Photo Credit: HarperCollins
What happens to us after we die? It's a question asked by 4-year-olds and 74-year-olds alike, and one no one really knows the answer to. Bonnie McEneaney's book, Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11, presents compelling evidence that there is, however, life after death.
After losing her husband on Sept. 11, McEneaney, an Ivy League-educated businesswoman, found her lifelong skepticism of the paranormal challenged -- not just by her own deceased husband, but also by countless others who reported receiving messages from loved ones lost on that tragic day. McEneaney's book is a collection of those stories, and the inspiration for the upcoming A&E series, "Beyond: Messages from 9/11," airing Sept. 10, one day before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Below is an excerpt.
Excerpted from Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11 Copyright @ 2010 by Bonnie McEneaney. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
After my husband, Eamon McEneaney, died in the World Trade Center, I was almost immediately in touch with other 9/11 family members. Within days I started hearing about their spiritual experiences and, in fact, began to have some of my own. I’d like to say that even the most subtle of my experiences have touched me greatly and helped me through my own healing process. They have given me a firm sense that the spirit never truly dies and that our spiritual connection with those we love is never lost. Most of the people who are certain they have known after-death communication say these experiences have given them comfort and peace. Mine have done the same for me. Part of the purpose of this book is to share these feelings with readers who are struggling with loss and may also need assurance and comfort.
Accepting the finality of death has always presented a challenge to the human psyche. Nothing can change it. It just “is.” Anyone who has experienced a loss knows what it feels like. Time and time again, we ask ourselves the following questions: “Where did he go?” “What happened to her?” “How could this be?” When a loved one dies, communication is terminated forever. This is a difficult concept for us to process and believe. But what if this isn’t the case? What if communication doesn’t end, but simply is transformed? What if we discovered that most, if not all, of the people who have left our earthly existence have sent their loved ones messages—messages that we have overlooked because of our own limited human understanding. What if they regularly send signs that we miss because we don’t know how to interpret the evidence? What if they are trying to communicate with us, and we’re just not paying attention? Why is this possibility such a difficult one to grasp?
Several of the people who strongly believed that they were getting messages from their deceased loved ones were reluctant to broadcast their experiences. Respected members of their communities, they didn’t want others to think that they were delusional. I was not surprised by these feelings and totally understood how they felt. At the time, although I considered myself a spiritual person, I was also more than a little bit skeptical about the possibility of other dimensions or discovering that there was “more” after this lifetime; I also tended to view people who had strong beliefs in the “paranormal” as being a bit “off” or “different.” I had no experiences that helped me relate to their thinking. After all, I was a business executive—not the kind of person who tried to solve problems by consulting psychics or mediums.
Nonetheless, as my discussions with others continued, I was extremely motivated to do more personal exploration into what was going on. As I’ve pressed forward, I’ve been quite taken aback by what I’ve observed in my own life. As a result of my own experiences, combined with all the interviews I’ve completed, I can no longer question the existence of a spiritual, perhaps divine, component to all of this that defies human logic. The widespread premonitions described by victims before the terrorist attacks are very compelling. What some 9/11 family members have experienced after the attacks may be even more so. These people have told me that they have seen and felt things that they can neither ignore nor explain and that they now approach the world with an enhanced spiritual perspective. As this book was getting ready to go into production, I was shown an amazing photograph of a little girl named Alexis sitting in a field with a beam of light radiating down on her. Her father, Rick Thorpe, perished in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Her mother, Linda, took the photograph in the summer of 2002. They were in Ireland for a family wedding.
“It was a cloudy Irish day,” Linda told me, “and my daughter just walked out to this open grassy area by the church and plopped down. It was very unlike her to do something like that, which is why I took the picture. When she walked out like that, I thought, ‘What is she doing?’ She looked like an angel, but I saw no beam of light.” When Linda got the picture back, she couldn’t explain the beam of light. Her father-in-law took the picture and the camera to an expert who assured him that there was nothing wrong with the camera or the film.
Linda was originally very skeptical and disbelieving of the possibility of continued spiritual connection, but this photograph, along with Alexis in a field in Shannon, Ireland other signs that cannot be explained, has altered her perspective. “Initially I thought, ‘This is weird,’ ” Linda said. “Now I know they are out there. It’s magical. Alexis’s daddy was at the wedding. He will always be watching out for her and me.”
Surely, all the inexplicable stories surrounding 9/11 can’t be explained away by the word “coincidence.” Many have spoken of having a sense that greater wisdom from another realm of existence has been pointing a finger and saying: Notice this. Fate is winking. Pay attention. Something is going on here, something that can’t be explained. It shouldn’t be ignored and deserves greater examination.