My mother, Anne, had been in hospital in St James in Dublin City, Ireland for two years suffering from Alzheimers and various other ailments. She was 75 years of age.
On the night of Good Friday, April 2, our family members were contacted by the hospital and told that our mam would not make it through the night. Arriving at the hospital at 9 p.m., I met up with the rest of my siblings in a waiting room close to the ward in which my mam lay.
At 10:30 p.m., a nurse approached and told us we could go to our mam now and spend her last moments with her. As it turned out, those last moments turned into last hours as she bravely clung on to life until 2 a.m.
At 1:40 a.m. on the morning of the third of April, while standing in the darkened ward, illuminated only by a yellow nightlight and surrounded by the sleeping forms of the other elderly patients and my brothers and sisters, we heard an almost other worldly knocking -- rap, rap, rap -- which seemed to come from the window behind my mam's bed. We all looked at each other questioningly and let it pass.
At 1:50 a.m., it came again, this time more insistent. RAP, RAP, RAP, RAP, RAP... As if an old person was rapping at a window, trying to get some kids out of their garden.
At this I went immediately out into the hall to catch the joker who was pulling this stunt at such a sad time and give him or her a piece of my mind. Imagine my surprise when there was no one in sight. I checked wards on both sides and found only sleeping old folks. I then proceeded to look out the window onto a courtyard and found that we were three stories up, so no one playing games there either.
At 2 a.m. on the dot, my beloved mother passed away. In the aftermath in our sadness and loss, we neglected to speak of the knocking in any depth, other than to agree that we had all heard the same thing. We haven't spoken of it in years.
Twenty-one years on, some of my family have made their peace with that night and explained it away by a belief that "We were all tired, upset, grieving," etc. and that the knocking never happened, that basically we all imagined it.
I, for one, being of sound mind and not open to flights of fancy, know exactly what I heard that night and it has stayed with me ever since. It wasn't a life changing experience. I didn't immediately profess belief in an afterlife; I still don't. However, I do believe that there are some things that we mortals cannot ever hope to understand fully. This for me is one of them.