I have had four phantasmal experiences in my life. Of those four, I can easily explain two as being the lucid dreams of hypnagogia. Such an explanation does not fit the experience I had twenty-five years ago. During my Senior year of high school, I encountered what can not be easily explained. I have told few people about it, because the family and friends of the deceased are still living. I want to respect both the living and the dead. It is with some reservation that I write that I am the last person to see Billy, but not the last to see him alive.
During my Senior year, London High School offered an early morning Physics class. I and many others who needed the course for college prep, took the class. Amongst those taking the class was Billy. I can’t say too much about Billy, because we were mere acquaintances. I really didn’t know him well.
On one morning, I was running late. I arrived at school after 7:00 AM. I rushed to my locker. Since class had already started, I expected the halls to be empty, but Billy was still at his locker. I took some comfort that I was not the only one late to class. He looked at me, but I did not stop to exchange morning greetings. I was in a hurry to get to Physics class.
When I opened the door to the classroom, I expected to see the class busy in whatever lesson they were supposed to be doing that day. Instead, I walked into a classroom full of tears. I sat at my desk wondering what had happened. Our teacher announced that Billy had been in an accident. He ran off the road going around 90 mph. He was dead.
I was quiet. I initially thought, “This has to be some sort of joke. I just saw him at his locker. He’ll be here any moment.”
Yet, Billy never came through the classroom door. My classmates kept crying. It was no joke. Billy was dead. The kid I saw in the hallway was not a living breathing corporeal person.
One may explain my experience as a desire to see a friend again. I did not really see Billy in the hall. My mind projected his image back into my mental history after hearing the bad news of his death. Although the explanation sounds reasonable, I was not a good friend of Billy. He was someone I barely knew.
One could explain my experience as confusing another late student for Billy. Yet, I am confident that my eyesight was working that morning. In addition, the student was at Billy’s locker. Also, I was the last student to enter the early morning Physics class (no other classes were offered at 7:00 AM). It is unlikely that I saw someone else.
One could explain my story as being made up. This is a question of my character. Making up a story of this kind would suggest that I don’t care about Billy’s friends and family. If you do not know my character, this explanation will most likely suffice. I can not force anyone to believe that my story is an actual experience.
The best explanation I have is theological. At the time, although I practiced a form of religion, and thought of myself as a Christian, I was by no means a follower of Jesus Christ. I had no hope in the resurrection, although I had faith in the possibility of an afterlife. Seeing Billy helped to solidify my basic belief that the material world is not the only world. Although death reigns in this world, it is not the end. God used this experience and other means of general revelation to prepare me for the good news of Jesus Christ.