Do you believe in life after death? There’s a new movie coming out that explores the belief in heaven and how one boy went there and came back. It seems like a feel-good movie that Christians will LOVE, but it also seems a bit heavy handed. But what about accounts of paranormal encounters with recently deceased loved ones? Are they real, or just tricks played on us by our brains on the brink of emotional breakdown?
Daily I walk along that hospital corridor which runs from the accident and emergency department to the pathology block and the mortuary and I can recall every step of that short journey with the hospital chaplain and a policeman for the identification procedure. Alasdair was lying with only his face and head exposed. I was surprised how cold he was already, but it was January. His pupils were fixed and dilated; I can confirm this as I tested them myself.
There has never been an adequate explanation for the accident as the key participants have no memory of it. My next thoughts were of the next morning’s clinic which I could not face. I telephoned my friend and colleague, Jumbo Jenner, to ask him to say I would not be there. He was with me in a flash and he plied me generously with whisky and brandy that night until I could sleep.
My wife and daughter spent the next two months in hospital and we were all surrounded by many supporters who warded off our insanity. Excessive visiting was a major problem. We often heard the next knock on the door with dread, usually when my wife and I were trying to grab a few minutes of mutual rationalisation and psychotherapy. More paranormal phenomena? Only one. I awoke at home two days after the accident and felt Alasdair’s knees in my back, nestling up warm and solid, as he sometimes did on weekend mornings even at 12 years old. I turned to cuddle him but as I turned the knees disappeared. This was not a dream sequence. Dreams were traumatic: walking through a wood I saw Alasdair sitting under a tree.
“Daddy, I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”
The dream unnerved me and still does. Could there be an after life and could he be searching for us, worried and confused? He had never had any sense of direction, which was a family standing joke. When we lived in the United States he had managed to lose himself at the top of the John Hancock Tower.
Crisp, A.J. “A father’s worst nightmare.” British Medical Journal 19 Dec. 1992: 1581+.