Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Boy Named Silas: Heavenly Sights

This post was originally published in April, 2011 on my special needs blog, A Boy Named Silas, which has since been retired.


In the radio drama we listened to today, one of the characters flat-lined in the hospital. Silas started sobbing uncontrollably. He wasn't shaken up because the character might be dead (Mr. Whittaker survived, by the way). I think Silas' response was much more subconscious.

"It's beeping," he cried over and over.

This wasn't the first time I've suspected Silas of having some latent memories of his neonatal crash. For an entire year, whenever Silas watched a certain Veggie Tales movie, he would go into sobbing hysterics during one particular scene in which three angels (all dressed in white and looking suspiciously like doctors) cornered one of the veggies.

Do I believe Silas accurately remembers each event leading up to his NICU stay as it happened in real time? Of course not. But every once in a while, Silas will say something that simply blows my mind and makes me wonder if my son's earliest memories include not only medical trauma but a decent amount of the supernatural.

One Sunday while leading Silas' kids' church class, I was teaching a lesson about angels. After explaining that in the Christmas story God sent angels to deliver messages, I asked my students, "What else do angels do?''

     Without skipping a beat, my three year-old answered, "They play with babies."

Up until that point, I had never talked to Silas about the angels that might have helped him at his birth. Actually, up until that point, I was pretty skeptical about such matters myself.

Over the next weeks, I wondered if Silas would mention the angels again. I didn't want to ask him too many leading questions about them, but I wanted to be open if he actually did have more supernatural recollections. Finally, after waiting a month or so, I asked Silas again to tell me some jobs that angels do. One of the ones he mentioned was to help babies. I jumped on it.

"Who helped you when you were born?" I asked.

"Angels," he said.

"What did they do to help you?"

"Put me to bed," he answered.

Silas said the angels were big and colorful and looked like stars. He even sang me a song that he said the angels sang to him the morning he was born.

I knew I was starting to tread a fine line. The more questions I asked, the more I risked planting false memories into Silas' head. But I had to know one more thing, so I risked it and asked.

"Did the angels say anything to you?"


Immensely thankful that by this time I was recording our conversation on my video camera, I asked Silas what the angels said.

According to Silas, the angels told him, "Would you wake up, please?"

I suppose we will never be one hundred percent certain if Silas' memories are true or not. There will certainly always be skeptics, and I included myself in that category for quite some time. But, although this was certainly the most coherent conversation about angels Silas and I have had, it is not the only one.

Silas also has talked on multiple occasions about a large playroom he was taken to after he was born. Wondering if it was a vision of heaven, I asked him once what was in it. Silas said it was filled with things like Thomas the Train, Elmo, bouncing balls ...  in other words, the toys that Silas likes to play with today. Real memory or not? I'm dubious. But then again, when the Apostle John experienced his glimpse of heaven, he had to find a way to put his vision of the infinite into human language. Is a playroom filled with wonderful toys the best way a three year-old can describe heaven? Who knows?

Another time Silas told me about a huge crash, after which he was placed by angels in a hospital bed. Could Silas actually be remembering doctors taking him to the nursery and trying to resuscitate him? Who's to say yes?

But, then again, who's to say no?

 (An edited version of my conversation with Silas about angels)

You can read the full story of Silas' first five years in the touching memoir, A Boy Named Silas.

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