Do angels talk to us?
My Ma passed away three years ago.
I was at her bedside when she died.
She was the first person I saw die and I thought it would be horrible.
I was wrong . . .
It was 11pm and we had been by her bedside all day waiting for her to die but she refused to go and that did not surprise me.
My Ma was a stubborn Scotswoman in her 80’s who had seen some of the horrors of the 2nd World War while growing up in pretty abject poverty in Glasgow. She had weathered all those storms to go to university and become a successful teacher, raising five children and living a full life before sadly burying her husband 17 years previously. Now it was her turn.
Ma had suffered a severe head trauma after a fall and for ten days we had watched her struggle to stay alive – that was the horrible part.
On the last night at around 11pm the nurse had told us to go home and come back the following morning. We put on our coats and left the Intensive Care Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin and waited quietly for the lift to arrive. We felt helpless and deflated.
As the lift opened an image of a medal my son had bought for my Ma popped into my head. On an instinct I asked him to give it to me so I could put it under her pillow.
I left them waiting at the lift, scrubbed my hands, put on the plastic gown and walked to her bed in ICU where I found panic. All Ma’s vital signs had suddenly ceased and she was struggling to breathe as the machines beeped ominously. The attending nurse shouted at me:
I rushed back to gather my family: my two sisters, my son, his mother and my girlfriend and we all ran back and gathered around her bed.
Then something strange happened.
Without anyone saying anything we all placed our hands on her frail, almost transparent body while I said:
‘Ma you can go – you can go now MA!’
I have never said anything in my entire life with more sincerity or passion and my Ma took one long, painful breath and died while our hands were on her.
The curtains were drawn and we were ushered away by the nurses. We gathered in a circle feeling deeply shocked but I also felt a strange elation. We had seen this old warrior off on her last journey and I was so thankful to have been able to do that. No tears were shed. We did not feel it was a tragedy but rather a blessed relief.
An hour later we left and I stood outside the ICU with my sister gazing up at the night sky. It was clear, cold and starry and I felt strangely joyous. Ma felt nearby – so near I could almost reach out and touch her. I was happy she was out of her agony and well on her way to wherever she was going.
Three weeks later I was having dinner with the friends of my girlfriend Barbara when the conversation turned to the night my mother had died. Barbara had never said a word about it and as she spoke I was moved to hear how deeply shocked she had been. She had just turned up at the hospital for a visit and had no idea that things would turn out as they did.
Barbara was a single child with ageing Italian parents and she spoke from the heart as she described witnessing the death of Agnes. After her account a deep, pregnant silence filled the room and I suddenly felt the hairs crawl on the back of my neck. For out of nowhere there appeared a tiny feather no bigger than a fingernail that stayed suspended in the air over the middle of the dinner table. It a beautiful, small white feather and we all looked on in stunned silence; for we knew that something extraordinary was happening.
‘Can you believe that!’ whispered my friend’s wife, ‘an angel leaves a feather when they appear.’ Then she looked at me and added, ‘that was sent from your Ma.’
And I knew deep down that she was telling the truth; that somehow from somewhere, someone was reaching out and saying hallo . . . or maybe goodbye.
Angels are everywhere. They appear in just about every culture and religion in the history of man. The word “angel” comes from the Greek word for messenger and angels are thought to be messengers sent by the divine to communicate with us humans. The Romans believed that we were each given a guiding spirit. The Christians called this phenomenon the “Guardian Angel”, while both Judaism and Islam honour angels, the messengers from the beyond.
Fast forward 2,000 years and the angels still appear to be with us, their grip on our imagination as strong as ever. Indeed some strands of modern behavioural science may be showing us the ways in which angels communicate to us.
I have written a book called Listening to your angel. It is about this research and how we can best listen to these spontaneous intuitions – the thoughts that appear in the space between our thoughts. When the book came out in 1998 it was a big success. Indeed Professor Eugene Gendlin, whose research and findings appears in the book describe it so:
‘I welcome Kevin Flanagan’s new book. It includes one of the best personal descriptions of the Focusing process that I have ever read.’ Professor Eugene Gendlin, University of Chicago