I thought nothing of it until I reached the door to leave the plane, and then I heard a gentleman calling out my name. At this point I knew something was wrong and my heart sunk. When I told a solemn-faced young man it was I that he was looking for, he informed me that there was an emergency at my home. He told me that he did not know what the emergency was, or who was involved, but he wanted to take me to a phone so I could call a hospital back home." My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over.
By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, or to his heart. They explained that the door had completely closed on his little sternum which was right over his heart. It had been severely crushed.
After speaking with the medical staff, my wife sounded worried but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness. The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down.
When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son laying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood straight and strong and who gave me a reassuring smile.
It all seemed like a terrible dream. I was filled-in with the details and given a guarded prognosis. Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was OK. Two very wonderful miracles so far. But only time would tell if his brain had received any damage.
Throughout the seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline. All that night and the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before. Finally at two o'clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, "Daddy hold me" and he reached for me with his little arms.
By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine how we felt as we took Brian home. We felt a unique reverence for the life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely.
In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were much closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family. Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound.
But this story is far from over. Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and asked his Mother, "Mommy, can I tell you something? I need to tell you something very important." At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases containing only a couple of words; so to say a large sentence surprised my wife. She sat down with him on his bed, and he began his most sacred and remarkable story.
"Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn't hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the 'birdies' came."
"The birdies?" my wife asked puzzled.
"Yes," he replied. "The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me."
"Yes," he said. "One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you I got stuck under the door."
A sweet but very powerful reverent feeling filled the room. My wife realized that a three-year-old had no concept of death, or angels, or spirits. Could he possibly be referring to the beings who came to help him as "birdies" because they were up in the air like birds that fly.
"What did the birdies look like?" she asked. Brian answered, "They were so beautiful. They were dressed in white, all white. Some of them had green and white. But most of them had on just white."
"Did they say anything?"
"Yes," he answered. "They told me the baby would be all right."
"The baby?" my wife asked confused.
Brian answered. "The baby laying on the garage floor." He went on, "You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave."
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed gone and knelt beside Brian's body and seeing his crushed chest whispered, "Don't leave us Brian, please stay."
As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that his spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form.
Brian continued his most amazing story. "We went on a trip," he said, "Far, far away." But suddenly he began to grow frustrated trying to say the things he didn't seem to have the words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell her something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words to describe it was very difficult. "We flew so fast up in the air. The birdies are so pretty Mommy," he added. "And there are lots and lots of birdies."
My wife was stunned. But into her mind came an extremely comforting peace. Brian went on to tell her that the "birdies" had told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the "birdies."
He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck, and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed and he tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay, but the man couldn't hear him. He said the birdies told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said they were so pretty and so peaceful, and that he didn't really want to come back.
Then the bright light came. He said that the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light so much. Someone was in the bright light and put their arms around him, and told him, "I love you but you have to go back. You have to play baseball and go to school and do so many other things. And don't forget to tell everyone about the birdies." Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye- bye. Then whoosh. The big sound came and the birdies went into the clouds.
The story went on for an hour. He taught us that "birdies" were always with us, but we don't see them because we look with our eyes and we don't hear them because we listen with our ears. But they are always there; you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us to do what is right because they love us so much.
The birdies really love us Mommy, Brian added. They love us so very much."
In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all, or part of it, again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed. Never out of order. A few times he added further bits of information and clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell us in such detail, and speak beyond his ability when he talked about the birdies.
Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the "birdies." Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled. Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray we never will.