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Conversations with My Dead Mother

Why We See Signs and Omens in Everyday Events

Shortly after my mother died, I began to experience certain events that challenged my otherwise skeptical beliefs about the afterlife. To any objective observer, these events wouldn’t seem particularly profound; some were in fact so subtle and mundane that they wouldn’t have even registered in my consciousness under normal circumstances. But in the wake of my loss, my mind freighted with grief, these banal happenings took on special significance. It was as though my mom—or rather, her spirit—was attempting to part the veil between this world and the next, intent on communicating with me, her stubbornly atheistic child.

The morning after she passed, for instance, I awakened to the faint, melodious sounds of the wind chimes that hung from a tree branch just beneath her bedroom window. It was a still morning, but surely a breeze must have stirred it. My kneejerk thought was not at all in keeping with my beliefs. “That’s her,” I said instinctively to myself. “She’s telling me she’s okay.”

One evening, as I lay reading in bed, I heard a loud crash—the sound of broken glass. Rushing downstairs to see what had caused it, I found that a stained glass window, an extraction from an old church that I’d propped up decoratively on a shelf, had somehow fallen and shattered on the concrete floor. My mind raced to find an explanation. The cat, perhaps? But the cat had been sleeping soundly at the foot of my bed and had jumped at the sudden noise just as I had. I still can’t be certain, but in all probability, I’d merely left it leaning precariously on the shelf, with an eventual disastrous tumble being inevitable.

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About Skeptic

THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL AND GOD COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Laser Therapy: Hope or Hype and Hokum?, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: The Sisyphean Challenges of Skepticism or, Start by Disbelieving, by Carol Tavris ARTICLES Pterosaur Thunderbird: The Origin of a Fake Native American Legend with an Anti- Evolution Agenda • Conversations with My Dead Mother: Why We See Signs and Omens in Everyday Events • Is Cousin Marriage Dangerous? • Therapeutic Touch Redux Twenty Years After the “Emily Event”: Energy Therapies Live on Through Bad Science • What Can Science Learn from Religion? Steven Pinker on Religious Beliefs and Rituals • Becoming Fantastic: Why People Embellish Already Accomplished Lives with Incredible Tales of UFOs and Other Phenomena • 1984 in 2019: The New Privacy Threat from China’s Social Credit Surveillance System SPECIAL DEBATE SECTION Michael Shermer v. Brian Huffling: Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God? REVIEW Graham Hancock’s “America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization” reviewed by Jason Colavito JUNIOR SKEPTIC The Colossal Case of the Cardiff Giant: One of America’s Greatest Hoaxes