Bonnie McEneaney was a skeptic, just like you may be now. In the days and weeks following the death of her husband, Eamon (pronounced: Aye-mon), in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, McEneaney continued to question that the "signs" her dead husband was sending her were real and not some imaginary attempt to hold on to something she'd lost forever.
An eerie wind out of nowhere on a perfectly still day, making a river pattern among the leaves and branches of the trees.
A blue heron, a bird not native to Connecticut in the middle of winter and having great significance to her personally, guiding her to a burial plot in a local cemetery.
And then the penny. For her, this is what made her believe beyond a doubt that her dead husband was communicating with her from another realm.
She was at a restaurant with friends, discussing some of the strange things she and other spouses and relatives of 9/11 victims had experienced since the terrorist attack. She was explaining that Eamon had foreseen his own death several times, most recently two days before he died while he and Bonnie were watching the World War II-based Band of Brothers miniseries about D-Day, which occurred on June 6, 1944.
She opened her menu, and there sat a wheat penny -- from 1944.
The restaurant did not operate in cash or tips. No one else knew the background or would be so cruel as to plan such a mean practical joke. McEneaney could not rationalize any other way that the penny, with that specific date, could have gotten there, except for Eamon.
"This was just an incredible experience," McEneaney said. "No one at the table could explain where the penny came from. For me, it was clear. And what makes this experience even more remarkable was that the entire day I was beginning to feel like I had made a big mistake -- my own skepticism setting in. When the penny appeared that evening, it was if Eamon was saying, 'Don't give in to your doubts -- stay the course.' And I did."
Author Bonnie McEneaneyMcEneaney has chronicled her own spiritual experiences and those of numerous others in the book Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions From Loved Ones Lost on 9/11, which goes on sale today.
Her goal is not to convert skeptics, but to help others who've lost loved ones open up to the possibility that they might be receiving messages, too. She believes that when you love someone, even when they die, the relationship continues -- it's just different. That special connection is not broken.
The book gave me chills. I'm fascinated by this possibility, and talked with McEneaney, who provided 4 key ways the rest of us can try to be more spiritually open to communication from the dead.
1. You don't have to be religious.
"Raised Christian myself, I have thought a lot about this. I was brought up to believe in the resurrection of Christ -- that there is truly more than this Earthly existence we lead. And yet, when there is a sign that there may really be more than this, we become skeptics again ... 'it's impossible because we (with our human limitations) can't understand it' or 'it simply can't be because we haven't seen it ourselves.' The reality is, for most of us, unless you have had a spiritual experience yourself, it's extremely difficult to transition from skeptic to believer. Not until I experienced the events described in my book did I realize how transforming these experiences could be."
2. Realize that premonitions happen to people of all beliefs.
"Although he was raised Catholic, Eamon was more spiritual than religious. He shaped his view of the spiritual world by combining tenets from several religions in addition to Christianity, Buddhism being one of them. I don't know why he had premonitions. This is a phenomenon that has been going on forever. Countless cases are documented. And why do some people see signs from their loved ones when others don't? There are just certain things that the human mind may never understand. There were so many things that made Eamon special. But all these traits do not preclude anyone else from having a strong presence after death. Perhaps, in part, I believe it's a function of how much love existed between the one who passed over and the one left behind."
3. You may be getting signs right now -- you just might not realize it.
"This phenomenon is not unique to 9/11; it has and continues to happen all around us. Most people don't talk about their experiences for fear they will be judged in some negative way. But I have found that when I talk to small groups, it seems the one who hasn't had something unusual happen is the exception. And it's possible that they missed a sign that occurred right next to them. This is what has the most meaning for me."
4. Don't overlook the signs in your own life.
"Pay attention to the small things that happen around you -- small but unusual. Signs from nature -- bird and butterfly behavior, coins, messages in dreams. There is a danger in looking for something too hard. Just be aware. The messages are never complex -- on the contrary, they are very basic -- even when someone has a sensory visitation, when they smell, feel, hear, or even see the loved one they lost. In most cases, the message is simply that the person who passed on is doing fine and still looking out for the loved one left behind. Just be open to all the spiritual possibilities that surround you every day."
Have you had a spiritual experience from someone who's passed? McEneaney would love to hear from you at her Messages website.