchen sink. At this point, Jack’s entire demeanor and posture changed. He stood straight up and walked to the cabinet where he kept his medication. He opened the door and asked where his pills were. Then he looked at the table and all of us and asked why all of us were there. As he looked around and saw Jill, he asked where Jack was.
As he asked these questions, his speech was much clearer than normal and his gestures were more like those of Don. He asked these questions a couple of times until several of us realized that Don was unaware that he was dead. Mandy looked at me and said someone had to tell him. I began by asking him what he remembered. He said he remembered going to play bridge Tuesday night, then coming home and taking out the garbage cans for pickup on Wednesday morning. (We had pieced this much info together from various sources and Jack was aware of it.)
Don said he remembered going to bed and watching the TV. Then I asked him what happened next. He said that he must have fallen asleep. I asked if he remembered anything after that and he thought for a few seconds. Then he said “I died??? Aww shit, I’m dead???” We waited a few seconds, then I asked him where he was now. He thought about that, and then said he was in heaven. We asked if he had seen anyone yet and he said he had seen his mom and dad. One of his sisters asked how they looked. Don said “She looks fantastic! You wouldn’t even recognize her. And dad looks good.”
(As I had said earlier, much of this language was completely inconsistent with the way Jack would have said it or the words he would have used. Plus, during the entire conversation, not once did he deviate from first person.)
He then told us he had seen several other deceased relatives as well. Then he walked over to me and said “Stand up dear.” (Another issue with Jack is the inability to pronounce the letter s at the beginning of a word when it is followed by a consonant.) He then hugged me around the shoulders and said “I am so sorry for leaving you like this. Are you going to be okay?” (When Jack hugs other adults, he always puts his arms around the other person's waist, probably because this is what he did as a child and never made the transition as he grew up. Don was six inches taller than me, so always hugged me around the shoulders.) Then he told me he loved me very much.
Next, he went up to each of the people at the table and gave them a hug and talked to each person individually. He told us to tell his other siblings who were not present that he loved them. He made us all promise to help take care of Jack. I told him I wanted to ask him something privately. We went into another room and I asked him if he remembered what we had done on Valentines Day. He said he did and I asked him what it was. He said we had gone out, but had argued about where to go. This is something only the two of us would know and not something he had related to Jack.
We went back into the kitchen and he sat back at the table and suddenly put his hand to his head, right behind his ear. He said “I hear the bell. I have to go back now. God only gave me ten minutes.” When we checked the clock, it had indeed been just about ten minutes since this had started. Then he stood back up and said he heard the bell again and had to go and was going to send Jack back now. His sister Mandy had stood up at this point and was near where Don was standing. As he said he was sending Jack back, Jack completely collapsed in his sister’s arms.
We helped him into a chair, but he remained unresponsive for about 10 or 15 more seconds. He suddenly raised his head and asked us what had happened. At first he said he didn’t remember anything, then said he vaguely remembered opening the cabinet and asking what we were doing there, but then nothing until after he heard the bell. He said Don then told him he loved him and gave him a big hug, then he blacked out.
We spent the next hours trying to relate to Jack what had happened. He kept asking why Don had used his body and how did we know it was Don and not him. We kept explaining to him that it was a gift that God had given Don to be able to come back and say goodbye and that he had allowed him to use Jack to do it because only someone pure of heart would be able to accept a spirit. It took several more days and numerous repetitions of the same questions before he was finally able to come to terms with it. He finally told me he was at peace with it.
Of the others sitting at the table, Tim said had he not been there and seen it with his own eyes, he would be somewhat skeptical of the story. But he knew Jack well enough, and we all agreed that there was absolutely no way that he could have faked something like that. Even if he had been able to plan this out ahead of time, we had all asked him random questions during the conversation. He had to come up with answers on the fly, which is something he is just not capable of doing. .And even if he could have, he would never have done that to his family.
I have always believed in God and an afterlife, but any small doubts I may have had are gone. I know Don is in heaven and at peace. He got to say goodbye to me and I got to say goodbye to him. I miss him terribly and now have to deal with my grief. But it does give me a measure of peace to know he is in heaven and watching over me.