Dedicated to my brother, Kevin Messenger. 1959-2005. We Miss You.
I debated about this post, especially the title. This is a personal story, and I don’t want people to think I’m making light of it or using the story to gain attention. That’s not the case. I really just want to share it with you because it’s a part of who I am.
I’ve always ‘sort-of’ believed in ghosts. I grew up in an old house and had all kinds of experiences my parents brushed off.
Throughout the years, I heard footsteps in the house and felt the smothering sense of the air growing heavy around me until I thought I would explode. I’ve felt the bed move as though someone were sitting on it (I convinced myself that was just me until my parents mentioned years later they’d had similar experiences in different rooms). Last but not least, one night about seven years ago I was asleep in the guest room (my mother has taken over my old room) and out of nowhere something rushed over my face bringing with it a gust of air. I felt it move over me.
I jumped out of bed and ran into the hall. Mom chastised me and said it was the cat. Not bloody likely. That cat was a wailer and would have been in the hall yelling at me for scaring him.
My friends say I’m sensitive. My husband says I’ve got a big imagination. I never knew what to believe until the night after my brother was killed.
I have to give you some back story here. In June of 2005, I was 12 weeks pregnant. We’d tried for five years, and due to a genetic issue that increased my chances of having a Downs Syndrome baby, we had only conceived once, which ended in miscarriage. That devastated me, and I lived in a deep depression for weeks. So when I got pregnant the second time, only my parents and one of my brothers knew. On June 7, 2005, my husband and I went to the University of Iowa for prenatal testing to would narrow down the odds of our unborn child having Downs. That day, my brother Kevin called my mom to see how I was doing and to ask when we’d get the results. He was worried about me.
He died in a car accident that night.
I didn’t find out until the next morning. I was stunned. You think something like that can’t happen to your family, and then it does. I won’t go into to details, but he never stood a chance. It was horrific and could have been prevented.
I rushed to my parents home two hours away and went to the funeral home with them. I sat in stunned silence while they made arrangements along with my sister-in-law.
You can imagine the grief of the rest of the day. I went to bed—in the guest room—exhausted. Empty. Worried about my test results and feeling guilty for thinking about something other than my brother’s death.
I became trapped in a horrible dream. My brother stood at the foot of my bed staring at me with an expression I’ve never been able to fully describe. He wanted to tell me something. He leaned forward but didn’t speak. In the dream, I jumped out of bed and ran out of the room. He followed me room to room, the same pleading expression on his face. I couldn’t think straight. I’ve never been so scared—not even in real life.
A terrifying sound woke me. It was the weather radio signaling an upcoming storm. My mother and I both woke and went down to the kitchen. She could hardly talk; I was shaking. The dream had been so vivid, so real. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
I told Mom about it, and I can still see her sitting there in her old nightgown, pain radiating from her.
“He didn’t look like himself, though,” I said. “His face was puffy, and he didn’t have a mustache. And he was wearing that burgundy shirt and khaki pants he wore at Xmas.”
My mother turned white. “That’s what he’s going to be buried in.”
After an hour of talking, I explained it away as coincidence. The last time I’d seen him he’d been wearing that shirt. My mind just filled in the blanks. Still, I couldn’t shake the realness of it all.
The next day was the viewing. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain of that experience, let alone what I saw. I remembering stumbling to the casket and nearly collapsing. Not only was Kevin wearing those clothes, but his face was swollen and puffy from the trauma, and he didn’t have a mustache.
Kevin was eighteen years older than me, and I’d never seen him without a mustache. Ever.
Barely able to stand, I asked his poor wife about it. Why didn’t he have one?
“He was trimming it a few days ago and messed up,” she said. “I told him to shave it off.”
There’s no way I could have known that. The mustache sealed the deal for me. For whatever reason, Kevin had come to me the night before. I was convinced he was trying to tell me something, but what? He and I weren’t that close. He knew about my pregnancy because he shared the same genetic condition and Mom had told him. I hadn’t seen him in months. Why me? Why not my older sister? The two of them were very close.
I got my answer later in the day. While sitting at Mom’s kitchen table going through pictures and trying to decide which ones to share at Kevin’s funeral, I got a call from the U of Iowa. Our tests results were back. The Downs screening isn’t absolute, but our odds had drastically narrowed. Our baby was very likely fine.
And then it hit me: that’s what Kevin was trying to tell me. He’d asked about the test the day he was killed, he’d told Mom how worried he was that I wouldn’t be able to handle bad news. I don’t know how, but he was trying to let me know that everything was going to be okay.
I know this in my gut. No one will ever convince me otherwise. The clothes, the mustache, the test results—too many things to be a coincidence.
All the years I joked that I wanted to have a “real” ghost experience, and it’s my own brother. My family will never get over his loss, but I am so grateful to him for coming to me the way he did. After the experience, I believed in the test results. My anxiety about the baby went down, and I was able to relax and enjoy my pregnancy. I wouldn’t have done that had Kevin not visited me.
You don’t have to believe. Most never will until they have their own experience. I just wanted to share mine with you.
My daughter Grace was born 12-26-05. She’s perfect☺