A Conversation With Jenny

A View of Life After Death

Jenny's Death

My wife Jenny died in September 2000 after a long fight with breast cancer.

We had been through a lot together as she fought to beat the cancer. As August came we realised that it was only a matter of time before she died and so started to make preparations for her inevitable end.

We had discussions about what was to happen. Her main concern was her family and that we should be all right without her. My main concern was that she should die peacefully and without any undue pain and prolonging of her suffering. We were both adamant that she should die at home in her own bed.

Among the things that we discussed in that last month was what happened to you after you die. We had different views on this. She believed that death was the end and that there was nothing beyond it. I, on the other hand, was adamant that our physical body may have died but our spirit went on. Although I had very little evidence from my own experience, I adopted this stance as much as anything because it meant that death did not need to be feared. It was not an article of faith. It was merely a very practical approach to a complex issue.

I cared for her day and night, although during the day this was eased with the help that we received from the local nursing staff. Throughout August I shared her bed, but toward the end of August I was finding that I was getting less and less sleep. In the end it became necessary to get a carer to come in overnight so that I could get some sleep in a different room. As we lived in a Guest House this was not a problem. We had plenty to choose from. Clearly she was near the end. I had five nights of sleep. On the sixth night I was called at 5 o'clock. Her breathing was getting erratic. It seemed that this was it. Within half an hour, she had moved on. Where she had gone I knew not, but her body was at peace.

She was lying curled up on her side, with one hand tucked underneath the pillow. She had a very peaceful expression on her face. That is an impression that has remained with me. I was so glad that in those last few moments she was happy. The nurse asked if I would like her to lay out the body. To do so would have disturbed someone who was at peace for no purpose other than that is the way that it is done.

I let her lie there for the rest of that day. A few friends visited her. Many declined. Those who visited her said that they were glad that they had seen her like that and not laid out. Like me they went away with a pleasant memory of a beautiful person who was just sleeping.

I one respect I was quite disappointed. I had heard so many stories about those last few moments before death. There were abundant stories about those who had gone before being present at the moment of death to escort the newcomer. I had hoped to see or hear some confirmation of this. If it happened it was in her sleep and I had no indication of it.

Some Odd Events

Our birthdays were two days apart in April. Jenny's was on the 22nd and mine on the 24th. Because of this we had usually had one birthday party or celebration, if we had one at all. We often would have something on the 23rd.

We were both active in our local musical drama group. In the production of The Wizard of Oz, she played the Wicked Witch, while I played the Wizard. We made a great singing duo as well. With her death we lost a star performer, none the less she has been with us at those rehearsals and performances ever since.

On the evening of Monday 23rd April 2001, I had been at a rehearsal. Emily, our daughter had been back from University for a few days, but had gone away to stay with a friend. I had been alone in the house since the previous Friday.

That evening as I went up to bed, I noticed that there was a glow coming from one of the bedrooms. It reflected on the open door. This was very strange as it was a room that had not been used for some time. I certainly had not noticed this same glow on previous notes. In addition the switch for the landing light was only a few feet from the door of this room. As I turned out the landing light I would have seen that the light was on in the bedroom. There was clearly no way that it could have been switched on by Emily and left on for three days without me noticing it.

I went in to investigate. The light was coming from a bedside table lamp that was in between two beds. This in itself was strange. Unless I was having lapses of memory, I had not been in the room for several days. Even if I had been in the room after dark I would have used the main switch at the door. There was no reason for me to divert between two beds to put a table lamp on. I can think of no reason why I should have gone into an unoccupied room, gone between two beds to switch on the light and then completely forgotten about it. That was just not possible.

I switched the light off and thought no more about it other than that it was all very strange.

The following day I walked into the kitchen. I had been working on some information to be placed in a local exhibition. I had typed and printed the information sheets on A4 paper. I then had then copied onto A3 paper. There were a few of these A3 sheets in a pile in the kitchen. Strangely the top sheet was curled over so that the ends of the sheet were touching, but the paper had not been creased. When I unfolded it, the sheet lay flat on the pile again.

My first reaction was that the wind had caught the sheet, lifted the edge and folded it over, so I tried to recreate this situation. I tried various ways of producing a wind. I fanned the pile from various angles with a paper fan. I brought over an electric fan. Whatever I tried, nothing would make the paper rise up and curl over in the way that I had found it. I either had a little fluttering at the edge and the paper would settle down again, or the sheet would rise up slightly as if on a cushion of air and settle down again. There was just no way that I could make the paper curl over.

On the Wednesday, I found a packet of cereal in a cupboard had fallen from an otherwise stable pile. While this was not in itself remarkable, once I had replaced it there was nothing that I could do that would cause it to fall again. I accepted that it was possible that I had knocked the packet, but could not remember doing so.

On the Thursday, I came in from walking the dog. I went to hang up my coat. Just below the coat hook was a pair of my wellington boots. When I take them off I always stand them neatly with the feet facing forward in parallel. There is nothing meticulous about this. If you pick up a pair of wellies by pinching them together at the top of the legs they will naturally move into that position. When placed on the floor they will stay in that position. What was unusual about the wellies was that the feet were obviously splayed out in a V shape at right angles. Unless my memory was failing or I was cracking up there was no way that I would have placed them like that.

On the Friday I went to collect Emily. When we arrived back at the house, I pulled up outside and noticed that the front gate was closed. We never normally closed the front gate. I simply said to Emily “She's gone”. This was true as I did not notice anything strange after that. It is quite possible that while I was out that day someone had gone to the door, got no reply and then left, shutting the gate behind them. That is the most likely explanation, but it did coincide with the end of these incidents.

A Chance Conversation

Two or three weeks later I told the story of the strange events to a friend. Within a few days she was at my door with a copy of Bella in her hand. Neither she nor I are readers of Bella except when there is nothing else to read. In this case she had been waiting at the hairdressers and picked up Bella. She came across the Rita Rogers page and thought that I might be interested.

Rita is a medium and each week in Bella she contributes to a page that contains the reports of two sittings that she has conducted by phone. Readers write in to the magazine to request a sitting with Rita and a lucky few get selected.

My friend bought a copy of Bella for me. The magazine was open and folded back at this particular page. She said that she had thought about our conversation and wondered if this was of interest. I read the article and then put the magazine down. As is quite common in my house it eventually got buried under a pile of papers.

Unusually, over the next two weeks, part of the pile of papers fell to the floor three times leaving the magazine exposed at the top of the remaining pile. This had never happened before and has never happened since. On the third occasion I gave in and immediately wrote a very brief note to Bella, giving the absolute minimum of information about myself, as the magazine instructed. This was in May. I never expected to hear any more about it. At the end of August, some three months after I had written in, I received a telephone call from the editor of the Rita Rogers column. He told me that I had been selected for a sitting. The following Tuesday evening just after 6pm I was to telephone Rita and take it from there. The only thing that I would need was a notepad with plenty of paper.

The Sitting

A few weeks earlier I had picked up a book on a second hand stall that contained a chapter on investigating mediums. This gave some very good tips, from the obvious such as don't volunteer any information, to the not so obvious such as to be careful about what you confirm and the way that you do it. With these tips in mind I prepared myself.

I telephoned Rita that Tuesday evening and we had a very pleasant conversation which lasted for about 1¾ hours. During that time she told me many things that she could not possibly have known. She even told me things that I had forgotten many years ago.

When I related this to other people I had various reactions. A small number were very interested, but the majority were sceptical.

Among my circle of friends there are two ministers of religion. One Church of England and the other United Reformed Church. I found that relating this story to them placed them both in a very awkward position. Someone they knew and respected was telling them a story that was contrary to their belief system. I knew that my story would be unacceptable to them but neither would have suggested that I wasn't telling the truth.

Others that I related this story to, suggested that they could have researched these facts. This is extremely unlikely given the circumstances.

In the first place why would the staff of a popular weekly magazine even bother to research something like this. It costs money to carry out this kind of research, for which there would be no return. The vast majority of their readers would neither know nor care if it was true. It could be fact or fiction. Some would believe it, others would not. The ultimate aim of the publishers of magazines of this type is to sell the magazine in vast quantities. The stories have got to be good and it probably helps if they are true, but it is not essential.

There is also another good reason why it could not have been researched. Let us assume that the publishers did approve the cost of research. I live in a small town with an adult population of approximately 1,300. I am known personally to many of those people. If someone had been around asking questions about me, I would have known. It is extremely unlikely that all who were approached could have been sworn to secrecy, and managed to keep to it. Some of the things that I was told were known to only two or three people. In one case I am the only person still alive who knew about what I was told, and I had forgotten.

The whole process would require an enormous conspiracy. Most people I know could not manage that. That on its own is enough to rule out the possibility of any research being carried out.

Sadly for the sceptics we must look for another explanation. Rita got the information from the only other people who could have told her - and they are all dead! So why do I believe it?

What convinced me that this was genuine was not just the big statements, but the little things. It was things like Rita describing the way that Jenny spoke. It was the fact that there were other people there on the other side. One of these described an incident that had happened many years before. Not only had I forgotten about the incident, but I had also forgotten about this particular person. It was not until after I had put the phone down that it all came back to me. I am the only person still alive who knows about that incident, and I had forgotten.

Rita was able to describe where my son was at that time. Interestingly I disputed what she was saying until I thought about it. I then realised that I was wrong, that I had been thinking along the wrong lines and that she was correct.

Rita was also able to describe a significant project that I had on at that time, that was not unrelated to Jenny. What was interesting was that she told me that Jenny did not like what was happening. This did not surprise me as I was already aware that there was a problem that needed fixing and that Jenny would have a fit if she saw it. In the event I was right she did complain bitterly. I had to get quite stroppy and tell her that it was going to be sorted out. At that she calmed down.

There were only three people who knew that there was a problem at that time, and I have no reason to believe that either of them were approached by Rita Rogers or anyone carrying out research on her behalf.

In the end there was only one conclusion that I could come to and that was that everything was genuine.

philosophy/a_conversation_with_jenny.txt · Last modified: 2011/01/21 23:03 (external edit)