What’s Out There…

A year ago, my thirty-three-year-old nephew died after a lifelong battle with neurofibromatosis type 2–a disease that robs the person of vision, hearing, and other capabilities as it progresses. Humans tend to whine over minor things. My nephew never complained about the unfairness of his condition. Instead, he moved through his shortened life in grace and faith. An unwavering commitment that we are all just passing through.

His loss left me with a deep wound in trying to understand, “Why?” And then the dreams began.

From start to finish, the stories and messages in “The Bench: A Parable about Life, Death, and Beyond,” a novella, came to me in a series of dreams. Night after night, vivid imagery introduced me to five characters, their narrative, and how their lives converge through tragedy.

The Bench is a metaphor for life’s struggles, unfairness, suffering, loss, and other calamities. No one goes through life unscathed; we all have at least one Bench moment. But what if we could talk to the one person we need the most to find comfort and closure or help us process an unanswerable question?

This writing is not theological, scholarly, or based on any faith tradition. It is not written to proselytize, convert, or diminish anyone’s beliefs or faith traditions. It is written for consideration, perhaps as a guide, teacher, or to plant a seed of contemplation. A moment of grace—or just suppose and keep an open mind.

I am seeking advanced readers interested in reading this novella and sharing their thoughts. If you want a PDF copy, please email me at Francesca@HopeVerdad.com

Believing in Something

Most humans are drawn to the spiritual side of life–what lies beyond the veil of this existence? Why are humans here? What is our purpose? Is there life after death, or is death merely the endpoint? This examination does not have to fall into religion or theology. It is, for many, an existential question. Four in 5 Americans (81%) believe an ultimate purpose and plan exists for every person’s life. Whether religious or not, globally, most people seem to believe that there is some mighty power beyond our understanding–a God.

Some express this interest by studying the universe and stars. They may see their curiosity as scientific inquiry, but some of us see it as more.

Others examine the question of our existence through a theological lens, poring over sacred scripture. Still others join religions or a spiritual quest. We all have thoughts about why we are here, yet many of us are still searching. Since the dawn of humanity, we have looked to the heavens as if it were a homing beacon, calling us – reminding us we are more than our bodies. Regardless of how we search for this meaning, most of us do, and this is the common thread that binds us.

Whatever path we follow, we all arrive at the same terminal: death. But between our birth and departing this world are the pages of our lives. Some think we are the authors, others believe in divine providence, and some believe in combining the two. Perhaps just as vital as authorship is the content of these pages–or how we live our lives.

The universal language of kindness, love, compassion, and peace transcends belief systems. Whether one subscribes to a Higher Power, Source, or Creator or believes in nothing, we all understand (or crave) the power of love. We feel it, need it, give it–love is as essential as oxygen.

Why is this?

Some of us are open to a connection to something greater than ourselves. We accept there is more than what our physical eyes see and can quiet our logical brain that summarily dismisses anything beyond the realm of this plain. We listen to our inner voice, our instincts, and our dreams. We pray. We meditate or reflect on ancient texts. Sometimes, we slip the bonds of human existence by giving of ourselves in service to others with kindness, compassion, or volunteerism. All of which remind us of our connection to each other and to something larger than all of us combined.

Messages from Beyond

I remain open to the possibilities that angels walk among us, that we all possess a divine spark, miracles occur, and sometimes, humanity is given messages from something beyond or by those who have died or had near-death experiences (NDEs). Of course, some charlatans claim to have had an NDE and will lie their way into notoriety. However, it is easy to discern the story’s believability by understanding the motivation behind what is being shared. Either the person is trying to monetize their tale, or they are trying to convey a message from the beyond – a message of hope and purpose.

The number of documented near-death experiences is mind-blowing. Initially, some might dismiss the possibility outright, making it a debate about the existence of God or Higher Power. I would instead examine the experience and what the person learned. The evidence of this phenomenon is compelling. Many books have been written by people who have experienced it. I have read at least a dozen books and several academic papers. The father of near-death experiences is Richard Moody, who introduced us in his groundbreaking book Life and Life in 1975. Some other fascinating books include Proof of Heaven and Evidence of the Afterlife. The University of Virginia Division of Perpetual Studies has also studied this phenomenon.

While various themes are recounted from these experiences, one universal theme arises–God (or you fill in the blank) is love. I find this to be a profound message and a guiding principle. If a Higher Power is love, can any religion, person, or movement that teaches or makes us feel fear, hate, and judgment be a godly message from our Creator?

On a final note, I have also discovered the power of dreams. As Carl Jung said, dreams can integrate our conscious and unconscious. Our subconscious tries to sort out dilemmas, rehash events, or make sense of the world. But dreams can serve as a drawbridge to the other side. One that, when we are open and believe in the possibilities, drops and allows our deceased loved ones or emissaries to cross and impart messages we need to hear or share.



  1. Sherry Hall says:

    I have stage 4 kidney disease with only 15% kidney function. I am 80 years old & choosing to not do dialysis because it is so brutal & I feel my body & my mind have been through enough on this earthly journey. I have lived with a below the knee amputation from an accident 50 years ago, back problems, type 2 diabetes, arthritis in my hands as well as the horrific loss of my son from suicide 4 years ago & estrangement from older son. I have adult grandkids that are too busy to see me. I believe in reincarnation & wonder if I will be able to see my deceased son again. Never have been “a God person,” & am very curious about what happens & where we go upon death, which doesn’t seem that far away for me!

    • Hello, Sherry; I am sorry you’re going through multiple battles. Life is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I will email you the novella. It may not answer your questions, but it offers food for thought. I’d also recommend Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, MD. He isn’t a God person either, but I found his experience to be a worthwhile read. I hope the road before you takes a turn for the better. Sending you my very best wishes.

  2. Sandra says:

    I lost my mother almost 2 years ago. She was our world and we were hers. Somehow I knew that day would come as she was approaching 80 and had lived a long, full and beautiful life. I didn’t think it would be that day and no matter how old you are, even with a grown child of your own, you are never ready to lose your mom. She is your first and best friend, your port in a storm, and no one will ever love you as much as your mom. I miss her so and want to know what happens after more than I ever wondered before. I feel such a lonely void and nothing comforts me though I want so much to believe she is still with me and I will see her again. I would love a copy of your book. I have read several and currently reading the grieving brain but still searching for something that resonates and will bring some peace so I can think of her and remember without falling apart. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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