In June 2009, my younger brother Tim was killed in a gliding accident in Michigan, USA near Ann Arbor. He was 29 years old. He was a helicopter pilot for MidWest MedFlight, an air ambulance based out of Ann Arbor. Needless to say, this was a shock for us all!
He was about to become head pilot at his company, and had amassed around 3,000 flight hours doing everything from flying instructing, to offshore oil field work, to his current job with MedWest MedFlight. That Sunday morning on June 14, 2009 he decided to take a trial flight at Richmond Field near Gregory, MI, to see if he wanted to learn how to fly gliders. Tim would be a passenger for the flight.
Tim was seated in the front of the glider with the instructor in the back.
As the glider was launched into the sky with a winch based cable, the cable broke at an inopportune time.
As the instructor turned back to the airfield to make an emergency landing (as they are taught to do), the glider ran out of airspeed and nose-dived into the ground, with Tim taking the brunt of the impact. Emergency paramedics worked on him for 45 minutes but were unable to revive him. His injuries were too severe.
The pilot survived the impact, but spent 3 months in hospital with multiple injuries and a spinal injury.
As with any death of a family member, we were devastated.
We made arrangements to travel to Michigan to attend his funeral and burial.
A couple of interesting things happened in the weeks leading up to Tim's death which we now believe were God preparing us for what was to come. Exactly six weeks earlier, I suddenly got the idea to buy a suit. I didn't own one, but I didn't actually need one either. Nevertheless, I obeyed the prompting in my spirit and went out and purchased a suit.
After purchasing the suit, still not knowing why I had purchased it, I distinctly remember remarking to my dad, "I hope I haven't bought this for your funeral!" Little did I know that almost exactly 7 weeks later, I would be wearing it to my little brother's funeral.
There were other things too, like my mother receiving a dream a few weeks before Tim's death in which her late mother came to her and gave her a big hug, and said, 'You need it'. Then there was the picture of the new Triumph Daytona motorcycle Tim had posted on Facebook just a few weeks before his death. I was so disturbed by it that I remember saying out loud at the time, "Rest in Peace, Tim". That was unusual for me to have such a strong reaction to a picture of a motorbike, given that he was an experienced rider.
Then finally in late May, a few weeks before his death, I remember waking up and feeling really bad about Tim, like I have never done before, and ended up praying to God to look after him.
Those things in retrospect were a forewarning of what was to come, although I didn't recognise it at the time.
First Message From God
On the night of Tim's funeral on Wednesday June 24, 2009, inspired by a story that my dad had read ("Questions of Life" by Nicky Gumbel) about a son's prayer to God asking him about his Dad's final resting place, my Dad said a prayer to God, asking Him about Tim's final destination. Two days later he would get his response!
The next day we decided to get Chinese takeaways for dinner. We had to walk about 10 minutes across the highway and down to the China Garden restaurant in Whitmore Lake, MI. Along with our meal came two fortune cookies. We each opened our fortune cookie and read the message inside them. My one said something about finding new friends which didn't mean much to me! My Dad's one however, would play a pivotal role in what was to come later that night. It simply read, "It is given to you to discern higher truths."
Later that night, my dad awoke to a message right in front of him, similar to the strip of paper that the fortune cookie was written on, that simply said, "The Road to Milford Sound is Open". Here he is in his own words:
"I puzzled about this strange message, which had no resemblance to any thing I had dreamed that night - if in fact I had dreamed at all, so, well, it just puzzled me.........Then I thought about Milford Sound, where I had once spent several weeks at the Milford Hotel as it then was in the 1960s, at the time of the summer season where my job was to fly guests from the airstrip on various scenic flights or wherever they wished to go.
For the whole time I was there, the weather was absolutely perfect. I would get up early in the cool of the morning and make sure that my aircraft was ready to fly immediately after breakfast. 'The most beautiful scenic flights in the world' and similar claims - how people would declare the scenery at Milford Sound. As being 'out of this world.'
As early as 100 years ago, some described it as a 'Paradise.' With sudden amazement I translated the message as 'The road to Paradise is open'."
As if to confirm that this message had come from God, the time that Dad had awoken was 3:20am. This was the time in New Zealand when Tim was killed. Locally, it was 11:20am Michigan time. This was the first of four messages that we would receive regarding Tim's death.
Second Message From God
Nearly six months on from Tim's death, I was still struggling with his passing, and wondering about his final state. Then, one day as I was driving home from the airport, I noticed a motorbike exactly the same as Tim's parked on the side of the road. A Triumph Daytona. (Click to View) That is not a common bike to see in a town of 6,000 people.
I told my Dad about it and he went down and had a look at it. Just as he was getting out of the car from returning home, a very low and noisy helicopter flew over the house in somewhat rainy weather. I had never seen or heard a helicopter fly so low over the house before! It made quite the impression!
As we walked inside, I noted that that was two things that related to Tim in very quick succession. It wasn't until later that night that I came to the sudden realisation that this was a message from God that everything is okay and not to worry about Tim's final state. At that moment I felt 99% of my sadness lift off me, and I was happy! God is good!
Nearly two years later however, I was beginning to question whether that really was a message from God or just a coincidence, and it was starting to affect the peace that God gave me nearly two years earlier.
Then on August 1, 2011, I received an email from my Dad about the helicopter that flew over the house on that rainy day.
He was awake one night and couldn't sleep and got to thinking about that helicopter. Using an online calculator, he figured out that the direction that it was flying in was 65 degrees - the exact path you would take if you were to fly from Alexandra in New Zealand where Dad's house is, to Pinckney, MI, USA where Tim was living at the time of his death! I was amazed! Not only because it confirmed the fact that this was indeed a divinely aligned message from God, but also because Dad had thought about it at all!
God knew the thoughts of my heart, and saw to it to restore the peace that He had originally given me nearly two years earlier! And so it came to pass, one of the scriptures that was read at the funeral; "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted". - Matthew 5:4.
Third Message From God
When we were in Michigan, we had to get a lawyer to take care of Tim's estate and other affairs. On December 24, 2009 (Christmas Eve), we received an email from her. It turns out she had a very real dream about Tim the night before and wanted to share it with us. Little did she know that Tim was an avid coffee buff who attended a coffee class, his favourite website was a coffee website, and he was planning other things revolving around coffee!
Here is her email:
"P.S. I had a dream about Tim last night! (It seemed so real). I saw a helicopter coming towards my house and I saw Tim wave to me, I waved back and he landed the helicopter in the field next to my house. He turned the helicopter off and joined a picnic I was having with alot of people that I didn't recognize. He sat down and seemed to know everyone there, he asked me for a cup of coffee, but as I was bringing it out my alarm clock went off!
The dream seemed very real and special. He looked real happy, handsome, slender, healthy and very self assured. Was Tim a coffee drinker? I remember offering him an assortment of cold drinks (it was a hot day) and thinking that it was strange that he was the only one at the party who wanted a hot coffee)! Anyway, that was my dream, who knows where all this comes from!"
In a subsequent email she replied: "I almost didn't mention the coffee part of my dream, but I had this nagging feeling that there was some significance to it - probably so you'd know for sure that the message was from Tim. I can't believe he even visited a coffee website and took coffee classes!!!"
So it would appear that this was a third message given to us about how Tim is, on the eve of Christmas, to give us comfort over the holiday period!
Fourth Message From God
One year after Tim had died, my mum found she was still struggling with Tim's passing. In June of that year (Winter time in New Zealand), she had been watching a very late chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly on one of her plants. They normally hatch around March or at the very latest in April, but this one was the very last of the season, and much later than all the rest.
Then one day the chrysalis finally hatched! Normally they fly away within a day or two of them hatching, but this one hung around for three or four days before finally trying to fly away.
On its first attempt to fly it fell to the ground. This isn't unusual when they are just learning to fly. On seeing this, my Mum thought about picking it up when it suddenly took off and landed on her forehead! It sat there for 3-4 seconds, long enough for her to realise that this was a special message from God that Tim was okay. Then it flew away.
Then she realised what day it was - June the 15th - the day Tim had died exactly one year earlier! This was a special message from God to her, to let her know that everything would be okay, and it was. It left her with a feeling of peace that comforted her and allowed her to move on with her life and let go of the grief. She knew that everything would be okay after that.
(Click to Enlarge Any Item)
Tim At Work
Standing on an oil rig.
Tim's Triumph Daytona Motorbike.
Alexandra to Pinckney
Flight Path from N.Z. to USA (Link)
Tim's cross at Richmond Field.
Me, Dad and David.