Three years ago, God gave me what I still consider to be the most profound spiritual experience of my life. This blog post here is a reflection on what happened back then, and a commentary on the blog post I originally wrote regarding it.
For three years after we lost him, I refused to let go of my grief and self-imposed guilt over losing my high school classmate Will to suicide in 2013. Will and I were relatively close in middle school, and when we saw each other outside of a grocery store two weeks before his passing, we exchanged warm smiles. Because I’d ran into him at that time, I held on to a belief that I could’ve done something to help him, and was thus responsible by inaction for what happened. I ended up making myself suffer from survivor’s guilt.
On October 4th 2016, all of the grief and guilt that I’d been refusing to acknowledge was alarmingly brought to the surface by means of a vision-like dream I had. After thinking to myself in the dream about God’s mercy, I was transported into a massive building where I saw Pope Francis walking around amicably, and a speaking statue of Saint Michael the Archangel stood. The statue of Saint Michael told me simply that “it will happen soon”, and boy, it really did.
When I stepped outside of that building in the dream, I saw that I was in a peaceful, softly-lit place where everyone stood and sat chatting amicably with one another. The instant I realized where I was, I broke down sobbing helplessly, shouting, “Will! Please, somebody tell me where Will is!” The people around me desperately looked around for him until my roommate’s alarm went off, snapping me out of the dream.
When I woke up, I saw in our bedroom mirror that my eyes looked like I’d been crying for several minutes. And then, for the first time, I felt the voice of God whisper to me, “Child, you’re on the verge of tears.” Hearing those words echo in my soul led to me collapsing on my bed, sobbing my heart out as I whispered Will’s name over and over again. Every last bit of those repressed emotions came surging to the surface.
The following night, I woke up to see Will himself kneeling next to my bed, looking awestruck. Although I paranoidly dismissed what I saw as something evil trying to toy with my emotions, I knew in my heart that it had to be him.
When I woke up again that day, I searched the internet for anything of Catholic significance that correlated with October 4th and October 5th. I found out that the month of October is referred to as the Holy Rosary month for Catholics. Each day in October is dedicated to a particular saint, who themselves have specific patronages. My research revealed that October 4th is for Saint Francis of Assisi, patron of those who die alone, and that October 5th is for Saint Faustina, known as the Secretary of Divine Mercy.
On the night of October 5th, as I finally realized why everything was occurring on those specific days, I heard the words of God in my soul once again. This time, I heard him gently whisper to me, “I love you, child.” With that, I started sobbing again, and I finally admitted to God that I hadn’t been willing to forgive myself for feeling that I could’ve done something to save Will. For 30 minutes, I wept and opened up my heart to God at last.
I still remember hearing myself beg Him to “take me back there”, referencing my firm belief that I’d taken a 10 second trip into Heaven in the dream He’d given me. I was filled with heartache and desperation to see Will again, especially after realizing beyond a shadow of a doubt that his soul was truly at peace.
After re-reading the original blog post I made on this, I remembered that this wasn’t the first time God worked to get me to admit my grief regarding Will. Ever since I went to college, He used subtle ways to gently remind me of Will, through individuals who poignantly reminded me of him. My second roommate’s best friend was a girl who was Will’s female doppelganger. And midway through the Creative Writing course I took my sophomore year, our Professor brought in a guest speaker who resembled Will even more, with his same soft-spoken tone. She looked like an older, female version of Will. The significance wasn’t lost on me, and I still remember having to fight back tears as I listened to her that day.
I adore this entire experience, but reading the blog post I wrote for it is something I avoid doing most of the time. I recently reread the part in the aforementioned talk with God where I begged Him to take me back to Heaven so that I could see Will again. I got choked up once again recalling how deep that wish of mine was in that moment.
Looking back, it was this experience that solidified my interest in Catholic spirituality. I scoured the internet for testimonies on the lives of the Saints, especially Saint Faustina. I bought a digital version of her diary, and although I haven’t finished it yet, the portion that I’ve read already was deeply comforting. Her direct talks with Jesus about the nature of His Mercy made it clear to me that we as humans have neither the authority nor the power to apply conditions to something that will always be unconditional.
This experience also completely destroyed any fears I might’ve had about death back then. Because God made it abundantly clear to me that Will is at peace, no matter what anybody else would imply because he died by suicide, I now have permanent proof that God desires mercy for all. This also happens to be a major tenet of Saint Faustina’s discussions with Jesus. As He told her, His mercy always comes before His justice. People deny God’s mercy too often, something that Jesus told Faustina wounds His heart.
When the time is right, I’ll finally be reunited with Will. At last, I’ll be able to hug him closely and tell him all the things I’ve ached to say to him. I look forward to the day when I can walk again in Heaven, with Will and all the other loved ones I miss dearly by my side.