Paul, Ernie and Dave


Following the difficult birth of our daughter, we moved to Dallas when she was 18 months old and lived there for 9 1/2 years. There were some really good kids in our neighborhood and we are still close to some of them to this day. One of those kids was Paul. With curly brown hair and bright blue eyes he was adorable. Paul’s parents lived across the street and every day he would appear at our door, pressing his sweet face against the glass in the door. When we opened the door Pau would snap to attention and ask in a robot-super-hero way “Is Chris Dowwww here?” Same thing, every time.  He adored our son and our family loved that child. He was always welcome at our house. One weekend he was traveling with his dad along with their Sheltie, Priss.  They were in a bad accident and Paul was killed. Just like that his tiny life over. He was 6 years old. His dad and the dog were banged up but fine.

The funeral was held at our church and my husband officiated while our son was an acolyte. It was the hardest thing we had ever done.

I saw him several times after he died and months after we had cleaned all traces of those sweet handprints and nose marks of Paul’s off of the glass of our front door, small handprints re-appeared one morning when I saw his sweet face once again through the door’s glass. Our daughter, just 2 years older, had seen him too. “Mama, did you see Paul? He was just at the door. Do you think Jesus let him come back?”  His dad often said that he heard giggles in their house and saw him elsewhere in the house on several occasions.  I know it was Paul.


My mom re-married a man from her church 7 years after my dad died. (dad was 54 ).  Ernie had been married for 50 years when his wife passed. They had one son, Michael, and through the years had many foster children, but Michael was their only child by birth.  When he was about 10, he was killed in a terrible fire in the garage of the house. Ernie and Lillian were devastated. She never truly recovered. No mother ever could.  Ernie cried over him until the day he died.

As I was on the plane en route to Ernie’s funeral, I was gazing out the window at some beautiful  fluffy clouds when I saw him. Out there on one of the clouds, jumping up and down like a little kid saying “I’m FREE, I’m FREE!!” You see, Ernie was in his late 70’s /early 80’s and had suffered from emphysema for a long time, yet he always had a childlike joy in many things. I looked away, thinking I was crazy. I looked back to see him, arms outstretched as his son Michael ran to him. “Michael, at last I can hold you again!” I looked away and then the image was gone–but I had my confirmation when Michael appeared. I had never met him and seen a photo only once.


A few years after the death of our 6-year-old neighbor, Paul, another heartbreaking loss of a friend. One of the families in the church we were serving at that time in Dallas had a little girl our daughter’s age of about 3 years and they were good friends. Her parents were wonderful and we spent Christmas Eve at their house each year enjoying a traditional Scandinavian buffet with their friends who had faraway family.

Dave was a corporate attorney and went on a business trip with 2 other co-workers in a small plane. That particular weekend his wife had asked him not to go but he felt he must and kissed his family and left for the airport. They never returned home. Their plane went down over mountains in New Mexico and for 3 months they searched. The grief and fear was enormous and it involved the whole community. The military performed ‘night maneuvers’ using infared and heat sensing equipment until it was finally time to stop and perform a memorial service. Then we got word that the wreckage had been found–by a mountain shepherd boy while herding his sheep. Search over, remains of loved ones found, funerals planned. Dave’s was truly a celebration of his life of faith and friendship. Members of his college choir, Luther’s Nordic Choir, which he and his wife sang in during college, came from all over to sing “On Eagles Wings”, based on Psalm 91. The church was full, standing room only. I looked around to take in all the love in the room and there he was.

It was Dave, our friend, standing at the back of the church, leaning on the wall, arms crossed. He was dressed in a nice suit and he just listened to the loving words being sung and spoken about him and the impact his life had on friends and relatives. There were others standing around him but there was no indication that they were aware of his presence.

There were no more strange occurrences after that day-until 2011.

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