On a recent evening in early August, I was lying in bed with my earphones on and my tablet (a device that allows you to access the Internet) looking for something calming to fall asleep to. Then, out of the blue, I had a strong impulse to do a Google search for a man from my past that had died about fifteen years earlier. I will call him “Bill”. At first, I brushed it off because honestly, I did not want to relive some of my memories of him. He was very abusive towards me as a child but later as adults we were friends and he often confided in me about his marital problems which were real and unfortunate. At one time Bill had thought about becoming a priest but had a bad experience with one as a young adult. Bill later left the church and married a woman primarily because she was attractive physically and had a seductive appeal. Of course, over time, with no real mission to the marriage Bill felt very alone and disconnected having only that superficial connection of her younger alluring beauty now faded. I had attended Bill’s burial.
The memory of him going into the ground and left alone on the hillside saddened me especially when I would pray for him on All Souls Day.
Again, I had the urge to look him up on the Internet. It felt like a “Holy Spirit tap on the shoulder” so I gave in even though I thought that 11:35 at night was too late for Google searches.
With trepidation I slowly typed in his name afraid of what I might find. Up popped his obituary.
I read it over recognizing some of the names of his survivors one of which was his wife. I heard that she moved to the south (over a thousand miles away) after the funeral and that shortly thereafter she was eager for a new husband even though she was in her late sixties. Again, I thought of Bill alone on the hill. As I read the obituary the date of his death caught my attention.
August 5th, hmmm, what is today? I got up out of bed to look at the calendar on my refrigerator.
As I walked toward the kitchen I had a sense of growing disbelief. I felt like I already knew what was coming.
Is today the anniversary of Bill’s death? If you had asked me when he died a few minutes earlier I could not have told you the day, month, or year! I followed the dates on the calendar with my finger and there it was August 5. Today! This could only mean one thing. I must pray for Bill and pray for him NOW because the clock is steadily ticking toward midnight and it is already 11:45! I prayed for Bill with more vigor, concentration, and sincerity than ever before.
God if I have any extra grace accumulated please give it to Bill. I lifted-up to God Bill’s life from the time he was conceived, then as an infant, a child, a teenager, a young and older adult begging God to fix everything in Bill’s history and make it right. I knew that God could go into what we call history and fix it because God is the great “I AM”. For God, the past, present, and future exists simultaneously (Exo 3:14). Once again, I begged God to give to Bill any extra grace
I might have. Then, with a wink and a smile I said to Bill in my heart, you better hurry up and get into heaven before I change my mind.
Afterwards I went to sleep and didn’t think of the experience again. Two weeks later I was lying in bed at about 11 p.m. I put on my headphones and some calm music. I shut my eyes and opened my heart to pray. Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw a face coming towards me. I knew it was Bill even though it didn’t look like his earthly self. He looked like a white spirit. He drew closer and closer with a huge smile. Surprised to see him I said with a wink and a smile, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in heaven? His response was beyond beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes, joy to my heart, and Holy Ghost goose bumps.
“I came back to thank you”, he said. Then his smiling face retreated the same way he came. I never thought, nor dreamed it was possible, that someone who died could ever thank me for my prayers.