by Bonnie McEneaney
Reviewed by Theresa Welsh
People of many religions say they believe in the immortality of the soul, but are still reluctant to talk about anything they experience that seems to confirm the continued existence of a deceased loved one. They fear a negative reaction from those around them, that others might tell them they should "get over it" or they should "move on." Even worse, their friends may think they've gone crazy and should see a shrink. Not wanting to jeopardize a career or alienate friends, they never talk about an encounter with someone close to them who has passed on.
Encounters With Those Who "Crossed Over" on 9/11
But friends and families of 9/11 victims HAVE talked to Bonnie McEneany, whose husband Eamon died on 9/11. They have told her about intensely personal experiences and revelations they feel are real proof that their loved ones continue to exist. Some of these contacts involve an actual sighting of the person, who typically appeared transparent and remained for only a very brief moment. In other cases, it was something more subtle, like finding an item that that seemed to appear from nowhere, or the persistent presence of a bird or butterfly, and in some cases it was dreams that were so real or so indicative of the deceased person that it was felt as an actual contact. Many families also consulted psychics and mediums who were able to provide information that could only have come from the deceased.
I was surprised to read about many incidents involving coins. In some cases, people found pennies or quarters with the birth date of the person who perished. Sometimes the coins were found in improbable places. I had not heard of spirits communicating through found coins, but I have heard of lights going on and off as an indication of spirit contact. This book has a number of stories about lights inexplicably blinking on and off. Mediums who have contact with the world of spirit say that spirits can manipulate electricity, and making a light blink is one way they make their presence known.
Wishful Thinking or Real Encounters?
But how many of the stories in the book are of real encounters? Were these experiences nothing more than an unwillingness to face the loss of a loved one? You can count on critics saying these people are just imagining what they want to be true. Others may be more charitable and say that it is fine for those who grieve to take comfort wherever they can find it. But why are we so unwilling to accept that actual contact takes place between the living and the dead? Don't we claim to believe in the immortality of our souls? If we do believe that "life goes on," then isn't it logical that the person who has passed on would continue to care about those left behind? Isn't this likely to be especially true when the death was sudden and unexpected?
Many of the stories in this book involve some sort of awareness or strange sensation on the part of a family member at the moment of the presumed death, some sense, for example, at the time one of the towers collapsed that their husband, son or whoever was sending a message. Mainly the message these people received was taken to mean "I'm OK," although in a physical sense they were far from "OK" - in fact, they had just died. These messages seemed to be motivated by a concern from the deceased that their survivors not think they are totally gone, that survivors should know that their loved ones can still see and communicate with them.
Critics of the existence of an afterlife love to slam mediums and psychics as phonies, but 9/11 survivors often received meaningful messages through their intervention. The author provides the names of those who helped, along with testimony from 9/11 families who consulted them. Some psychics say they had premonitions that something terrible was going to happen concerning the World Trade Center. It seems when there is an impending large loss of life, especially involving unexpected deaths, there is a seismic shift in the psychic field that some can feel.
These are poignant, wrenching stories, sometimes of great bravery near the end. I was especially affected by the story of "the man in the red bandana" - Welles Crowther - who organized the safe evacuation of many others, saving their lives while losing his own. His mother heard the stories of survivors on TV talking about being rescued by a mysterious man wearing a red bandana, Welles' trademark, and she knew it was him. After his death, many people who knew him had experiences of seeing him or feeling his presence, always with a comforting message from him. This young man, who had thought of changing careers to doing something more meaningful - he told his mother he wanted to be a NYC fireman - spent the last moments of his life helping others, then continued to provide comfort from "the other side."
Other Disasters - Other Contacts
There are a number of other books that have similar stories that confirm the 9/11 experiences. Some of these books also involve sudden deaths from a disaster. I recommend two such books by John G. Fuller: The Airmen who Would not Die and The Ghost of Flight 401. These books concern messages from "the other side" after air crashes. I also recommend Letters from the Other Side: With Love, Harry and Helen(see my review of this book). This is a really moving series of letters received through automatic handwriting back in the years following the first World War that paint an interesting picture of how spirits spend their time. For another inspiring vision of life in the spirit world following physical death, try Nosso Lar: A Spiritual Home (see my review), a translation from Portuguese of material from Brazilian medium Francisco Xavier. These last two are available new from Amazon.
Remembering that Terrible Day
September 11, 2001 was a terrible, terrible day, and I'm guessing that you, like me, can remember exactly what you were doing when you learned of airplanes flying into the Word Trade Center. I was at work when a co-worker blurted out that an airplane had hit the WTC. Watching CNN on my computer, I saw the picture of smoke bollowing out of one of the towers. When I learned that it was a commercial airliner that hit the building, I knew this had to be a deliberate act. When I saw the tower fall, I shut down my computer, grabbed my belongings and headed out the door to the parking lot, and all I could think of was getting home to my husband and daughter and being with them. I didn't bother telling my supervisor I was going, I just left. Our country was being attacked, and I could not hold back the tears as I drove home. I did not have any friend or family in the towers or on those airplanes, but I felt the horror of that day, and it is difficult to imagine how bad this must have been for these families who also watched the towers burn and collapse, knowing they had someone dear to them who might still be in the collapsed building. Their strong emotions and desire to hear from their loved ones may have triggered the contact as victims "passed over" in large numbers.
Our mainstream religions do not give us any coherent view of what happens after death, and religious leaders tend to disregard messages from the spirit world, or even condemn them, but it is from these kinds of sources, especially as they seem to corroborate each other, that we can begin to put together a picture of that world, and try to discover how communication can take place. Only when we can be open about spiritual experiences, without fear of ridicule, can we truly gain an understanding of the meaning of physical death, and the meaning of true love that continues beyond the transition to "the other side."