Hump Day: Sometimes evidence of ‍afterlife seems right before our eyes – and ears

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Tuesday, Aug. 26, was the second anniversary of the passing of my father. At the time, little did I know that, exactly two years later, my uncle Cammy Cormier would be fighting for his life in the hospital. And little did I know that exactly two years (to the hour!) after I stood alongside Cammy and peered down at my father lying in bed, his soul having departed this earth, that Cammy’s family would be doing the same for him.

He was the last of my father’s siblings. They’re all gone now – and I still can’t believe it. Luckily, we have photos and videos to remember them all by, including some precious home movies from the 1960s.

Cammy was diagnosed in January with stomach cancer. Despite some ups and downs and dashed hopes at keeping the cancer at bay through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, eventually it became obvious that there was no hope. He accepted it with dignity and kept on joking to the end. While I’m sure there were moments of sadness and fear, the stages of grief worked their way through, as they always do.

I was deeply impressed at how welcoming he remained throughout his illness. He didn’t hide and remained active. He didn’t push people away. He graciously accepted visitors and was always appreciative. He and my aunt Marguerite raised a very close-knit family of three children and had eight grandchildren. Family was very important to him.

The day Cammy died, my mind was on my own father since it was the second anniversary of his passing. Of course, it’s easier now, but anniversaries are always a bit melancholy. I knew Cammy’s time was coming and remember telling my father that day (in my head, of course) that it was time to go get Cammy. He was so sick and he was suffering. Luckily, he had not been in much pain during his illness, but at the end it was obvious that he was in some level of physical discomfort. It was time to go.

I’m not sure what your belief system is, so perhaps you think this is all some sort of hocus-pocus, but I’m a big believer in an existence beyond what we know in the physical world here. I experienced a sign on the day after my father died that he was OK. Now, I know what you may be thinking, “Oh that Brian Cormier chap has finally snapped! He’s smelled too much newspaper ink after all these years and he’s hallucinating.” Well, maybe and maybe not.

Telephone ringingOn the day after my father died, I was talking to my mother on the telephone (about my father, of course) when the telephone handset in my bedroom started ringing out of control in a ringtone I’d never heard in my life. It couldn’t be a call coming in. I was already using another handset and the line was busy. Besides, I don’t have call waiting anyway. So as the handset rang, my mother asked me what that noise was. I told her the telephone in my bedroom was ringing off the hook for some reason in some weird ringtone I’d never heard. How could that be? We were already on the telephone!

Finally – half in jest and half not – I declared that it must be Dad and that he was just letting us know that he’d arrived at his destination safely. It had never happened before and it has never happened since. Can I prove it was a sign? Of course not. Am I convinced it was a sign? Absolutely. (By the way, I did answer the phantom call, but the only ones on the line were my mother and me. Or were we really the only ones?)

On the 27th, the day after Cammy died, I was driving by The Moncton Hospital, where both Cammy and my father had passed away, and was thinking of them. They’d died at suppertime on Aug. 26, which was a beautiful warm and sunny evening in both 2012 and 2014. As I was thinking of them, two white butterflies started chasing each other directly in front my windshield.

Of course, I immediately took it as a sign that it was Dad and Cammy letting me know that Dad had heard my plea to him the day before, had gone to get Cammy and now they were both free from sickness. Again, can I prove it? Nope. But do I believe it? Yup. For the record, I don’t ever remember two butterflies chasing each other right in front my windshield before. Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

I’ve heard all kinds of stories about signs that people who have recently died have sent to loved ones to let them know they’re OK and that their energy still lives on. Who am I to argue with them? The butterfly sign could be a stretch, but I’m wholly convinced the telephone ringing with that bizarre sound was a big nudge from the beyond that Dad was safely with the rest of his family who’d passed before him.

A retired firefighter with 25 years of experience with the Moncton Fire Department, Cammy was known for never being in a bad mood and always quick with a joke. He had the loud Cormier laugh reminiscent of his mother – my grandmother – whose laugh could pierce through a room like a bullet.

I was particularly touched during visitation at the funeral home when an honour guard of Moncton firefighters held vigil as a sign of respect for Cammy. I was honoured to be a pallbearer at the funeral, and as we descended the steps of the church with his casket toward the waiting hearse that would bring him to his final resting place, I was touched again by the salute he was given by the honour guard of honourary pallbearers from the Moncton Fire Department who were lined up on each side of his casket.

Rest in peace, Cammy. You’re no longer sick and are somewhere where illness doesn’t exist. I can hear that laugh piercing through the clouds now. Yes, you’re free.

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