Prologue

I am looking into the open palm of my left hand wherein a 1923 silver dollar lies. Lady Liberty faces the initials E. W. which were obviously etched by hand with the tip of a knife. I have no peripheral vision. Beyond the edges of my palm everything fades into black, even my fingers remain unseen. As if an iris were to close slowly my circle of vision decreases until I see only the coin and then nothing. Sight returns to reveal a large oval wicker basket about ten feet away. It has wicker handles on each end of the major axis. A blue satin trimmed blanket hangs over the sides of the basket between the handles. Again, anything outside the boundary of the basket fades to black but I can see it is sitting on a white tufted bedspread. As I approach the basket all outlying objects begin to disappear into the visual abyss until all I see is a newborn baby directly below me. It is like my brain allows me to see only what requires my attention. The silver dollar, now pinched between my right thumb and forefinger, enters my visual arena. I touch the edge of the silver dollar to the baby’s right palm. As my left hand approaches, again the iris closes to show only my fingertips, the coin and the baby’s fingers. It appears

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that I am going to close the baby’s fingers onto the silver dollar. Fingers touch, then… blackness.

I was awakened instantly as the dream ended. This has happened many times since my mid-teens when this dream started appearing to me. I lay there thinking that this must be some recurring message and I should understand its meaning. The obvious details of this dream are the baby, the dollar and our fingers touching. How many hours have I spent pondering this dream? I asked myself. The only connection to reality is that I recognized the silver dollar as the very one that was given to me on the day of my birth by my Uncle Eddy. I have come to the conclusion that this is a vision of a future event where I will pass this dollar on to another newborn. Okay, I have figured this out so why must I continue to be awakened by this dream?

The alarm on my digital clock interrupted this train of thought. With a groan I rolled over, hit the snooze bar and it immediately fell silent. The red LED display flashed the date 0718 then the time 05:00. What the hell, I thought. I have an hour and twelve minutes before I have to punch in. It is Sunday so nobody but Scott and me will be there. I won’t shave. That saves me ten minutes. I’ll take the snooze.

“06:12 is my start time?” you ask. I worked for Northwest Airlines as an aircraft mechanic in the engine test facility. They had thousands of employees so they staggered start times by fifth hour intervals to lighten traffic in the parking lots.

I rolled back over to face my wife. The very dim light of the break of dawn took advantage of the open window to reveal Renee, already up on her elbow, looking back at me. I reached up to turn the knob of the fifteen watt wall sconce directly over our heads.

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Through her squinting dark brown eyes she groggily exclaimed, “Already?!” Her hair, also dark brown, was long enough so it cascaded down still leaving some hair lying on the bed. She had bangs so the light olive complexion of her face was not hidden by hair falling in her face. She was exceedingly beautiful for her fifty years. Even though I was only two years older, I showed my age but she did not. She has had a thousand people tell her that she looks like Cher since I Got You Babe was released when Renee was sixteen. 1965 also happens to be the year we met and we have been together ever since.

“I already hit the snooze,” I told her. “I will stay with you for ten more minutes. Kiss me now and I will sneak out without waking you.”

“Okay,” she sighed. We kissed and she fell back to sleep.

I put my head back on the pillow and just stared at her for a couple minutes. I remembered back to the first time I saw her. She was an A&W carhop. She looks as adorable now as she did thirty-four years ago. I am so lucky and blessed. I turned the light off and fell back to sleep. The ten minutes passed in a nanosecond and the alarm went off again. Little did I know those ten minutes would the last I would spend with her in bed for a couple of months. This day was going bring an event that would change me for the rest of my life.

When I got to work Scott told me that he had purchased a Honda motorcycle on Saturday. He asked me if I would help him pick it up after work. “Of course,” I replied. When our shift ended we rode to Blaine with me riding tandem behind Scott on his ‘old’ bike, a one year old Harley. After a few minutes of talking to the previous owner, Scott got on his Honda. I jumped on the Harley and we started out to his house. I had never been to Scott’s house so I followed him. It was 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. What a beautiful day for a ride! I

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thought. We traveled through Minneapolis on I-94. We reached downtown St. Paul and exited the freeway to merge onto highway 52 south. I looked over my left shoulder to check the merging traffic when suddenly a heavy darkness had consumed me. I felt as if I was in a closed box because I couldn’t feel any air movement. But then I couldn’t sense any walls around me either. It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t warm. There was no smell or sound either. There wasn’t anything. I felt like I was nowhere, in a vast timeless nothingness, and it was not a dream. I have no idea how long I was suspended there. Then I had an eerie feeling come over me. It felt like something was stalking me. Is it the Angel of Death?! I wondered. If Death was beckoning, my first and only thought was what if I would never see Renee again. The thought that I may never hold her in my arms again caused an immense pain in my soul. I begged God for my return to Renee’s arms. Then, somewhere far in the distance from no discernible direction, I could hear a voice singing very softly. The voice was pulling me back from the nihility. Soon, I could recognize the refrain. You Are My Sunshine! I listened closely and I recognized Renee’s voice in the distance. Then she stopped singing. She started saying soothing and comforting things to me. I could feel myself coming out of that void. Now, as consciousness slowly returned I was feeling pain as I had never felt it before. I was blind! I couldn’t talk! I couldn’t breathe! I was vomiting and I was lying on my back. I couldn’t lift my head. I tried to thrash about but I couldn’t move any part of me. I knew if I couldn’t breathe I would die! I was so frightened. I could hear Renee still talking to me. She sounds so calm I must be all right, I thought. Minutes passed. I kept trying to talk but nothing would come out. After a few more minutes, I realized I could move my right hand at my wrist. I made a

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motion with my hand like I was writing. It got Renee’s attention and she put a pen in my hand. I could feel her lift my hand. When she put it down I felt the crinkle of paper so I scrawled

What happened

She said, “You had an accident. We don’t know exactly what happened. Somehow you were thrown off the motorcycle. Your body crashed into the concrete meridian barricade face first.”

That made no sense to me. I needed more information. I still had the pen but could feel no paper under my hand. Again, I made a writing motion. She must not be looking, I think, so I franticly patted on the bed with my hand. She put the paper back under my hand and pushed down on my fingers.

Where am I

“You are in Regions Hospital in St. Paul very near where you had your accident,” Renee responded.

I tapped again so she slid the paper in.

I can't see

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She explained, “Your face is so swollen you can’t open your eyes.”

I made more anxious taps.

I can't talk

She enlightened, “There is a tube into your lungs with a machine doing your breathing for you.”

Once again I tapped.

Only move hand

“You have broken bones all over your body,” she expounded. “You are restrained so you can’t move. Your right arm is tied at the wrist so you can still move your hand.”

We will jump ahead three weeks. I was recuperating at home with the radio playing. The only part of me unbroken was my right arm and hand so, without causing pain, the limit of my physical activity was changing stations. I stopped at a station that plays music from the 40’s. The DJ announced the next song as - I’ll Be Seeing You sung by Frank Sinatra and played by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. A few moments into the song I had an overwhelming feeling of sorrow come over me. The grief was so powerful tears started flowing from my eyes. Along with the sadness was a strange sense of déjà vu, that experience that leaves you feeling that what just happened was a memory from before.

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This is so difficult to accurately describe but it was a feeling like a déjà vu detached from its event. The song ended and all the emotions slowly subsided. I thought, “Wow that was strange.”

I have often wondered, what exactly is a déjà vu experience. Every time I have had one, it’s been so fleeting. Now I had nothing but time to think about it. I wanted to grab it with my mind and hold on to it. They always appear so unexpectedly and they are over before you even get a chance to connect it to a previous experience. Is it a memory or is it a feeling? I have never been able to put my finger on it. I felt like I was whizzing down a highway and had seen something out of the corner of my eye but didn’t get a chance to focus on it. Except, in this case, the highway was a timeline and there was no way to stop to back up to get a second look. By the time I realized what was happening the event was too far behind me to vividly recall. As far as this particular event, I just attributed the experience to residual effects from my accident and returned to brainlessly listening to the radio.

A couple months later I was back at work. As I said, I am an aircraft mechanic and this day I was working on an APU in the test cell. Okay, you may want some explanation to satisfy your curiosity even though it has nothing to do with this story:

APU is an acronym for Auxiliary Power Unit. An APU in this case is a small turbine engine that supplies electric and hydraulic power to the aircraft when it is on the ground and the main engines are off. When any aircraft component has been repaired or overhauled it is placed in a ‘test cell’ so it can be run under required load conditions to assure serviceability prior to installation on aircraft. Test cells can be anything from a

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closet sized room (for pumps, etc.) to a very large room the size of two basketball courts or more with very high ceilings (for large jet engines). Test cells always have many sensors attached to the unit being tested to collect data and are always built to contain catastrophic failure of the unit under test. The walls are made of concrete or steel and range from a few inches thick to over three feet thick.

Now, to get back to the story, I was alone in the test cell preparing an APU for test. My radio, playing big band music, was behind me on my tool box. Even though I was born in 1947 I have always had an inexplicable propensity to 40’s music but the inclination had become much stronger since my accident. They announce I’ll Be Seeing You, this time sung by Rosemary Clooney and again the tears welled in my eyes. I could no longer see what I was doing. I had such an overwhelming feeling of sorrow that I had to sit down as I lost my balance. I was held motionless by the song despite futile attempts to muster all the self-control I could. I silently wept as it played. A few minutes after the song ended my feeling of sadness turned to a feeling of gratitude that no one was around. A man that works closely with hundreds of other men can never show sensitivity or the ridicule would be endless.

Another month passed and the radio played I Had the Craziest Dream, a song from the same era. I experienced another episode but this time I was alone in my garage. I didn’t have to worry about interruptions so I tried to be more aware of what was happening to me. The feeling included an intense desire of…? I tried to understand what it was I desired. I knew the song would end soon and I only had a few

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moments before the feelings would pass so I mentally tried to coax the unknown event into my consciousness. I got very fuzzy images and other sensations. It was kind of like a dream state. For just a moment I felt the presence of a young woman against me. Not pressing against my body but it was like a memory of her holding me. It subsided again regardless of my efforts to keep it from slipping away. I wished it wouldn’t. I continued playing 40’s stations for the next month but had no further bouts of grief. I decided whatever I had been experiencing was finally behind me now.

It was the early spring of 2000. Renee and I were on a trip. We went to a dining room in the hotel where we were staying. The waiter seated us and we examined our menus. We placed our order; the waiter took our menus and left. I looked up and gazed about the room. It was an old hotel and the dining room was in the Art Deco style of the 1930’s or 40’s. Another event was coming on. In this more vivid déjà vu I was slow dancing in a ballroom of a similar style to this room. I was holding a young lady whose clutch was as tight as mine. The tears came again and I was having trouble getting through the meal. I was in a public place and I didn’t want this now. To force it away, I looked down at the table for the rest of the meal. I suppressed this occurrence but I had learned more. I was having these experiences with certain songs and they were tied to a room similar to this dining room.

I bought a Tommy Dorsey CD with I’ll Be Seeing You in an effort to see what other songs might bring it on. Armed with this visual image of the place and the CD, I wanted to see if I could induce a sustainable state of these sensations. With uninterrupted solitude I was able to achieve what seemed like memories of images and conversations. When my trance faded I replayed the instigating music

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and was able to stimulate it again. I could only play the song about three times in a session, as it was emotionally very exhausting and I was unable hold the required focus. My intention was to examine these events and reassemble the memory as much as I could. I did this many times over a period of several months. I became quite skillful at this and was finally able to put the visions, impressions and feelings together in as much detail as possible.

I also realized this was someone else’s memory, not mine. Until now I had never believed in supernatural things. I had always been skeptical about séances and such. Now I have to push my doubts aside as knew there was someone else that joins me when I hear that music. I’ll Be Seeing You was his ticket to re-live, through me, an experience that he held so dear that it constituted all of his purpose in whatever kind of existence was his. During these months, when I would describe these experiences to Renee, I referred to him as The Traveler as I thought he must be some wandering soul that found me when I played that song. The images and sensations of The Traveler’s experiences became clearer as I continued my sessions with the Tommy Dorsey CD. There was no verbal communication from The Traveler but I received the thoughts of his mind during these sessions. These feelings had become actual memories. My near death experience was the impetus that permitted my awareness of him. As the months became years I finally learned his name was Eli.

His story unfolds to me by visual imagery much as a movie does for you. For example when you go to the theatre and you see a scene that contains a large crowd. You know what the point of this scene is to the story but if you choose to you can look at people at the edge of the field of vision. You may focus on the face of a nameless man in the

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crowd. Since I am looking at a memory of a scene I am forced to see only those things on which Eli is focused. The visions sometimes have peripheral sight when it is part of that memory but objects in the fringe are identifiable only by shape. Also, I never get to see what Eli looks like since there was no memory shown to me where he looked into a mirror but when he looks in that direction I can see his hands, which are broad with stout fingers. His forearms are quite muscular. I can hear the conversations along with each memory of the man I now know as Eli. I invite you to come with me as I relate the memories of his life. The Tommy Dorsey CD always brings us to this same evening. Now remember, we are in his head. What we see is through Eli’s eyes and what we hear is through his ears. We can also read his thoughts. As you read you will become Eli.

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