Image from Wikipedia: “European Robin”
John in Stoke-on-Trent, England, recently retired from his career in palliative and end-of-life care. He would sit overnight with people in their own homes. “Many times I was there at the very end,” he writes.
Often during his vigils, John would have something with him to read. “This particular night I was reading about dream visitations from loved ones. The book suggested that, before you go to sleep, you should ask your loved one to come and visit you in your dream.
“When I got home from my night sit and went to bed, I asked my Mum or Dad to come to me if they could.” John says what followed was a “stark and vivid dream:”
“My wife and I were in a street next to where we actually live in real life. My wife said, ‘Look, there’s your Mum.’ I turned and saw her coming out of a house. I ran over to her and we hugged, then she said, ‘I love you.’ My wife then came and hugged my Mum, and I said, ‘Come back to the house,’ but she said no, that she had lots to do. Then she was gone.”
John says he bolted awake, deeply affected by the dream. “I was so happy because I knew my Mum had answered my plea. I have no doubt whatsoever about that.”
John’s Dad didn’t come in a dream, but he made himself known in a meaningful way all the same.
“This particular afternoon, I was lying on the bed listening to my iPod,” writes John. “It had several hundred songs and I had set them to play randomly. My mind drifted to thoughts of my dad and a song that had meant a lot to both of us from the time I was very young: I Left My Heart in San Francisco sung by Tony Bennett. Aloud I said, ‘Do you remember our song, Dad?’ The song that was playing came to an end, and the next one to come on was Tony Bennett singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
John and his wife Janette have had experiences that add credence to folklore that the departed can sometimes communicate with those left behind through physical objects such as coins or feathers. One day, as they drove to a local shopping area, he and Janette were having a conversation about the possibility that angels can leave coins. There were very few cars around as they parked and exited their vehicle.
“Janette got out of the passenger side and saw several coins on the ground, which amazed us, as we had just been having that particular conversation. She picked them all up and we went into the shop. When we came back out a few minutes later, no additional cars had arrived but there were more coins by her passenger door.”
Another day, he and Janette found two ten-pence coins. “I can’t remember now where we found them, but I know it was a place you wouldn’t normally find coins,” John writes. “I’m not sure why, but I asked Janette what years were stamped on the coins. She said one was from 1992 and the other 2008. My Mum passed away in 1992 and my mother-in-law in 2008.”
On the morning of a memorial for Janette’s mother, she and John reminisced about her as he drove Janette to work at a local shop. “It was early and there were no customers, so she was on her own filling the shelves and feeling sad, thinking of her Mum. Suddenly, a small white feather came floating down right in front of her face,” says John, who believes this was a symbol of love from mother to daughter.
And this was not the only experience with a white feather. A couple of nights before his daughter’s wedding in the summer of 2017, John stopped by his office with some paperwork. Then he got back into his car for the drive home. “It was a warm night, so I had both windows open in the front. As I drove, I thought about the wedding and how lovely it was going to be. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small white feather come through the passenger window and fall very slowly until it settled on the passenger seat.” He took this as assurance that someone else agreed.
A few years ago Zoe, a friend of John’s daughter Claire, died of breast cancer. Soon after, his daughter came for a visit, and they talked about the sad loss. “I said to Claire that every woman should check herself for cancer. The words had hardly left my lips when directly in my eyeline a wicker heart that hung on a ribbon from a hook on the living room door fell to the floor. I went to the heart, expecting the ribbon to be broken, but everything was intact.” This left them considering whether this sudden call for their attention was confirmation from Zoe that Claire should heed her father’s advice.
But John and his family’s experiences with the dearly departed have not been exclusively with humans. There was the beloved cat Dexter, who died during surgery for a tumor. “That was nine in the morning,” says John. “We were all very upset. About noon that same day, my daughter and I were talking about Dexter and feeling very sad. Suddenly I heard a funny noise and asked Claire if she could hear it, too. That was when we realized it was white noise coming from the radio. It had turned itself on. There was no talking or music, just static. We knew this was Dexter letting us know he was OK. The radio had never done that before and has not done it since.”
Then, there was Billy, the rescue cat the family had taken in five years earlier. “He had been very poorly but we nursed him back to health. We loved him deeply. Sadly, one of our neighbours poisoned him with antifreeze and he passed away.”
John says that sometime later, things began to happen in bed at night, where Billy had made a habit of sleeping. One night John and his wife felt something walking over their feet and thought it must be Billy.
“Eventually, I started to ask him to come and visit us. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn’t.”
At one point, though, John went to hospital for a hip replacement. On his first night home, the wound from surgery was giving him a lot of pain. “I asked Billy to come to me, then went to sleep and awoke sometime later. My wife was asleep and I just lay there not thinking about anything in particular. Then, all of a sudden, I felt a thud on the bed and my wound started to pulsate for about thirty seconds. Then it began to itch ferociously for the same amount of time. I began to realize that I was being given a healing by my beloved cat.”
John and Janette have felt Billy on their bed many times since he passed away. One night, John had gone to bed and left his wife and daughter watching television downstairs. There were lights turned on, both in the kitchen and the living room, which are separated by a glass paneled door. Suddenly, Janette became aware of the huge figure of a cat filling the glass in the doorway. “It had a large body and tail and a huge head,” says John. Janette told Claire what she was seeing, so Claire walked toward the door and the cat began to get smaller, “as if it were deflating.” By the time Claire had reached the door, the apparition had disappeared.
The following night, John went to work at one of the local hospitals and, before beginning his duties, began a conversation with a switchboard operator he hadn’t met before. “I told her about the cat figure in the door and that Billy visits us regularly.” John was surprised when she told him she was a psychic medium. “She told me that, in her opinion, that visit was Billy showing us his power—which made sense to me.”
John has often felt Billy’s weight on the bed after asking him to visit, and they’ve talked about it as a family. “We wonder if Billy is always with us, or if he whizzes down from heaven, or if he knows in advance I’m going to ask him to come. It blows our minds, really.”
A couple of years ago, Janette was diagnosed with heart failure. One day, prior to a medical appointment, she and John arrived at the hospital and parked the car. “As we walked along the path, a robin landed in front of us, and it was looking at us. We continued walking and it seemed to be following us. It landed, again, in front of us and looked up at us. Then it flew onto a nearby branch. I went up and said hello. It had no fear at all. There were other people around, but it was definitely focusing on us.
“I said to Janette, somebody is with us. We are both great believers in that.”
The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.