By Lloyd Glenn
Last summer my family had a spiritual experience that had a lasting and profound impact on us, one we feel must be shared. It’s a message of love. It’s a message of regaining perspective, and restoring proper balance and renewing priorities. In humility, I pray that by relating this story I might give you a gift my little son, Brian, gave our family one summer day last year.
On July 22nd I was en route to Washington, D.C. for a business trip. It was all so very ordinary, until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead bin, an announcement was made for Mr. Lloyd Glenn to see the United Customer Service Representative immediately.
I thought nothing of it until I reached the door to leave the plane and I heard a gentleman asking every male if he were Mr. Glenn. At this point I knew something was wrong and my heart sank. When I got off the plane a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said, “Mr. Glenn, there is an emergency at your home. I do not know what the emergency is or who is involved, but I will take you to the phone so you can call the hospital.”
My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to the distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for the Mission Hospital. My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that Brian, my three-year-old son, had been trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes, and that when my wife had found him he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued the treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital.
By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, or to his heart. They explained that the door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed. After speaking with the medical staff, my wife sounded worried but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness.
The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son lying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife, who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream. I was filled in on the details and given a guarded prognosis.
Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was okay, two miracles in themselves. But only time would tell if his brain had received any damage.
Throughout the seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline. All that night and the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before.
Finally at two o’clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up, uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, “Daddy, hold me,” and he reached for me with his little arms.
By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine our gratitude and joy. As we took Brian home we felt a unique reverence for the life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely.
In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were much closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family. Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound.
The story is not over!
Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, “Sit down, Mommy. I have something to tell you.”
At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to hear him say a sentence of that length surprised my wife. She sat down with him on his bed and he began his sacred and remarkable story. “Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn’t hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the ‘birdies’ came.”
“The birdies?” my wife asked, puzzled.
“Yes,” he replied. “The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me.”
“Yes” he said. “One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you I got stuck under the door.”
A sweet reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that our three-year-old had no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to him from beyond as “birdies” because they were up in the air like birds that fly.
“What did the birdies look like?” she asked.
Brian answered, “They were so beautiful. They were dressed in white, all white. Some of them had green and white. But some of them had on just white.”
“Did they say anything?”
“Yes” he answered. “They told me the baby would be alright.”
“The baby?” my wife asked, confused.
Brian answered. “The baby laying on the garage floor.” He went on, “You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave.”
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed gone and knelt beside Brian’s body, and seeing his crushed chest, knowing he was already dead, she looked up around her and whispered, “Don’t leave us, Brian. Please stay if you can.”
As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that the spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form. “Then what happened?” she asked.
“We went on a trip,” he said, “far, far away.” He grew agitated, trying to say the things he didn’t seem to have the words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was difficult. “We flew so fast up in the air. They’re so pretty, Mommy.” He added. “And there are lots and lots of birdies.”
Brian went on to tell her that the “birdies” had told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about them. He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed and Brian tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay, but the man couldn’t hear him. He said the birdies told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said they were so pretty and so peaceful, and he didn’t want to come back.
Then the bright light came. He said that the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light so much. Someone was in the bright light and put their arms around him, and told him, “I love you, but you have to go back. You have to play baseball, and tell everyone about the birdies.” Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye-bye. Then woosh, the big sound came and they went into the clouds.
The story went on for an hour. He taught us that “birdies” were always with us, but we don’t see them because we only look with our eyes and we don’t hear them because we only listen with our ears. “But they are always there, and you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper things to help us to do what is right because they love us so much.”
Brian continued, stating, “I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We must all live our plan and keep our promises. The birdies help us to do that ’cause they love us so much.”
In the weeks that followed, Brian often came to us and told all, or part of it again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few times he added further bits of information and clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he spoke of his “birdies.”
Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the “birdies.” Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their faces and smiled.
Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and we pray we never will be.
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net