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Allen J's ADC

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Experience description:  

My father was a much-loved, talented man with a good heart and character.  Sadly, he was plagued by recurring acute anxiety and depression. This was before the days of effective psychotropic medications. The only treatment at the time was electric shock therapy. He used to have to be hospitalized periodically for such treatments. Thankfully, they were effective and would
hold him in balance for several years at a time until his illness would recur, and the cycle would be repeated. The effect of his illness was to undermine his confidence and leave him in a position of weakness. He related well to his friends but was passive as a father. He loved me and my sister but was not very demonstrative. This meant that, as I grew up, I really had no effective
role model. Needless to say, my dad and I had unfinished business.

My dad died at his home in Alabama. I had come from my home in Vermont to be with him and my mom during the final weeks of his illness. I was in the next room, asleep when he died. I had watched him go through a long, wasting struggle with cancer and die without facing his death. The fact that he never faced his death seemed a confirmation of his inability to deal with life. I had done most of my grieving up front, during his long illness.  His death ended his suffering and was a relief to me and to my mother. I was left without grief but still with considerable sadness over his lost potential which was also my loss. Two years after his death, on my 40th birthday, something wonderful happened.

I was still living in Vermont at the time. Early on the morning of my fortieth birthday. I was drifting in an out of sleep when suddenly I found myself sitting on the end of my bed. My dad was sitting next to me—not as in a dream, but as a totally clear, vibrant reality. He was well-dressed, smiling, as if totally relaxed and happy and looked fit and healthy. He put his arm across my shoulders and said aloud: “Happy Birthday, son!” I woke and sat on the end of the bed and cried for a long time. It was a healing experience. I know that this experience occurred in the twilight between waking and sleeping when my thinking mind was not cluttering up my consciousness. The channel was open. The experience was qualitatively different from the thousands of dreams I have had in my life. None of those dreams were real. My dad’s visit was real. It healed me in that it replaced my final memory of a weak and wasted, undemonstrative father with a memory of a vibrant, healthy, loving dad. I remember these qualities to this day. The experience also opened my mind to the probability an afterlife. I do not consider my experience to be “evidence” of anything. I am comfortable with mystery. I don’t need evidence. All I needed was the reality that my dad was alive, healthy and happy and that he loved me. I have never felt the need for—or sought—any additional contact with my dad. My experience was complete.

It was a small miracle, a gift for which I am still grateful.