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The Sibling Connection

A Letter From Kristy

               My dear younger brother, Todd died unexpectedly on November 14, 2001. He had just turned 30. I loved Todd more than any person I've ever known. Todd was a musician for many years. He toured a lot and often neglected his health. He had quit the band when he died, so I wasn't worried about him anymore. I had no idea that an under-treated bout with pneumonia years before could have contributed to his sudden death.

               The night, or early morning, that he died I had an incredible dream. If I'd had this dream knowing he was sick, or after he had died, I wouldn't have put much stock into it. However, I had this dream out of the blue. I can't believe it was a coincidence. Also, I told two people about it before I knew my brother was dead. I don't know that I'd believe this story if it'd happened to someone else, but I'm sharing it here because it did happen and because I hope this can bring comfort to someone else who has suffered the terrible loss of a sibling. This was my experience:

              On November 13, I didn't go to sleep thinking that I had any reason to worry about Todd. Of course, the next day, we learned of his death.

            Sometime during the night of November 13 or early morning hours of November 14, I was aware of lying in my bed, "looking" up. I say, "looking" because I know I was dreaming and not actually awake or looking at something. I don't recall ever being awake during this experience.

               The first thing I remember seeing is a golden/white cloud. The cloud contained spinning lights that looked like drums. They were thick, round and had evenly spaced horizontal lines on their sides. Again, they were spinning and were emanating light from their tops and bottoms. The cloud also contained sparkles of light. Some of those sparkles grew, or extended, and came out of the cloud as rays of light. Then I saw Todd's face in the middle of the cloud. He said, "Hey" to greet me, just like he had a million times before. I said "Hey Todd." I wasn't alarmed or scared. The light from the cloud was comforting and I was happy to see my brother.

               The exact dialogue from Todd that I remember is this:

               "I have to go now, but I know you'll understand. Mom, Dad and Stacey and everybody else will not understand, so you have to make them understand why I have to go and that I'm happy, full of joy and completely at peace."

               At this point, and for just a split second, I could feel how happy he was; I remember the light from the cloud giving me the overwhelming sensation of happiness and a pure joy that I'd never felt as a human being -- think runner's high times a thousand -- I can't think of another way to describe it. Even though that feeling only lasted a split second, I got the sense that Todd, or God, wanted to make sure I could feel what Todd was feeling so I would indeed understand how happy he was.

               Then Todd said, "I will see you later."

               He said it like it was a certainty. It did not sound like a casual parting phrase. It's important to note that Todd did not kill himself. When I look at this dialogue from an outsider's perspective, it sounds like he made a choice to "go." Since he didn't commit suicide, I think he was saying that he had to go because he had been sick, his body had just given out and now he had better places to be.

               On November 14, around 9 am, I woke up happy and calm. Just as a nightmare can make you feel bad in the morning, this dream had the opposite effect. I felt great. I wasn't worried about Todd because I had never had a dream that predicted any event or had any relevance to actual events. Since I had never had a dream that predicted future events, I didn't think it meant anything at all. (Besides, I'm an attorney. I deal in facts and logic.) I had no reason to be worried about Todd because it was just a dream. It was a powerful and vivid dream but, I thought, nothing more. In addition, when my brother said, "I'm happy, full of joy and completely at peace," I didn't associate that language with Todd. He simply didn't talk like that. When I woke up, I thought I had dreamed about Todd being dead but definitely, and without question, being happy somewhere. I thought, "That was strange, but it was nice to see him happy." Again, even though I had dreamed Todd was gone, I did not believe my dream meant, or was any proof, that he was actually gone. I didn't try to call him. I wasn't worried.

               So, on the morning of November 14, after getting up around 9, I went to work at about 10am. Then around noon, I met my boyfriend Chris for lunch. I was telling him about how my Mom has had strange, prophetic dreams. For instance, back in the '70's she woke up one night somehow knowing that my father's father, Grandpa Eckhardt, had just died. She woke my father up, told him that and then the phone rang with the news that Grandpa had died. I told Chris about this and then told him, "I'm so glad I don't have dreams like that because I dreamed that my brother died last night." I then described my dream about Todd to Chris in detail. Neither of us thought anything of it. After all, I don't go for any of that airy-fairy stuff. I'm a realist. I'm logical.

               I went back to my office. Around 2:30 pm, my sister, Stacey called me and asked, "Have you talked to Dad?" I said, "No, why?" She said she had called Dad to ask him a computer question and he sounded weird. Stacey called back and said she and Dad were worried about Todd. Todd had not shown up for work that day (the 14th) but one of his roommates reported that his car was still in front of his house. At that point, I said, "Oh my God, Stacey, I dreamed that Todd died last night." She said, "Don't say that!" But I told her about my dream anyway because it was a good dream. Todd was so happy in it. I think at that point I knew that Todd had gone, but I didn't want to believe it. Plus, Stacey and I hadn't heard any definitive news. We didn't know he was dead and I had a hard time facing the possibility.

               Eventually, later that afternoon, Todd's roommate, Cody broke down Todd's bedroom door and found him. This got back to Stacey and she called me to tell me that Todd was dead. I knew then that my dream was a gift from Todd and God. It would reassure me, and everyone who knew and loved Todd, that he was OK. I know this sounds completely unbelievable and flaky. If it hadn't happened to me, I'd have a hard time believing it. I am very relieved that I told my boyfriend about it before I knew anything was wrong and that I told my sister about it before we knew Todd was dead.

               I went to my pastor, Pastor Sims, at the Lutheran church to talk about this experience. Was I losing my mind? What was this??? He told me that I was incredibly lucky, that only very few people are able to have these experiences. He couldn't explain it of course, because there is no human explanation for this type of experience. Nevertheless, he tried to put my experience in perspective. He told me to think of the human world as the inner sphere and the spiritual world as an outer sphere. He didn't mean this literally, but for illustration purposes. He said that for whatever reason, Todd was able to reach me from the "outer sphere", or I was able to move into the "outer sphere" to reach him, or we met somewhere in the middle. Pastor Sims said I was incredibly blessed because my dream seemed to be proof that Todd is with God. For whatever reason, maybe coincidentally, my dream seems to go along with my Lutheran beliefs. Like most other religions, Lutherans believe that when you die, you go to God. In my dream, Todd seemed to be with God, or at least on some higher, spiritual plane where he was happy, carefree and full of pure joy. Had no encumbrances where he was. He was finally free of everything that had worried him in this life. I can't stress enough how absolutely calm and happy and wonderful he seemed! I had never seen Todd like that.

               I also told my parents' Lutheran pastor, Pastor Bohannon about the dream. He told me basically the same things as Pastor Sims. Pastor Bohannon and I also talked about the concept of time. I didn't want to think of Todd missing me the same way I missed him. Pastor Bohannon explained that, according to the Bible, human time is called chronos. Chronos is how man measures time here on earth: minutes, hours, weeks, months, years. God's time, however, is called chryos. This is all time and no time. It is time fulfilled. What this means to us is that there is no concept of human time in chryos, or "God's time." Therefore, when a person goes to God, that person doesn't miss us. According to the concept of "chryos", the next time you see your loved one, it will seem to them that they just saw you. No time will have passed for them. I thought that was interesting. Even if it's not true, I choose to believe it is because it comforts me. I hope it can comfort you too. Love, Kristy, Todd's big sister

               This is a link to the website devoted to his band and the section about Todd. It includes photos of Todd, letters from his fans and the letter I wrote to him which was read at his funeral.

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