I can name about a dozen instances in which the dead come back to life or otherwise make an appearance again in the Bible after they have died:
*Jesus, most noticeably, but also…
*Two children raised from the dead by Jesus
*A child raised from death by the prophet Elijah
*A child raised from death by the prophet Elisha
*A man raised from death simply by coming into contact with Elisha’s corpse in a tomb
*A host of unnamed “saints” who rose from the grave following Jesus’ resurrection (Gospel of Matthew)
*An army of bones turned into living soldiers as witness by the prophet Ezekiel
*Elijah and Moses conversing with Jesus during the Transfiguration
*Two men resurrected by apostles in the book of Acts
*The prophet Samuel, conjured as a spirit by a medium to talk to King Saul
The people of Jesus’ time clearly believed in the possibility of ghosts themselves, as Jesus needs to prove he isn’t one when he walks across water and after the resurrection, when he eats with them (ghosts don’t eat, you see). It was taken as rote that the dead might still be among us. Note that it is still often a part of the ritual of Passover to set a place at the table for Elijah at the Seder meal.
So to me, as a grieving child and teen, the idea of Scott’s being with me was never impossible. Even in his absence, and the onset of “the colors,” I thought of Elisha asking Elijah for a share of Elijah’s spirit as he was taken into heaven, contemplating the possibility that on the night that Scott was murdered. I supposed that perhaps my vision of his family was the onset of a “share” of Scott’s spirit and gifts, the spiritual anointing of an innate perception he may have possessed.
I am not alone in this.
Regardless of faith and background, a surprising number of Scott’s friends and classmates who lived in the immediate vicinity of his house have confessed to me that they have been witness to some sort of unexplainable account or manifestation of gifts that occurred after Scott’s death. At the time they shared it with me, they had thought themselves the only one. They didn’t talk about it. Not until I did first, much like I’m doing now.
To play Devil’s advocate, I imagine this sort of thing is not uncommon. I imagine that if I searched for it, I could find something in the annals of psychiatry or child psychology that might point to this as a sort of coping mechanism for the mind, the byproduct of being forced to suddenly assimilate something so chaotic and vile into one’s worldview. I call this the -itis label. Students of Greek or people in the medical field already know that a great many of the afflictions that humanity suffer from bear titles that do little more than provide a fancy description of the complaint of the patient:
- Arthritis – inflammation of the joints (“arthro” = joints, “itis” = burning/pain)
- Bursitis – inflammation of the fluid sac around the joints (the bursa).
- Meningitis – inflammation of the membranes of the brain (the menix).
- Tonsilitis – inflammation of the tonsils.
- Appendicitis – inflammation of the appendix
Essentially, it is a categorization by description, and if enough people have it, it becomes a condition or a disease. You have a rash on your skin (Greek for skin is “dermis”)? Well, guess what inflammation of the skin is called? This does nothing to identify a cause or a cure. That happens later. What I’m trying to say is that even if the APA has a name for this development within children, it doesn’t mean anything other than that they believe (as certainly befits their vocation) that the problem resides in the mind, and not the heart, soul, or spirit, terms that mean little more to them than an overlapping of various brain functions in key parts of a given lobe.
To wit: if this response to mental trauma has a name, who cares? Not me.
Ironically, one of the best coping mechanisms to Scott’s death was the world of horror. Seriously. After enough exposure to zombie shows and movies, Pet Sematary, and “The Monkey’s Paw,” you come to realize that bringing the dead back to life can come with some serious consequences. In fact, the newly arisen might not appreciate it, and might try to kill you or force you to kill them again in self defense. That notion let the real healing begin. So thank you, George Romero and Stephen King.
It is still difficult to think of Scott as anything other than a boy. I have a school picture of his from the year he died, kept in a frame alongside the pictures of my family on a bookshelf. He now looks more like one of my daughter’s friends than one of mine. The Scott I knew has since split into two beings: the spirit of the person I lost, and the spectre of the person he might have become. Every significant moment in my life has been fused with the thought of him and what he might be today. Would he have been in band with me? What teams or activities would he have done in high school? Would I have partied with him at graduation? Would he have gone to college? Would he be married now, too, as I am? Would he have kids? I find that I think about him and what he would be doing more than I do some acquaintances and what they are doing with their real lives here on Earth.
In my alternate universe, Scott is a pediatrician who uses sleight of hand to distract and amuse his patients while he tends to them and mends them, heals them and makes them whole. He is married, with kids of his own, and their hair is as bright and blond as his was. In one nonexistent picture on Facebook, his daughter holds up his stuffed bear, Henry, which Scott has kept all this time.
In some form or another, I have never been able to entirely let go. I was angry for a long time that someone had bought the house and planned to live in it. For one thing, I have to believe that the previous owner’s actions had to have been known by the buyer, and I question a person’s willingness to co-exist with that. But more importantly, anyone capable of dismissing the gruesome history would certainly be disruptive to any sort of connection Scott would still have there. I was afraid it would kick him onward to heaven or the great beyond. It was a fear that kept bringing me back around to one very, very important question:
What is heaven?