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Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part story of Chris Brethwaite who runs the Kansas City chapter for the International Association for Near-Death Studies.

Chris Brethwaite of Raytown realized there was something more to life than just life when he was in high school in the early 1970s.

Chris walked into his kitchen one night; it was late. He’d just returned home from his job at a local pizza parlor in his hometown of Phoenix and ate a bowl of cereal. When he finished, he sat the bowl on the kitchen table and his view of the universe changed forever.

“I saw and I heard that cereal bowl move about four inches across the table,” he said.

“I was dumbfounded by the experience.”

He mentioned the incident to his father a few days later and was shocked at his father’s response.

“He had a co-worker who had dropped dead of a massive heart attack that week,” Chris said.

“My dad had seen his friend in the doorway of his bedroom. I believe the two experiences were related. I believe it was that man’s soul who moved that cereal bowl and he chose to make his presence known in a non-threatening manner.”

These incidents convinced Chris human consciousness continued after death. Years later, in 1976, his father died and gave him further proof of this.

“Several months after he died my sister woke up in her apartment and was convinced she saw my dad standing at the end of her bed,” he said. “Then she left the lights on in her apartment the next few nights.”

Chris picked up a copy of Dr. Raymond Moody’s 1975 book, “Life after Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon – Survival of Bodily Death,” and began his search for answers.

“There’s more to life than what we realize,” he said.

 “In 1975, Moody came out with his book and I have followed the literature trail ever since.”

Chris’s mother died from cancer in 2006 and has helped fuel his search.

“We’ve had things happen that we’re convinced it was my mom communicating with us,” he said.

In November 2007, Chris’s sister called him at work (Chris is a humor writer for Hallmark Cards), which was unusual for her.

“My sister never calls me at work,” he said. “She was getting ready for work that morning and opened a compartment on her dresser to take out a piece of jewelry that belonged to Mom and all of a sudden she smelled Mom’s perfume.”

As soon as she smelled the perfume, the picture on the television in her bedroom went gray.

Her first thought was the cable went out, but she could still hear the television on in the living room. She couldn’t think of anything in her room that would have a scent of her mother’s perfume and, if it did, why she hadn’t smelled it before that day.

“She was baffled by this experience,” Chris said. “One of the things she couldn’t figure out was the significance of the date.”

Chris telephoned their brother in Phoenix and asked if the date meant anything to him.

It did. His brother and sister-in-law had gone to court that day to get legal custody of their younger brother who has Down syndrome.

“That was the last piece of business that was unfinished from Mom,” he said, but his mother has made her presence known in other ways.

“My sister and I have had experiences where we’ve smelled votive candles in the house when we have no reason to. We assign that to Mom who was a devout Catholic. Not only have we had these unexplained experiences but these unexplained experiences have been on very significant days.”

Such as an occurrence with a clock in Chris’s home.

“The only habit my mom had was collecting clocks,” he said.

“I only have one clock similar to what she would have collected. At the one-month anniversary of her passing it stopped at the time of her death. If there is no life after death you would not have ghost stories or psychic dreams and vision, I don’t think those things would exist.”

Next week: The International Association for Near-Death Studies.

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”