The Empty Swing

September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

Sometimes you just need another witness. Another voice saying, “Yes, this is true. You’re not crazy.”

Today I’m deeply grateful to my friend Amber for giving me another witness.


For six years I have known about a little boy who has communicated in a multitude of ways that he is a part of our family, though not yet in the flesh. Just to give you a little more background, let me share a few of the experiences I have had with him.

One of my first experiences with this beautiful soul came as an intense moment of knowing as I processed the discovery that my 4th baby had originally been sharing my womb with a twin. You can read the full, intense, emotional 2011 blogpost here. At the end of the post, I wrote:

Thinking and writing about it all, I can feel that bit of sadness and loss fading away, leaving peace and understanding in its place. And, even now, my eyes well up with tears of knowing… Yes, I know it now. I can feel it in my bones. I can see it in my tears and in the burning, overwhelming love and joy filling me and surrounding me. Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.

P.S. I gave birth to a baby boy in my dreams two nights ago.

In the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a yoga retreat where I had another spiritual experience with my son. By this point I had come to understand that his name was Elijah. This is what I wrote about what I saw:

I was privileged to spend time with someone very dear to me in the spirit world, my Aunt Paula. We didn’t really talk at first. We just looked at each other, and then I held her hand. After a while she told me she wanted to introduce me to someone. Another spirit appeared. . . . It was my unborn son. I have come to know him much better over the course of the past month, to understand more about who he is and why he will be a blessing to my family (and the world). His features were fuzzy to me, but I think he appeared as a teenager with dark hair like my husband. His presence was beautiful.

In 2015, after my second descent into the abyss of hell with anxiety and depression, and four years after first learning of him, I had another spiritual experience with Elijah. At the time, I had essentially given up hope of ever meeting him in the flesh. I just couldn’t foresee how I would ever have the strength to bring any more children into my family. I hadn’t felt Elijah’s spirit around much for a while, but then while attending another yoga retreat, I was surprised to feel his familiar presence once again. During a guided imagery relaxation experience, we talked together:

I was in the Swiss Alps, sitting under a lovely old tree on a swing, and he came and sat by me (in the form of a handsome teenager). His presence was like heaven… it felt so amazing I couldn’t even describe to you what it felt like. I told him I was scared that it would kill me to bring him here. He smiled tenderly at me and said, “It won’t kill you.” But he also said, “I love you no matter what you decide.”

I had forgotten about the swing in this experience until just now. The swing makes it all the more awesome. You’ll see why in a minute.

Despite the number of experiences I have had, I often still wonder if Elijah is real or just a delusion. Two summers ago, I was privileged to be interviewed by Amber, who produced (along with Anna and Camlyn) the Splitting the Sky Series.  At the time, I was pregnant, and I talked quite a lot about my unborn son in the interview, in part because I had hoped my 5th baby was going to be him. (You can read about when I discovered my 5th baby was a girl here.)

So Amber and I were texting a few days ago, and she said, “Can I tell you something?” She had been wanting to tell me ever since reading my recent blogpost, “When Someone is Missing,” and seeing the photo I used to accompany the blogpost. I’ll add it here for reference…

Invisible child

Amber always has wonderful, insightful things to say, so I was eager to find out what it was she wanted to tell me. I’ll post a condensed version of what she said here:

When I was editing your video, I had the strongest feeling over and over again that Elijah is real. I’m trying to think of how to say this, but I felt like he was in the footage that I shot. Without me knowing it until I put the footage in my computer.

As I was visually trying to tell the story of your twins (Emily and Elijah), I discovered that I had shot a lot of footage of Emily on the swing. And then I noticed that in almost all the footage I had of you (the actual interview footage) there was an empty swing behind you in the frame. And then, as I continued working the footage, I found the stuff I’d taken of you and your whole family swinging in that hammock. And I actually started thinking of that swing as a symbol for your womb.  

The point is that all these funny symbolic repetitions popped up over and over and over again and I felt really strongly that everything you had told me was true and that Elijah was there during the interview and found a way to be captured and represented in the footage we shot. . . . And if you’re up for it, sometime you should go watch the video again and look for Elijah while watching. It’s kinda fun!

 Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 9.35.24 PM

Amber’s words were such a comfort to me. I have known and loved Elijah for such a long time, but hearing Amber’s story and re-watching the interview with my family gave me another tender assurance that I’m not crazy. I didn’t invent Elijah. He is real, he is with me, he loves me, he is clever, and apparently he loves symbols and imagery as much as I do.


If you want to (re)watch my interview video, you can find it HERE.