THE REPTILE AND THE ROSE

 

© 2006 Dennis James Browne

My flower,
My sweet little flower.
You were my life.
I will always be with you.

 


INTRODUCTION

This is a factual account, but it's not in the form of many memoirs or documentaries that have a logically structured beginning, middle and ending...

Instead this story is more like a free-flowing monologue with frequent pauses and thoughts about my daughter that suddenly seem to pop into my mind, interspersed with factual documentation that relates to my scientific discoveries about God and an afterlife.

The structure of this story reflects my state of mind when I wrote it, and as I'm beginning to realize as time goes on, this is the very pattern of life itself, which rarely has a logical beginning, middle and ending, despite all our efforts to make it that way.

 



Chapter 1

I cast a cold eye on life since my daughter's death.

To me Tara Marie was the most beautiful child in the world--look at her picture on the cover, you'll see that it's true. With her beautiful face and pretty blonde hair, she was always smiling and friendly toward everyone, and everyone loved her in return. She was only twenty-three years old when she died. Her twenty-fourth birthday was less than two weeks away.

On a Friday Tara and I had dinner at a place called The Cove in Sea Bright, New Jersey. We sat out back on the deck and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Shrewsbury River. We ordered something simple, cheeseburgers and salads I think, and we were both in a great mood. At times over the years Tara and I had been far apart, but in the last few weeks a lot of things had been happening in her life that were drawing us closer together. Now we were getting along great--better than we ever had before. After we finished dinner I gave her a ride back home to her apartment in Long Branch. I can still see her running up the front sidewalk to the house, laughing and waving goodbye with that little baseball cap on her head...

That was the last time I saw her alive.

The next day, Saturday, Tara spoke to several friends and they all said she seemed cheerful and upbeat. Early in the afternoon she went down to Monmouth Beach with Dennis, a friend from the office. They sat down on the beach next to the ocean and talked for some time. He said that she was in great spirits and told him that on Monday she was looking forward to enrolling in college for her next semester.That same day she had several phone conversations with her boyfriend Mike, who met with her later on that night. As usual, they argued about something, cooled off and then made plans to meet with his family the next day, Sunday. It was Mike's twenty-eighth birthday...

But that night Tara died.

And I died with her.

Let no one ever tell you that they know how you must feel when your daughter or son dies...

They can never know.



Chapter 2

Every day after that I went down to the boardwalk in Long Branch. I walked for miles in the morning as the sun came up, and then again in the evening, long after the sun went down. My legs were moving, but I felt nothing. At times my chest filled with so much pain that I just burst out running--and kept running until I was exhausted. A stranger could have driven a knife through my heart and I don't think I would have felt a thing. My mind, spinning through my tears, was on fire with the same questions...

How did Tara die?

Why did she die?

I found out that around six in the afternoon on that Saturday she had gone into a local grocery store and cashed a check for two hundred dollars. Before that she told her boyfriend she was going shopping for his birthday present. Then she laughed, hugged her girlfriend who had cashed the check, and left the store. But we found very little money in her apartment--less than thirty dollars--and there was no present.

For weeks before Tara died, there had been danger signals flashing. Her boyfriend and I found an empty pint bottle of vodka in her sink, but there was a full, unopened bottle of vodka in her refrigerator. The police found a bottle of Librium next to her bed, but it was still half full...

If she wanted to commit suicide, she would have taken the entire bottle.



Chapter 3

I called her on Sunday morning. There was no answer. The day started to pass. Then in the early afternoon Mike called and asked if I had heard from her. He was at a pay phone about a block from her apartment. I rushed over in my car, hardly able to see the road. My heart was pounding with a terrible, cold fear. We found the front door at the bottom of the stairs open, but the door to her apartment was locked. The apartment manager arrived, we continued to knock, but there was no answer. My mouth was dry and I became numb all over, like I was having a heart attack. I knew that something terrible was waiting for us behind that door. We knocked some more, but there was still no answer. Finally Mike climbed out onto the roof and in through a window. I heard him scream. The door opened...

She was lying on her bed in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Her eyes were open and glazed, her lips and face were purple, and there were purple splotches of dead blood inside her legs.

I just stood there.

My little flower.

...Oh God, how can you do this?



Chapter 4

In all those miles I walked and all those miles I continue to walk under the sun beside the ocean, one question keeps burning through my tears: I miss Tara terribly and I want to be with her again more than anything in my life.

Will I ever see her again?

To many of you this question may sound naive and foolish, but it can only be understood by a parent who has lost a child; only then will you know that I simply have no choice in the matter. I'll search for the answer until the day I die, and if I don't find it, life has no meaning for me.

Although I was raised a Catholic, I'm not a very religious person. The thought of God or the hereafter never really had much importance to me until Tara died, and then, suddenly, they both meant everything. Tara was given a requiem mass in Saint James Catholic Church in Red Bank, and for that I’ll always be deeply grateful to the Church. But when the young priest began his sermon I sat there listening, desperately longing to hear something, anything that would give me comfort. Here was the vast experience and wisdom of the Catholic Church. Please tell me in words my tortured heart can feel and understand how could such a beautiful, innocent child have been taken from this world...

Where is she now?

But instead all I heard was a rhetorical, lilting sermon about God and heaven--holy men who lived hundreds of years ago, and quotes from the Bible, dusty, ancient words I couldn't relate to--words that offered no reasonable explanation or comfort...

I tried with all my heart, but the more I listened, the more abstract and distant these words seemed, until at last the only words I could hear were my own...

The Catholic Church…

So beautiful...

So out of touch.



Chapter 5

The coroner told me that Tara had died of pulmonary and cerebral edema, but these were only secondary effects of the primary cause, which he suspected was cardiac arrest. I was told that it would be months before her toxicology report came in, telling me exactly what was in Tara's blood, and, ultimately, the cause of her death.

The police and the coroner were both amazed that our family physician had prescribed Librium for Tara, knowing that she had an alcohol problem. At the time, neither one of us knew what a deadly combination alcohol and Librium could be...

And since half the bottle of Librium capsules was still at her bedside, the number she must have taken couldn't have been more than one, possibly two capsules...

So the coroner ruled out suicide almost from the start.

Furious and groping for answers, I contacted my law firm. One of the senior partners told me that his own son had died at the age of five. Then he said something that stuck in my mind for a long time...

He told me that in such cases, I should expect surprises--a lot of surprises.

After I got off the phone I remember watching the news on television. An apartment manager threatened a teenage drug dealer in Brooklyn and in revenge he set fire to the apartment building. Firemen were carrying out bodies on stretchers, and one of them was a beautiful, small Hispanic child. His eyes were open and glazed, exactly like Tara's when I found her...

Later that afternoon in Long Branch I was pulling into a parking lot and I saw several children gathered around a mother holding a small child whose head was horribly enlarged and misshapen from birth...

I wept.

How could there be a God?



EXCERPTS FROM SELECTED FORWARD CHAPTERS:


Chapter 45

When I first started my journey I looked for common denominator answers to important spiritual questions among the religions of the world, but found none. Now, however, I wondered if I could apply this same logical approach to mediums. Doesn’t it make sense that if enough legitimate mediums from different countries who lived hundreds of years apart asked many spirits many questions that after awhile we should start to get a fairly consistent picture of what life after death is really like?

I decided to test this theory--and I began with the movement known as Spiritualism. Spiritualism began around 1850 during the golden age of mediums and started off as a belief that the dead appear to certain people, usually a medium. But the roots of Spiritualism go back to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a Swedish nobleman. A man of exceptional intelligence, he spoke nine languages and was also a famous inventor, craftsman and scientist. When he was fifty-six, Emanuel Swedenborg decided to start exploring the spiritual world. He read everything he could get his hands on and began interpreting his own dreams and exploring the twilight zone between sleep and consciousness...

The spirits that spoke to Emanuel Swedenborg respond in an almost identical manner as the ones who spoke to other noted, authentic mediums like Carlos Mirabelli, Leonora Piper and D.D. Home--ordinary spirits that look and talk as if they’re still alive--but Emanuel Swedenborg’s spirits describe a life after death that’s far more detailed in nature.

. After we die, most of us linger in a spiritual plane so close to earth that for a while we may not even know we’re dead. This is one of the lowest levels of spiritual existence, where most spirits take time to adapt and then move on to higher spiritual worlds of existence--and here is where the major differences start...

Unlike our lives here on earth, the next new world is so beautiful that Spiritualists call it Summerland. Here decent people associate only with other decent people and they live in an unimaginably beautiful land with streams, trees and brightly colored flowers of pure light, and further along there are beautiful cities, also built of brightly colored light. All lives are filled with tranquility and love--there is no violence or discord, and all souls can develop spiritually in order to move upward to higher planes of reality--an educational process similar to a great spiritual university.

Emanuel Swedenborg was told by his spirits that as you graduate upward through each of these worlds you come closer and closer to The Supreme Light, God...

At first it seemed that no matter what we do here on earth, everyone simply dies and eventually moves upward to heaven.

But this isn't true. Emanuel Swedenborg's spirits also describe a world that appears to be very similar to hell. The Spiritualists called it Winterland, and if you’re incorrigibly evil here on earth, you’ll be trapped on this lowest level of spiritual existence after you die. The landscape of this world is gloomy, cold and miserable and is populated by souls of a similar nature: murderers, rapists, drug addicts, suicides and others...

These then are the afterlife worlds that the spirits of Emanual Swedenborg described after years of research...

Now all I had to do was find out if such worlds really exist.



Chapter 49

My research on the handful of legitimate mediums in history gave me a tantalizing view of what life after death might be like, but I was still skeptical, and I continued to look for more evidence. What I finally discovered was far more interesting than I could ever have imagined....

One of the major objections that scientists repeatedly level against anomalous phenomena like spirits and mediums is that these events do not repeat themselves in a way consistent enough to be predicted by scientific laws. Scientists also bristle at the unpredictable nature of quantum particles for the same reason, which is also why an entire CIA project based on remote psychic spy viewing was abandoned, despite some remarkable, but unpredictable results (Internet search: Remote Viewing, Star Gate Program.).

Unfortunately, some very real phenomena in our universe are as unpredictable as human nature itself, and my research was clearly telling me that the sooner scientists recognize this fact, the better off we'll all be. The repeatability of events that arise from another plane of existence are not controlled by human laws, but are subject to the whims and desires of spirits from the other side who can be as totally stupid, obnoxious and unpredictable as the people who are trying to communicate with them.

The twentieth century British scientist, Dr. Robert Crookall, and a brilliant nineteenth century French educator by the name of Allan Kardec are unique in the history of afterlife research because they were the first to use scientific protocols in sifting through thousands of reputable sources to compile consistent views of life after death. And even though the research sources that each man used were completely different and they lived a hundred years apart in different countries, their two portraits of the afterlife are remarkably similar.

In the 1961 edition of The Supreme Adventure, Dr. Crookall points out that most of the rambling information we receive from afterlife spirits through channelers or mediums is due to the fact that the vast majority of the spirits in contact with these people are harmless, prankish, or even malicious souls with no special powers or purpose except to make a personal playground of communicating with their human contacts. Dr. Crookall quotes another scientist, W.T. Snead from his work, Communication with the Next World :

"All except a small number of the 'dead' are as ignorant as are men on earth. That is why so many séances are disappointing..."

From literally thousands of mediumistic and other documented experiences with disincarnate spirits, these two researchers also arrive at a virtually identical, but far more detailed picture of the afterlife than previous researchers. There are three distinct worlds, each of which is closely linked to the vibratory level of light waves: 1) the bleak gray Winterland world close to earth, populated by condemned spirits of the lowest vibratory level who appear "reddish-gray" in color; 2) a much brighter, paradise-like Summerland world of light and joy adjacent to the gray world that consists of "gray-blue to bright blue" souls who have led decent lives here on earth, and 3) an even brighter, more spiritually advanced heavenly world, consisting of spirits that are "white to golden-white" in appearance. Above these planes of existence is the world of the Ultimate Light in which God alone exists.

The bleak Winterland world closest to earth is a place inhabited by spirits that fall into two main groups: the first consists of recently deceased, mostly well-intentioned beings of average intelligence in transition to higher planes of existence, while the second group consists of spirits that are trapped in this desolate region as a result of their own making. As Milton's Lucifer points out, "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven." Many of these souls aren't necessarily bad, but are still so materialistically obsessed with worldly joys and physical things that they still cling to the earthly regions, completely blind to the heavenly joys within their grasp if only they would change their own minds. Still others in this category include malicious, selfish spirits that remain as angry and stupid after death as they were in life; the spirits of suicides, rapists, murderers and tyrants who for many lifetimes must seek atonement from each and every one of their victims--a thought many of them find so infuriating that they indefinitely condemn themselves to a hell of their own making.

Dr. Crookall and many others conclude that "probably 99 out of every 100" spirits in contact with the living are mediocre beings from the lowest level of afterlife existence--and many of these spirits are out to intentionally mislead and deceive the living for their own entertainment. Often mediums and channelers who are themselves of average intelligence and spiritual development forget this basic rule and are deceived by spiritual tricksters who proclaim themselves to be famous historical figures, prophets, saints or even God. Still other mediums who expect their spiritual controls to appear and perform on cue may suddenly find themselves alone, subject to the ridicule of their audience, and if they try to bluff their way through a performance, are likely to create even more problems.

A brilliant Frenchman, Leon-Denizarth-Hippolyte Rival, better known by his pen name, Allan Kardec (1804-1869), became a prominent educator who was extremely skeptical about the medium craze that was sweeping through Europe. Eventually, however, after personally experiencing several spirit communications, he was asked to write a study from a collection of dozens of notebooks, transcripts and other records by several famous mediums. He collected and compared all this dialogue in two publications, Le Livre des Mediums (The Mediums' Book) and Le Livre des Esprits (The Spirits' Book). The spirit guides in these books define religion in a very convincing, common sense way and they send a clear, strong message that we should lead lives that are as charitable and unselfish as possible toward others who are less fortunate. Both books have been published in more than twenty-five editions and are still widely read in over forty countries. Religious followers of Kardec's teachings do not try to convert others or preach the exclusivity of their faith, but have grown so large in number that they today rival Catholicism in Brazil and the Philippines. Although in some quarters the words "Spiritism" and "Spiritualism" have become dirty words thanks to the powerful spin machines of organized religions and others, believers in Kardecismo in Brazil have helped millions of the poor and have set up hospitals in which physicians receive little if any salary and accept all patients, regardless of race or ability to pay.

One of Kardec's most famous followers was Chico Xavier, long considered Brazil's greatest spiritual leader and most respected medium. Barely educated, Xavier used his gifts only to help others for no personal gain, and during his lifetime published over 400 books, the substantial proceeds of which he gave to charity. These books, written by spirits on a wide range of subjects, include poetry by famous deceased Brazilian poets--poetry so accurate that a widow of one of the dead poets actually sued Xavier for royalty payments. (The case was thrown out.) In 1981 and 1982 Xavier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and Islamic, Jewish and Christian leaders paid him the highest tributes. Xavier lived a life of virtual self-imposed poverty, and when he died in June, 2002, his funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands of Brazilians and mourners from all over the world.

In our butterfly world everyone loves the prettiest butterflies, but recent Wall Street scandals show us how wrong appearances can be if they rely on net worth. This virtual accounting system relies on huge piles of cash, dubious assets and false numbers to transform reptiles into royalty. In contrast, the real accounting system relies only on the basic rules of love and decency. Using this far more accurate accounting approach, the real billionaires of the world are the quiet people who help others, leaving virtual billionaires to thump their chests across the headlines of the world, completely unaware of the fact that on the day they die they'll wake up alone and flat broke in the real world, a strange and desolate place without Mercedes or room service.

In their extensive research on spirits from the other side, both Robert Crookall and Allen Kardec repeat the same message as Emanuel Swedenborg and George Anderson over and over again: God is in complete control of the information that all spirits reveal to human contacts, and it's extremely unlikely that any of these entities, no matter how spiritually developed, will be allowed to reveal future events, great inventions, murderers, hidden treasures, winning lottery numbers or anything else that's going to result in windfall profits or upset the normal course of earthly events that we ourselves must determine..

Direct contact with spirits from the afterlife can be a source of great spiritual growth for those who sincerely seek such light, and it can also offer desperately needed messages of comfort from departed relatives we still deeply love--but it can also be a dangerous game for the greedy and foolish.



Chapter 51

All this evidence made me more convinced than ever that Tara is still alive in a world about which we here on earth know very little, a world of spiritual beings--some good, some bad and some downright bizarre--who watch over us and sometimes intercede in our lives in the strangest ways imaginable...

A while ago I told you about visiting Tara’s grave one Friday and finding some roses that were still alive and fresh after a week in freezing temperatures. I thought these flowers were a trick of my imagination because there’s no logical way that roses could stay alive for a week in the dead of winter...

But today I ran across two stories that suddenly made me wonder all over again...

The first story has to do with the famous author Taylor Caldwell and her husband. During their long marriage they had a shrub of flowers--resurrection lilies--that never once blossomed. In fact for twenty-one years not one of these resurrection lilies blossomed, making them the endless butt of her husband’s humor:

“You can’t prove the resurrection by these lilies.”

One day, however, Taylor Caldwell was astonished to see that these resurrection lilies had suddenly all blossomed at once...

It was on the day of her husband’s funeral.

Dr. Nandor Fodor and his wife raised dozens of roses out on their terrace. These roses only lasted a few days, lost their petals and quickly died. New buds then appeared and the whole cycle was repeated. But in 1967 when Dr. Fodor died, all these roses suddenly lasted for several weeks, without a single petal to be seen anywhere on the ground. Then on the same day they all died at once...

As Dr. Fodor’s widow cut off the dead roses, she asked for a single rose--and one week later a single rose suddenly appeared.

It too lasted for over a week...

Exactly like Tara’s roses.