What Lies Beyond: Before and After Life

Photo: Colin Anderson / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

An extraordinary story of contact with an existence before birth and after death

Are our lives on Earth only small episodes in the continuity of our existence? What lies beyond it, both before and after life? Brenda Bush was privileged, she believes, with astonishing memories of the moments before her birth -- memories for which she would later find proof. But this was not her only contact with "the other side." Far from it. Though brushed with tragedy, she and other members of her family experienced an ongoing connection with loved ones who had passed beyond this life. This is Brenda's story:

I am happy to know that I am not the only person who has had a pre-birth experience. I was with what appeared to me to be Catholic nuns -- in heaven, I believe -- who told me, "Come now, it is your turn to be born." I was scared to go and remember the fright of leaving the familiar faces and the nuns in their familiar long white gowns and long white headdresses. They were the ones who were taking care of me before I was born onto the Earth. The one nun who spoke to me also said, "I have pictures to show you of your family members."

She showed me the pictures and told me who they were. These were moving pictures, and at the end each moving picture, the person would seem to go back to their original pose in the picture. As I looked at one picture, I asked why the little girl in it had her hand wrapped up, and the nun explained to me what had happened. The girl, she said, had a little glass figurine in her hand, which fell and broke, and she got cut. I watched the moving picture of this accident occurring, and then the little girl went back into the pose, sitting on the swing in a yard.


Later in my life, I found photographs of this very scene in my mother's old metal picture box. It was a very weird feeling to see them again. My sister apparently did cut her hand and there is a picture of her sitting on a swing with her hand wrapped up. She explained to me how it happened when we were much older -- the very same story the nun had told me.

I definitely remember crying and not wanting to leave the nuns, who were smiling and motioning me to go on. They waved goodbye... and then there was darkness....

My next memory is of a woman lying on a hospital bed. There were two nuns, one dressed in black and the other in white, smiling as she greeted me into the world. I was afraid of the man in the long white jacket (the doctor who delivered me). He passed me along to one of the nuns, who then gave me to my mother. I was a little reluctant to be with my mother because she was not dressed like the other women. I remember seeing her hair. I had never seen the nuns' hair before. She was different to me, yet I recognized her from the pictures the nuns had shown me, so I knew it would be okay and I stopped crying. My mother hugged me... and then my memory fades until until about age three.

I was a shy child and always a little scared because I did not know all the people around me very well, but only by remembering their pictures the nuns had shown me before I was born. I was born in a Catholic hospital -- the only hospital in our small town -- but my family was not Catholic. I wanted to be a nun and told my mother so at an early age, but she told me I could not, that was not my religion. I told her, yes it was and that I remember the nuns in heaven. They were my family before my family on earth.

My life took a strange twist when I was 21...

Next page: Seeing Uncle Cecil


My life took a strange twist when I was 21. My three-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was playing in our home one day and suddenly became very quiet. I could not find her and I became very alarmed. I was calling for her all through the house, searching closets and such. Suddenly, she came up from behind me and said, "I saw my Uncle Cecil, mommy. He held my hand and told me he was going to take me home with him and would always take care of me."

Jennifer had not known her Uncle Cecil. In fact, I had only met Cecil briefly once myself in high school, before I met his younger brother, whom I married three years later. Cecil was in the Marines and was home for a visit. He came to the high school to see his old teachers and friends. I was at the top of the stairs going to my next class when I saw the most incredibly handsome, tanned young man wearing a stunning blue Marine dress uniform, topped with a white hat. His white gloves were strapped on the shoulder of his uniform.

I was so breathtaken that I dropped my books all the way down the stairs. I was new to the school; it was only my first month there and felt like a total klutz for dropping my books in front of this very handsome guy. He had a wonderful smile. He tipped his hat to me, revealing his snow-white hair. He helped me pick up my books. A senior named Chrissy was also helping, and she introduced me to Cecil. That was the one and only time I ever saw him.

Cecil drown while on duty in 1971, just five months after I met him. His pictures were never around the house because his mother was so grief-stricken that she hid them and hated to see the Marine photos of her son sitting around. I don't even recall how I became interested in his younger brother, who looked nothing like Cecil, but we were married in 1974, right after I graduated high school.

I told my little daughter she could not have seen her Uncle Cecil, but asked her what he looked like. Jennifer said he was wearing a long white gown and had white hair. Indeed, Cecil's hair had been bleached snow white before he died from being out in the sun so much where he was stationed at the Marine base in Cherry Point, North Carolina.

Cecil was not discussed much at my in-laws' home because of the cloud of doubt around his mysterious death. He drown while swimming in an off-limits area where swimming was strictly prohibited. The mystery around his death stemmed from the bump on the back of his head. The Marine Corps told my mother-in-law that he hit his head when he dove into the water, and had his body not snagged on a log beneath the water, he would have been washed out to sea. The bump should have been on the front if he was diving into the water when he hit his head, as the Marine Corps indicated, not on the back.

I told Jennifer that she could not have seen her Uncle Cecil, but I would take her to where he lived. I had never been to his grave, but since it was a small town cemetery I was sure I could find it. As I drove through the single-lane cemetery, Jennifer's little finger began to point to a headstone, and she said, "There he is, mommy. There is where Uncle Cecil lives. That is where I am going to live and he is going to hold my hand and take care of me."

Needless to say, I was blown right out of the water. Sure enough, my three-year-old was pointing directly to his headstone. Then the scariest thing happened...

Next page: Tragedy and Connection


My car completely stopped and I could not turn over the engine to make it start. Trying to regain my composure, I got out and walked over to the grave with my daughter and assured her that Uncle Cecil was in heaven and that she did not see him in our home. We got back into the car -- and it started like nothing was ever wrong. I flew out of the cemetery to my mother-in-law's home and told her the story of Jennifer seeing her uncle and what had just happened at the cemetery.

Three years later, Jennifer became strangely ill and was diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor. Jennifer was remarkably smart to the point of reading at levels higher than the schools could test her. She was very gifted and my world almost came crashing down on me when one year later she died at age 6, in 1981. I was, of course, completely unprepared for her death, although I knew for one full year that the tumor could not be operated on. I was in denial. I had not purchased a grave plot, nor would I ever even have thought I would be going through the horrific experience of losing a child.

My in-laws were kind enough to offer an empty grave plot to us... right beside her Uncle Cecil -- exactly where Jennifer had pointed to just three years prior to her death. When they dug my daughter's grave, the side of Cecil's vault was exposed. Their two vaults scrapped when they lowered hers into the ground. They literally could be reaching out holding hands, they are buried so closely together -- just as Jennifer had predicted. Ten years apart in their deaths, they lay there side by side!

If it were only to have all ended here... but my story gets more bizarre.


Shortly after my daughter passed, my mother-in-law invited me to come visit her. She sounded very strange, and I could tell by her voice that I should go immediately to see what was wrong. She told me that Jennifer had come to the foot of her bed in the middle of the night and said, "Grandma, I have come to take you home with me. I miss you, grandma."

My mother-in-law stated to me that she told my daughter she could not go now and leave grandpa alone. My darling Jennifer told her grandma, "I will give you ten years, grandma, then I am coming to take you home with me."

I was so upset at what my mother-in-law had told me. I was sure she was hallucinating or even just trying to be cruel to me. Perhaps, I thought, she had even put Little Jenny up to talking about Cecil when she was just little. Could she be that cruel? Why would she hurt me this way? I was sure she was a very bitter woman, scorned form losing her beloved son and more bitter after her granddaughter had passed. My relationship with her was very rocky after this, and I was having emotional problems from dealing with my own daughter's death and did not need to hear such twisted stories.

Next page: Dreams and Dreams Fulfilled


My relationship began to crumble with my husband, too. I felt betrayed by him and felt he was more sensitive to his hysterical mother than to me. I began to have recurring dreams of being married to a tall, slender, dark-haired man. I would see my home being sold and traveling on the road in halves (it was a modular house, so this was possible). Still, it made no sense to me, but I recognized that the house was traveling toward a town just 12 miles north of where I lived in Ohio. In my mind's eye in my dreams, I would travel down that road to the countryside, to an old farmhouse that was so run down it scared me to be there.

Over and over, I would have this strange dream, and each time in the dream I would walk closer and closer to the farmhouse until one day I walked up onto the back porch, opened the screen door and went in. Then the door would suddenly fly shut behind me, the the old wooden farmhouse door would latch shut and I could not get out.

A little room partitioned off by curtains was right beside the back door, and the curtains were blowing open revealing lighted candles on shelves and a book with pages blowing open. Then the pages seemed to be ripping out and blowing all around the room. I would pull franticly at the door and would finally get it open. I ran down the long lane away from the house, being chased by barking dogs.

Thankfully, I would wake up but in a cold sweat. I had this dream often, but would always be relieved to wake up and find out I was not divorced and was in my own bed in my own home.

Finally, in 1989, my husband and I did divorce. Two years later, in the middle of the night, I got a call from my ex-husband that my ex-mother-in-law wanted me to come to the hospital to see her. I found out she had a brain tumor in almost the exact spot where Jennifer's was. She passed away 10 years after my daughter's death, exactly as Jennifer said, when she would come to take her home with her.

My home and my life in the 1980s was a very low point in my life. I also had lost a sister to cancer two years after my daughter passed away. I took a job and moved from the small town where my husband and I went to school together. The town was suffocating me and I had to get away from all the bad memories there and my daughter's grave, which I obsessed over and went to daily.

The job I accepted was in a town 12 miles north. It was a grocery store and was on the same road I traveled in my dreams. The road ran past the very place where I met my second husband - a tall, slender man with dark hair.

We moved just northeast of my home town to an old farmhouse that was his mother's family homestead. Her father had built this house in the 1920s when he moved here from Italy. Our old home required a lot of fixing up. I hated it because it was so much like the farmhouse in my dreams, complete with an old door that would slam shut behind me. I do not feel the presence of ghosts in this house, nor have I ever even missed one night's sleep, even though many of my husband's mother's family have passed away here and the funerals took place in the dining room.

This is the first time I have put this all down in writing, but after reading it, some things seems to have unfolded in my life like it was all in a story book... and was already written for me.