Chapter 46 – Heavenly Reunions?

gabheaven

“Don, Dad, Master, you’re here! OK, let’s play!”

If you have not read it yet, please read Chapter 44 – Driver Dream before reading this page.

If you read through this website you can see how much I loved Gabby. Losing her has been tremendously painful, more that words can say, and I have been profoundly affected by it. As I searched the web for comfort and grief support, I found I was far from the only person overwhelmed with grief after losing a beloved dog (or cat.) I was searching for signs and answers that she was OK and I would see her again someday, and found many people out there doing the same.  This is my own little contribution to the subject.  I’ve had some amazing experiences in my lifetime and now is the time to share them.  Perhaps they will help if you are in a similar situation.  

In this section, I will discuss things that many people struggle with, especially those of us who have lost a beloved pet.  Is there a God?  Is there something more than material existence, is there an afterlife? And especially for those of us who loved and lost pets, will we seen them again someday? You may have found this page because you have lost a dog or cat of your own that was very special.  This page is especially for you.  I know in dealing with my own loss, I read books and searched for webpages as I was looking for reassurance, and the subject is one I have grappled most my entire life.

Please note that despite what I will write in this, the final chapter, this site is about Gabby and our life together, not spiritual matters. It is all very personal and I really debated whether to put in the parts about me watching “The Devil’s Hand” and learning about Neil Hamilton and Don Bosco, the messages that flooded my mind the day after she passed, the Driver Dream and my subsequent conversation with Nancy, etc.  The reason I decided to include them is they are part of the story, and I think it is a better story when told in its entirety and I don’t censor myself.

Can science and faith coexist? 
I think most people are like me in the sense that they are in the middle, and believe science and faith can coexist.  If that is the middle, then at one end of the spectrum are religious fundamentalists of every world religion who believe everything their holy books say is true, even when clearly presented scientific evidence contradicts it.  On the other side of the spectrum are strict atheists who believe absolutely everything has a scientific explanation and there is no God or spiritual world beyond this one. What I will write here is not likely to change any minds that are already made up. That is fine, because as I said I am not looking to start any religious or spiritual debates or change anyone’s belief system. I get along fine with people at both end of the spectrum, and everywhere in-between. If you are a believer in any way, what I write here may just confirm what you already believe, or won’t come as any surprise. If you are a skeptic or a non-believer, I think you will find what I write here very interesting in the very least.  You will see that I have been unfortunately cursed (if there is no God) by what appear to be amazing coincidences not once, but four times, and these events have helped lead me to erroneous faith and belief.  I mostly hope this chapter will help those who doubt or who are looking for reassurance.  It also may help those who believe, but are unsure about whether their beloved pets will be waiting for them in the afterlife or not.

I will start by saying that I am not a religion teacher of any stripe.  I wouldn’t even know how to categorize what I am about to write here other than “putting it all out there.”  Many others in the public sphere have shared their experiences and they have helped me. Some of them I have even quoted or linked here or on other pages of this site. It would be hypocritical of me to read these stories and gain the benefit of their testimony and experience, without being willing to speak out myself. 

The first question, obviously, is the belief in God and Heaven at all, or that something that lies beyond our physical existence.  There has to be a God and Heaven for us to see our pets there someday! Some people just believe and accept this without question, some of us struggle with issues of God, faith, religion, and what comes after this life. I have tended to fall in the latter category, those who struggle sometimes.  It can be so hard to make sense of it all, in a world with so much suffering and pain, a world that is so unfair, chaotic,  and that doesn’t make sense. 

tower1

Making my way to the top of the Eiffel Tower in August 2014

In August 2014 I was in Paris, making my way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. When I got to the top I  looked out over the city to La Defense out in the distance.  I contemplated existence and the meaning of it all at that very moment. 

ladefense

La Defense, Paris

All those people I could see below me… and countless others I could not see in the buildings within view.  And to think of the billions more scattered throughout the globe, and all those who came before. When you think of the enormity of it all, the idea of a God that knows each and every one of these people can seem incomprehensible. I am very familiar with all sides of the scientific, atheist and theistic arguments. I went to Catholic school and have studied many religions and philosophies. I also know exactly how evolution works and why, and have had many biology classes.  My belief comes from considering all the arguments, as well as my personal experience.  Just being indoctrinated in a religion, being told something by an authority figure or reading a book would never be enough to make me a believer.  I had to consider everything and find it by myself.

“Donald, there are things that happen sometimes that no one can explain.”

These are words my grandfather said that have stuck with me all my life.  I was discussing my doubts about God and faith with my grandparents, and they listened.  At a certain point, my grandfather, who had remained silent as I went on and on, said, “Donald, there are things that happen sometimes that no one can explain.”

He had a way of communicating very effectively, and always knew how to drive the point home while using very few words. He always said “Donald” when he wanted something to stick.  And stick it did, I knew exactly what he meant, and why.

It has been a long journey and at times I have felt atheistic, but I have come to fall on the side of belief, with the idea that God works through natural forces to create the world.  I am Catholic as part of my cultural identity, if not strict practice. I have come to develop a simple Christian view and trust in God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness, while doing the best I can in all that I do and not judging others. Though I have told stories about answered prayers as I wrote this story, I don’t consider myself a religious person, especially from an organized religion standpoint.  Let’s just say I have faith, though sometimes I doubt like Thomas despite some amazing experiences I have had. It is the curse of a technical, analytical mind. 

Helping me to believe are things that happen that can’t be explained, that tell you that there is more.  I related the story of Neil Hamilton in the chapter about Gabby’s second kidney problem, where he narrowly avoided committing suicide due to a chance encounter with a priest. His life was changed forever in that moment.

Chris Pratt

Actor Chris Pratt had this story for Esquire Magazine:

In Maui, about four weeks before I was discovered to go to California, I was hanging with my buddy. I wasn’t quite old enough to drink, so we got somebody to go in and buy us some alcohol. This guy came by and was like, “What are you doing tonight”‘ I was like, “Oh, I dunno. I was just gonna wait out here, my friends are gonna buy me a bottle of Carlo Rossi and a sixer of Milwaukee’s Best Ice. So he’s like, “Will you fornicate tonight?” I was like, “I hope so.” “And drugs and drinking?” It’s like, “Most likely, yeah. Probably all three of those things. I mean, at least two of them, possibly all three.” He was like, “I stopped because Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you’re destined for great things.”

He was indeed destined for great things. Shortly thereafter, he was waiting tables at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, met a director, and got a part.  You know the rest of the story. He is a huge star now, one of the hottest in Hollywood with lead roles in  The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, etc.

Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor had a near-death experience and talked about it in interviews.
Allnurses forum and deathbed visions

There is a good thread about this on the allnurses.com message board. A few skeptics chime in, but you can tell that most of the hospice nurses here believe these visions are real. The discussion starts here:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/deathbed-visions-196680.html

So many stories of this type are so similar.  Most skeptics say that it is just the dying process of brain or drugs, but I don’t buy it.  Too many stories, too similar, too relevant to the people experiencing them, and many of them were not on meds.  I don’t think the brain is that good to fool itself this way, and where there is smoke, there is fire.  There is more going on here than can be easily explained by biology.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, who refused to be labeled either as a believer or an atheist, or even as an agnostic, had a remarkable vision shortly before he died.  You can read about it below.

Here is what he said himself in 2009, years before his visions and death.  Something clearly changed.

Susan R. Stoltz

Writer Susan R. Stoltz had an amazing experience after her dog Crusher passed away.

Shortly after he died I was doing a real estate appraisal in northern Wyoming. I walked out of a real estate office after picking up a key and an elderly man of Native American descent looked at me and asked me if I was aware that a small tan and white dog followed me wherever I went.  I was instantly in tears and replied, “One used to follow me but had recently died.” He said “He is with you now, right by your feet as he was in life.”

Betty and Becky

This one happened in my own family.  In 1982 my Aunt Betty was in London on vacation.  Her best friend, Becky, was back in the United States and fighting a losing battle against cancer.  One morning, my Aunt had a very realistic dream in which Becky, now looking healthy and whole, came to her and said, “I came to see you and say goodbye.”  Then Becky left and my aunt woke up.

Now awake, my aunt got up and said to her daughter, who was accompanying her, “Becky’s dead. I just know it.  She just came to me.” She then told her about the dream.  Upon their return to the USA they discovered that Becky had indeed died shortly before my aunt had the dream. Remember, in 1982 we did not have the Internet, Twitter, etc. and international phone calls were incredibly expensive.  (We even had expensive domestic long distance way back then!) 

These anecdotes, and so many more like them help me believe in something more than material existence, in God, Heaven, and there being something waiting for us when we pass on. 

I know of more incidents like this that happened within my family and circle of friends, but don’t want to drag on the subject.  Two good books in a similar vein are listed below.  I have read and recommend them both.
Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die

By David Kessler

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying 

By Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley

If there is something more, the rest is easy for me.  If there is a God and a Heaven, I have no doubt our dogs will be there, too.  As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”   I don’t know anyone can look into those eyes and get to know a dog, and not think they have a soul worthy of Heaven, or that God does not love them too.

Within Christianity, some religious leaders say dogs do not have souls that survive death.  Others say Jesus did not die to save them, so they can’t enter Heaven. Other religious leaders say the Bible is silent about the issue because it is meant for humans.  I agree with the latter group. Dogs have intelligence, personality, and emotions but they are sinless and full of unconditional love. God made them, but they don’t sin and turn away from God.  As a bishop once told a grieving pet owner, “God didn’t throw the animals out of paradise, only the humans.” God loves the animals too and would not abandon them, not to mention those of us who loved them and long to see them again. I think a loving God would want nothing more than to see us reunited, knowing the joy it would bring to both.

My own experiences

I myself have had things happen to me that do not have a scientific explanation, and that I cannot simply write off to coincidence.  I told one story in “Psychic Bond?” but it wasn’t the only one. Three times in my life I asked God for reassurance regarding my life and those I love, and my prayers were answered in rather direct fashion. One of these was actually about dogs and the afterlife. I will tell these stories below.  I have never done so publicly before, mostly because I did not want people to think I was crazy!  But it seems like a lot of people like myself have had amazing experiences, but have been afraid to share them for just this reason.  Here is an excerpt from Hello From Heaven: A New Field of Research Confirms That Life and Love are Eternal.  I highly recommend this book, by the way.  It was written by Bill and Judy Guggenhein. (ADC stands for after death communication.)

hfh1

hfh2

Nuns and signs

When I was in Catholic grade school in sixth grade, a nun I will never forget, Sister St. Jude, told a story that would turn out to have big implications for my future.

She was a math teacher, but she talked about religion and life a lot, too. (She was a nun, after all…) One day she told the class a story about how horrible she felt when she lost her mother.  She asked God to give her a sign that her mother was OK, and in Heaven.  She asked for something specific and unlikely that she could not miss… that she see only one red rose at the viewing the next day.  This was pretty unlikely, given how many roses there usually are at funerals.  Then, when she went to the viewing, she did not see any red roses at all!  She thought she was not given her sign, then later someone tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Look at that single red rose sticking out in the middle of that bouquet.  Isn’t that odd?”

She said she knew at that moment she got her sign, and that her mother was in Heaven.  I did not think much of that story at the time, but never forgot it and the way she told it.

Bible scholars will recognize the similarity to the story of Gideon and the fleece, from the Book of Judges.  Gideon’s faith was weak, so he often asked for signs.  

Gideon sounds a lot like me.

First time I tried this…

About eight years later during my college years, I was on summer break and something was bearing very heavy on my mind about the future and my time at college.  At the time I was a strong believer with absolutely no doubts. I was emotionally overwhelmed, laying in bed praying. For some reason I remembered Sister St. Jude’s story, and asked for a sign so I would feel better. Like her, I tried to think of something I could not possibly miss. It would also be something so extremely unlikely I could not write off to coincidence if it happened that very day. I was working at a Six Flags park in the security department for the summer.  One time the previous summer I saw a park guest wearing my fraternity’s Greek letters.  I went and introduced myself, he was a brother from the UNC Chapel Hill chapter. 

OK, I thought this was unlikely enough. I prayed and asked God to please send me a sign, that if what I was worrying about would come true, that I meet a member of my fraternity at work the next day. I thought I would see a guest in the park wearing my Greek letters like I did the year before, which outside of a college environment was an extremely rare occurrence.

I walked through the park on patrol the whole day, not seeing anyone wearing the Greek letters.  My final shift was at the back gate, checking employee IDs.  The day was almost over and I remembered my prayer of the night before. I thought to myself, “Well, I did not get my sign, but seriously, you can’t expect things like that to happen…”  and put it all out of my mind.

About fifteen minutes later an employee wearing a lifeguard uniform walked past, holding up his ID, saying,  “See what a nice guy I am?  You do not even have to ask me for my ID!” I thanked him and he walked 200 feet to the entrance gate.  Then he turned around and walked back, stopping at my guard shack.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Weren’t you in a fraternity up in Pittsburgh?” came the question.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Which one?’ 

“Phi Delta Theta.  Why?”

“Because I am a Phi Delt too.”

“Really?”  I asked.  “Where?  Give me the handshake!” And he did!

I asked him how he knew we were in the same fraternity. He said that at the moment he got to the park entrance, he realized that the year before he saw me wearing a shirt with our Greek letters.  We chatted about our chapters and college life until he had to report to work.  As he walked away, I turned and thought to myself, “Wow, it is really cool to have another Phi Delt working here…”

And then, I realized what had happened and stopped dead in my tracks. It was like the whole world came to a standstill for a moment.  I received exactly what I had asked for, and my prayer was answered.  Not only was it answered, it was answered in a way that made it extremely difficult to write off as mere coincidence.  I didn’t see someone walking around the park wearing Greek letters. That would be pretty easy to write off to coincidence. HE came to ME, out of the blue, and asked if I was in a fraternity. He asked me on that specific day in the middle of the summer, 15 minutes before I was supposed to end my work day, and there was nothing present anywhere at the time to identify ourselves as fraternity members.

What you are probably wondering now is if what I asked for a sign about actually happened.  It did, but not when I was expecting it.  I expected it to happen as soon as I returned to school at the end of the summer.  It did not happen then. I was disappointed and wrote off my answered prayer as an accident or coincidence. The joke was on me though, because it came true the last day of finals my senior year, three years later, the day before I moved out of town to start my new job. It was literally at the very last possible moment, and when it happened I was in shock. I did nothing to make it occur, it happened spontaneously because I was in the right place at the right time.  I had given up and forgotten about my goal.

After my initial disappointment years prior, I thought it was impossible for the sign to come true. I never made any more efforts to achieve my goal, but I got what I asked for anyway spontaneously and at the last possible moment in my time at college.  It happened on God’s time, not mine, and I can’t take any credit for it at all.

I told a friend about this and he said, “God went out of his way for you!”

Second time, and 2 for 2

When my Grandfather passed away in 1996 was the second time I asked for a sign. I missed him so much! A few weeks after he passed, I was lying in bed at night at my grandmother’s house, a tear trickling down my cheek as I thought of him.  (I stayed with her for a few months after he passed to help her make the adjustment to living alone.)
Remembering how my prayer was answered years before, I asked for reassurance Pop was in Heaven and I would see him again someday, like the nun did about her mother. Again, I asked for something very specific and unlikely that I could not miss. I collect things from the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, and world’s fairs are a remnant of the past, very rarely heard of after the 1980s. I had a book about the fair on my nightstand, and saw it there.  “World’s fair” is certainly something rare, something I would not miss.  Even then, I could not remember the last time I saw a world’s fair mentioned anywhere. So, I asked to see something about a world’s fair somewhere the following day, if Pop was OK in Heaven and I would see him again someday. 

The next evening, Gram and I were watching a Simpsons rerun.  The episode unfolds.  Bart gets a fake driver’s license and the kids rent a car. They are headed to Disney World. Milhouse is looking at an old AAA Triptik and says, “Wait, stop the car!  Let’s not go to Orlando. Let’s go to Nashville!”

“What’s in Nashville?” Bart asks.

“A fair!” Milhouse replies. “And not just a fair, but a WORLD’S fair!”

I got goosebumps when this happened and again, time seemed to stop for a moment. My friend Ted was there at the time and we discussed it later. He knew about the first sign I asked for and how it came true, and when I told him what happened that evening, he nodded, saying, “I believe in that stuff.” He’s never really had any doubts about God, faith or anything, and he has had some amazing spiritual experiences of his own. 

So, out of my entire life up until then, I pled for divine reassurance about the two things that meant the very most to me.  Each time, I got it, against all odds.

Third time, about Gabby and the afterlife

The third time was about Gabby and whether we would see each other again after she passed.

In September 2008 I was in Las Vegas on vacation. I missed Gabby, as I always did when I traveled, and was looking forward to going home and seeing her again. It weighed heavily on my mind… that someday in the future, when I got home from vacation she would not be there to greet me anymore. She would be 11 in November, and my sister’s dachshund Sally lived to be 13, and my Aunt Linda’s dachshund Pepper, to 14.  That meant I could be losing her very soon, if her life followed the pattern we had seen in our family. 

One of the events planned for the trip was a Barry Manilow concert at the Las Vegas Hilton. The show was September 26, 2008. He was just opening up a new show celebrating his past hits, called “Ultimate Manilow- The Hits.” I liked many of his songs, and Mark Evanier wrote a great story about his experience going to a performance at http://www.newsfromme.com/pov/col105/ so I decided it was time for me to see one, too. I remember seeing pictures of Barry with his beagle, Bagel, and imagined he had the kind of bond with Bagel as I did with Gabby.

Remembering the two signs I received years before and Gabby’s mortality very heavy on my mind that evening, I said a little prayer as we walked into the theater. “God… if dogs go to heaven, and Gabby and I will be together there someday… would you please give me a sign during the concert?” I did not ask for anything specific as I could not think of anything to ask for, just that he let me know.

I sat down, realizing it would be pretty hard to get a sign about being with my dog in the afterlife during a Barry Manilow concert. It was a stupid thing to ask for, and I would likely be disappointed this time. I shook my head and laughed at myself. Oh, well.

About halfway through the concert, Barry pulled out a stool and sat down near the edge of the stage. I do not remember his exact words, so I am going to paraphrase the best I can. The audience’s reaction needs no paraphrasing!

After he sat down he addressed the audience. “I am going to sing this next song without the orchestra.  When people hear it, they think it is about a romantic relationship, lovers who had parted getting back together again.  It is true that it is what it is about, but to me, it has another meaning too.  There are those we have loved who are no longer with us, and it’s about being reunited with them again someday.”

My ears perked up. This really gained my attention. 

He continued,  “As for me, I miss my Grandfather… and I miss X” (don’t remember who he said here.)

Then there was a long pause. I was waiting with anticipation… would he say it?

His voice broke a little as he said it. “I miss my dogs.”

“AWWWWWWWWWW!” went the whole audience.

“The song is called ‘Somewhere Down the Road’ and I hope you enjoy it.”

Here is the song.

I asked for a sign, and I got it. That song was never one I paid much attention to before, but after that I downloaded it and would sometimes play it while I held Gabby and talked to her, especially in her final years. 
 
I was now three for three when it came to asking for divine reassurance when I really, really needed it. Coincidence this time? I did not ask for a specific thing to take place as I did before, but what more could I ask for?  I don’t think it could have been any better.

glowstick

They gave everyone a glowstick when they entered the concert. Given what I had experienced, I made sure I saved mine.  It is now in a special dresser drawer that is dedicated to Gabby. In the picture above, the glowstick is resting on the shirt I wore in Canada the day I had the sudden, accurate premonition she was in trouble. You can see me wearing it in the picture of me holding her in front of my Mini Cooper S. To me, the shirt and the memories of that day are a reminder of how connected we were, and how special our relationship was.

I knew Barry was born Jewish, and afterwards I did a little research on his religious beliefs.  It seems some websites were claiming he was an atheist, based on jokes he made during interviews about the president of his record company being God, and comments he made about not being involved in Judaism, his birth religion.  This didn’t make sense at all given what he said at the concert, and there was no mistaking what I heard.  What he said at the concert was a very non-atheist thing to say.  I have since found references that argue against atheism, both in letters and interviews, as linked below.  


Q: Did your family go to temple?

A: They did, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t get religion. When they took me to shul, it seemed to me they were always telling me that I was doing something terribly wrong and I had to atone for it. And I kept saying, “But I’m a nice fellow. I don’t think I need to atone for very much.” So I didn’t get the rest of it. I went on my own and figured out my own spiritual path.


The entire interview can be read at: http://www.manilow.nl/GQinterview.htm

Praying for young stars, keeping people in thoughts and prayers, and speaking of a spiritual path do not sound very atheistic to me. It is well known that he is an extremely private person, and does not even share the names of his dogs with the public.  Given this he probably does not want to discuss his spiritual beliefs openly, and besides, the purpose of this site is not to speculate about the religious beliefs of Barry Manilow. Personally, I think he hopes to be reunited with Bagel and his other dogs someday, and was willing to share that much during the concert. I just knew that if I was going to put this story out there, it could seem like a contradiction given some sites claim he is an atheist. Regardless of what it says elsewhere, I know what I heard at the concert and what it meant to me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

The fourth sign… and I did not actually ask.
About three months after Gabby passed I was about halfway into making this website.  The thought of this chapter had entered my mind, but I was unsure if I was going to actually do it. One Sunday I had a pretty hard day. I was cleaning under my bed and found her bowling pin.  It had rolled under there and I had not seen it in months. Finding it triggered a lot of emotion and grief.

Later on I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, thinking of her and missing her.  I just wanted to know I was going to see her again and she was OK.  I had already had the sign at the concert, but I just wanted a little more reassurance.  “Maybe I should ask for another sign,” I thought.  “If I asked and got it, THEN I would know for sure!”

I quickly steered myself from this line of thought, arguing with myself.  “No, no, NO ! You did that three times and got it, don’t push your luck a fourth time.  Given how you are feeling, if you don’t get it you will be devastated.  Just remember what Reverend Tami said, and have a little faith. Besides, if the previous three are not enough then a fourth won’t make a difference anyway.”

Thinking this way made me feel much better.  I was just going to have faith, Gabby was OK and everything would be OK. I was actually relieved when I stopped myself from formally praying and asking for this fourth sign.  If I don’t ask, I can’t be disappointed, and worrying and wondering about Gabby this time was actually far more emotional for me than the other three situations where I had asked.  Granted, one of the times was about her, but she was with me back then.  Now that she is gone, it was much harder on me and the stakes were higher.

So, now that I wasn’t going to ask… I wondered… “If I was going to ask for a sign again, what would I ask for?  What is something I could not possibly miss?” Something a million to one, that I never, ever see?”

I quickly came up with an answer.  “I think I would have asked to see a Citroen somewhere in real life tomorrow, not on the Internet or on display somewhere. It would have to be parked or being driven on the road, being used like a real car.  There would be no missing that!”  
If you don’t know what a Citroen is, it is a French car that has not been sold in the United States since 1973.  There are very few in the entire United States. They never sold many here to begin with, and it has been over 40 years since they were officially imported. Lamborghinis, Rolls-Royces and Ferraris are WAY more common than Citroens!  I never saw a Citroen in operation in my city.  I just saw one that was being sold for parts or repair, and that was many years ago.
Feeling much more relaxed, I read for a little while, then turned out the light and went to sleep.

The next day proceeded as normal.  I went to my favorite restaurant, Grande Italian Restaurant, for lunch.  I eat there four or five times per week and am friends with all the staff.  Nancy, who I mentioned in Driver Dream, works there.

citroengs

Citroen GS  Image credit: Wikimedia

As I pulled up to the restaurant, I saw an odd-looking car parked directly in front.  It was a dark green Citroen GS with Pennsylvania plates.  I drove right past it, thinking, “Wow, a Citroen. You don’t see that every day around here, that’s for sure!”  I went in and ate my lunch, read my newspaper then left.

Two hours later I was sitting at my desk, writing.  I thought of the Citroen and moved the cursor to my browser’s search box, wanting to look up more about the Citroen model I had just seen. The only Citroens models I knew were the 2CV, the SM, DS, and the XM. The GS was new to me.

Then, it hit me. What I was going to ask for… but chickened out… happened anyway.

Afraid to put it on the line, I had not even “officially” asked for a sign. Yet I got my answer. Looking back to the moment I saw it there, I feel such a sense of wonder, and a feeling that God knew of my pain and wanted to reassure me.

grande

The dark green Citroen GS was parked where the blue Jeep is in the picture above

I wish I would have had the presence of mind to take a picture of the Citroen right under the Grande sign when it happened, but I had forgotten about my little self-discussion of the night before.  And believe me, if you wanted to park it somewhere to get my attention, right in front of Grande Italian Restaurant is probably the most conspicuous place you could do it, other than directly in front of my house!

I was on the fence about writing this chapter until I saw the Citroen.  Seeing it sealed the deal for me.

By the way, I was 4 for 4, not 4 for 10,982…

At this point I should add that these four times are the only time I asked for direct reassurance in this way.  I don’t go through life constantly asking God for signs and reassurance. The only times I prayed and asked in this fashion were when it was something tremendously important to me. That’s why it is impossible for me to write them off as mere coincidence.  

I do not ask for signs any more, and do not recommend anyone else do it, either. I would not want anyone to do what I did and be disappointed or have their faith be challenged when they did not get the same results.  But given the blessing I was given the four times in my life when I needed it most, I now believe it is time to share them. I didn’t really ask the fourth time and stopped myself, but was given my sign anyway. What a blessing!  When I was sitting at my desk and had just realized that I saw the Citroen after my little self-discussion of the night before, I felt like God just gave me a hug.

Why me?

Why should I get the answers to my prayers so directly, when so many people ask and are disappointed? 

I don’t know.

I don’t think I am any more deserving than anyone else out there, and I don’t have the answer to that question. Life isn’t fair in a way far beyond that, anyway.  I live in the greatest country on Earth, making a really nice living playing with and connecting people with expensive toys.  My life is comfortable, the people in my life are happy and healthy and the worst emotional pain I have ever had was losing my dog when she was almost 18 years old. It was and is extremely painful, but certainly not unfair.  On the other side of the world there are people without the basic necessities of life, or living in war-torn areas, or people everywhere who die out of turn or lose children.

Though we live in a sometimes hostile world, if people did live the message most major religions encourage us to live, everything would certainly be much better, wouldn’t it?  If people didn’t lie, steal, and commit acts of violence, or covet each other’s possessions, and instead loved each other, helped each other when in need and lived lives of peace, we could have a veritable paradise on Earth.  Can you imagine if all the money spent on weapons and defense throughout the world was instead devoted to medical research?  Unfortunately, that is not the world we have and I am no dove when it comes to national defense, and I am no socialist either. A strong military is necessary and vital for defending our way of life and the cause of good throughout the world, and I recognize that competition helps drive technology and the human race forward. But even if we lived the message better in that context, the world would be a much better place.

Perhaps the reason my prayers were answered is so I can tell you about it, right here, right now. If superstars like Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Taylor can share their stories about divine guidance and the existence of something more than the material world, so can I.  Maybe you are someone who struggles with belief, or are a believer who wonders if your beloved pet will be there for you when it is your time. That’s why I am sharing all these stories, as intensely personal as it is. Maybe they will help. If there is anyone out there who is missing a beloved pet and wondering if you will ever see them again, I hope the stories others shared, as well as my own like the driver dream, the concert, and the Citroen puts more check marks in your “plus” column! 

In short, if there is a God and a Heaven, our beloved pets will be there for us… of that I am sure.  As so many have said before, it would not be Heaven without them.

When we are reunited…

Thinking forward to the day Gabby and I am reunited, I start to wonder what form it will take…

A silver car?

Interestingly enough, I now own a car very similar to the one I saw in my driver dream, where Gabby was waiting for me in a silver sedan parked in my driveway.  You saw pictures of my Mazda Miata in chapter 3, which I still own. I also own another convertible I don’t drive in winter, and an electric car I bought in 2014 to be my daily driver. It’s a perfect car for local driving, but last year I found it doesn’t have enough range to get me to the ski slopes and back because the range drops a good bit when you heat the vehicle interior. It is also impossible to get to Doc Slobody’s place when Beni needs to go. So, I looked for something inexpensive, decent and serviceable to put snow tires on and use as a “winter beater.” 
 

sable1

Hence, the 2002 Mercury Sable you see in the picture above and below. I bought it in October 2015, four months after she passed.

sable2

I did not pick it because of its style or color.  I bought it because it was very well maintained by a retired engineer, I liked the way it drove and the price was right. I gotta say though, it was kind of a cool coincidence, given my dream!

“Little Bobby” meeting at the pearly gates?

littlebobbie

My sister sent me this text, with a cartoon about meeting your dog at the pearly gates and them remembering you no matter how long you have been parted.  It is a famous cartoon by cartoonist Charles Barsotti. It has an interesting story about it, linked below at The Bark:

I bragged about Gabby when she was here, and I brag about her now.  Hopefully she is going on and on about me up there!

Coming with Gram and Pop?

Kim Crenshaw’s beautiful parting prayer, devoted to her dog Brandy, can be found at the link below.
 

This is my favorite part:
 
Let her remember me as well
and let her know that I will always love her.
And when it’s my time to pass over into your paradise,
please allow her to accompany those
who will bring me home.

Ms. Crenshaw is obviously referring to the many stories of the dying seeing loved ones who have gone before them, coming to lead them to the other side.  If that is what happens, I certainly hope I see Gabby there with them.

No matter when and how we are reunited, I go forward with the hope and faith that one day, someday, I will see Gabby again.  She may be waiting for me in a silver sedan, or I will experience the scene in “Little Bobbie,” or she may come for me with my own dearly departed… or perhaps something else entirely. I do know that when I see Gabby again, she will look just like she did the day when she was young and I took all those pictures of her in my grandmother’s backyard, and she will bound to me.

gabbygrown5

She will jump in my arms and we will never be parted again.

May you and your beloved pets have a joyful reunion as well.