Is it possible for those that have died to come back and visit us? Maybe give us signs that they are still around us? You hear stories of such visitations all the time. Or is that just grief? Is it just the way for the living to deal with the loss of a loved one, looking for signs all around?
One young victim of the terrible Rhode Island club fire of 2003
seems to be reaching out to his family from beyond the world of the living...from beyond the grave. And the number 41
is significant to him and his grieving family.
Nick O'Neill was 18 years old, and was a member of a metal group, Shryne. His young band was to open for Great White
at The Station on February 21, 2003. Nick had decided to go to the club the night before to check everything out. That night, the pyrotechnics were ignited and burned the club down. More than 200 were injured, and 100 people died.
Growing up, Nick's loved ones joked about the boy's fascination with the number 41. He'd point out the numbers all over the place - on a sport's team jersey, on TV, on a license plate, everywhere. It seems after Nick's untimely death, he's using the number 41 to communicate to his family.
The signs are so compelling, Nick's father, Dave Kane (pictured upper right
), wrote a book titled 41 Signs of Hope
. It tells of his family's loss and the profound signs all around them from their departed Nick. Dave Kane points out just a few of the signs:
* Nick lived to be 18 years, 23 days old; 18+23=41
* The club, The Station, is at latitude 41
* A song Nick wrote for his girlfriend, found after his death, runs 5 minutes 41
* Nick's brother, David, new cell phone number ends in 41
* Nick wrote a play called "They Walk Among Us" about three teens that die and become angels in order to protect a gay teen being harassed. Nick's parents had never seen the show performed at the local Woonsocket theatre, so they decided to attend a performance in Nick's honor. During the intermission, the power went out and the 600 audience memebers were told to exit. Suddenly the power came back on...at 8:41
. One of Nick's brothers was actually staring at his watch, and knew the electricity would return right on the minute.
* A plaque installed at the Woonsocket Theatre where Nick performed and wrote a well-received play for was randomly placed on Row 4
, seat 1
(no one at the theatre knew of the significance of 41)
* A music box Nick's mother received as a gift started playing by itself, with no prior winding, at 9:41
. The song that played was titled, "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Interestingly, the song is from a musical called "Carousel"
which is a show about a young guy that dies and comes back to watch over his grieving family. That gave me a chill.
*Nick's other brother, Bill, was recently trying to decide which music college to go to - one in San Francisco or one in Connecticut. When visiting the school in California, he went to a restaurant and was seated at table 41
. Lookng out the window, he noticed a bus going by - it's number: 41
. When his check came, the seriel number ended in 41
. When he visit the school, he studied the college's plans for renovations which included 41
practice rooms, 41
studios, and a recording studio that measured 41
1 square feet. (I did some digging and found that there's a second new stuidio built that measured 414 square feet
).He later realized San Francisco's area code is 41
5 and the zip codes begin with 941
. How many signs does a guy need?
Bill enrolled in the school shortly thereafter.
Is this all just coincidence? Or is the work of so much grief, that the family is simply more aware of the number 41? Rabbi Earl Grollman, a grief counselor and author of many books about dealing with the loss of a loved one believes that people naturally look for signs from the departed. "They need to feel the person is still with them. It brings them a lot of comfort and a lot of hope. It's a very natural thing" Grollman says.
It's not just the immediate family experiencing the signficance of the number 41. Cousins, uncles, aunts, and Nick's friends have all had some sort of communication with Nick. In fact, Bella English, a reporter for the Boston Globe had her own weird experience during her interview with the family. Nick's parents showed Ms. English a video of Nick's play, "They Walk Among Us." When the video was over, the time on the machine read 4:1
1. After the interview, she waited until the newspaper's photographer arrived before leaving. When she started her car, she glanced at her clock and it was 4:41
But again, is this simply a case where the mind is more aware of something when it's pointed out? Think about it. Someone ever tell you about a song or TV commercial, and it's something you've never seen or heard. But after having it pointed out to you - it seems that damn song or commercial is coming on every 5 minutes? Or how about after you buy that new car. After your awareness is peaked, now you notice your same make and model of your car all over the place!
Whether it's a brain recognition thing, a grief thing, or a spiritual thing, it's still important to Nick's family. No amount of arguing is going to change their minds. They believe their son is still with them, and gives them plenty of signs to let them know he's there. Even when they least expect it. Like this one final example for instance:
After Nick's death, a relative was showing home movies from years ago. In it, Nick is still just a baby, and his mother is lifting him up, lovingly for the camera. He's wearing a cute baseball outfit, and he's smiling happily. The baseball cap reads...41