sweet grandmother a family farewell. We were all there, assembled in unity, around her stark white hospital bed. My
mother, Aunt Melissa, two brothers and cousin quietly smiled with sad eyes knowing this was something we would have
to get through together. A part of me was comforted that she would no longer be in pain, but another part was deeply
saddened to know she would be gone forever. We each knew it was just a matter of time. The nurse reassured us that she
was in no pain, was unaware of her surroundings and completely unresponsive. She was barely a whisper of anything left
with all the tubes and fuss, yet a part of me believed she could hear us telling her how much we loved her and how now it
was okay to go to heaven and be with Grampy, my father and the rest of the family. Having not eaten or spoken in over a
week, she looked so gray and listless. No, she looked nothing like the vibrant woman I knew and loved. She was almost
gone. The only thing that let me know she was alive was that her hand felt warm.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I squeezed my grandmother’s hand. Tenderly, and ever so gently, I bent down to kiss
“Goodbye Grandma,” was all I could whisper.
When I released her hand, she suddenly opened her eyes and sat up in bed with a desperate gasp. This rather startled
me, but I felt relieved to know she was aware of my presence. However, I cannot comprehend where her strength came
from. Remember, she was so emaciated, weak and dying.
Then, something inexplicable happened. It really is beyond anything I can explain. My grandmother turned her head
and torso—in a way that seemed unnatural—toward my Aunt Melissa and began speaking in a language I had never heard
before. What was even stranger and rather eerie is my Aunt Melissa answered her in the same language and her eyes
were glazed in a wide stare. They exchanged several seemingly passionate phrases and then she lay back down and
closed her eyes. Within seconds, my grandmother exhaled a long last breath and then nothing. The room surrounded me
with an unbearably heavy silence and it was difficult to catch my breath. I had so many questions, but time froze as my
mind reeled from what had just occurred.
After a few moments of crying, my mother turned toward her sister and asked her what we all wanted to know, “What
did she say and what language were you speaking?”
Shaking her head and looking sincerely confused, my aunt answered, “What do you mean? She didn’t say anything. I was
right here. I haven’t said a word. She just died.”
“No, you just talked to each other,” my mother whispered in shock. “I heard you.”
“No,” my aunt answered in tears. “We did not. This has just been so very emotional and exhausting.”
“You really didn’t hear her?” I asked incredulously.
She shook her head and again answered, “No.”
My brothers, mother and cousin looked at my grandmother and then at my aunt in utter amazement. Neither of us knew
what to say and I could not for the life of me let it go.
To this day, I can’t completely explain what we witnessed, other than the experience was more powerful than anything I
have ever felt. I knew there was more for me to learn.
Several years later, in a graduate studies course I attended at night, I heard what was unquestionably a similar, if not the
very same, language uttered from the mouth of my professor of religious studies. It took all my will not to jump out of
my seat and run to him.
“Sir,” I croaked and quickly cleared my throat. “What language are you speaking?”
“I am sorry, I thought I said that this is ancient Hebrew,” he answered with a smile of both delight and surprise that
someone was even remotely interested in what he was saying to the class.
The hairs on the back of my neck went up, and again it was as if I was back in the hospital room with my dying
grandmother. Once more, my life changed.
Now, I continue to learn all I can about ancient languages as I teach at the university. It is my hope that someday I will
hear the words spoken again and understand what they mean.
To further explain the miracle of this, my grandmother was from Canada. She spoke fluent French and learned how to
speak English when she moved to New Hampshire. She married my grandfather at the age of seventeen and virtually had
no education other than a busy family life. My mother said she never heard her mother speak any other language other
than French and English. Furthermore, my Aunt adamantly denies ever having a conversation with my grandmother
that night. She has absolutely no memory of it. She swears she does not know any other language other than English and
three years of high school French.
Sometimes, it is as if it never happened. Sometimes it seems like it was just a dream. I haven’t told many people this
story, but thankfully I have my brothers, my mother and cousin to share my memory. Now, I believe my grandmother
and aunt were speaking to each other from another time—an ancient place. Somewhere that is deep within us. This place
is my proof that there is life beyond this world and I know my grandmother, father and other loved ones are there