Thank you so much to my friend Chris Bing for sharing this very personal story. I got chills when I read it. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Please feel free to comment below and share too!
Growing up, I never much believed in the spiritual world, or the supernatural, or whatever you wanted to call it back then. Although I lost three of my grandparents before the age of five, death was kept at a distance from me. My parents certainly never sat me down to discuss what went on after someone died, that they might go someplace else, a better place. We were erratic churchgoers at best.
I had a very normal childhood: played army with my friends, collected baseball cards, rode my bike and got to pick dinner every year on my birthday. Every year, my mom would tell me I could choose any dish I wanted and she would make it, anything at all. And I always, always, asked for her Spaghetti and Meatballs. And my mom would deliver.
As I got older, death still kept its distance until my father passed away suddenly when I was twenty-four. But I didn’t see or sense anything strange after he was gone. Sure, there was that time when I was driving a date home very late one night and I started nodding off when I heard the rapid snapping of fingers in my ear that bolted me straight up and wide awake. My father used to snap his fingers at us when we were doing something he detested. Okay, that was a little weird, but totally explainable. Right?
Years later, when my mom became terminally ill, it affected me deeply. She was a rock for my family, a loving parent, a generous mother-in-law and an inspiring grandparent. She was in Hospice care during the last few months and my wife and I would visit her every Tuesday night after work. We brought her food and then would sit and talk with her until she drifted off to sleep. She loved to talk; about the past, or my brothers both and how the kids were doing. But she never discussed, with me at least, about how ready she was or wasn’t to leave this world, or what, if anything, awaited her afterwards. It was a terrible blow when the end came. She passed away on an afternoon following one of our weekly visits. I rushed from work but she was already gone. While we waited for the Hospice officials to arrive we sat in her room and held her hand and grieved. I couldn’t help but wonder what was happening to her. Was she hovering above us? Heading for the light? Or simply nothing? Whatever was going on, we felt nothing otherworldly; no signs to hold on to.
Twelve days later was my birthday. The previous weeks had been incredibly emotional and exhausting for us. My wife wanted to take me out for a special birthday dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. We quickly ordered a choice bottle of red wine and just as quickly clinked our glasses together in a toast.
“To Virginia,” said my wife.
The waiter came by to tell us about the specials. This was a running joke between my wife and I because the specials at this restaurant were always the same: Beef Medallions, Lake Superior Whitefish and some sort of pasta dish. Always the same for the twenty years we’d been going there. And this night was no different. But wait:
“We have one more special,” he said, “today is National Meatball Day and so in honor we have a second pasta special, Spaghetti and Meatballs.”
National Meatball Day? Spaghetti and Meatballs? We’d been coming to this place for twenty plus years, and many of those times on my birthday. We’d never heard of National Meatball Day nor had this restaurant ever prepared Spaghetti and Meatballs before. Ever.
The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end.
The waiter drifted away to gives a few minutes to decide.
My wife looked at me and could see I was in obvious distress and asked what the matter was. When I told her she said, “I’ve got the shivers!”
We both turned to the empty chair that sat next to my wife.
My wife raised her glass once again.
“To Virginia,” I echoed.
I signaled to the waiter to come over. We were definitely ready to order.