He was an only son, who died, at the age of eighteen, of tuberculosis. Gifted with rare intelligence, reasoning powers beyond his years, a great love of study, gentle, affectionate, sympathetic, he possessed all the qualities that give the fairest promise of a brilliant future. Having successfully finished his preliminary studies, he was diligently preparing for admission to the Polytechnic School. His death was a terrible blow to his parents, and was felt by them all the more acutely because, as his health had always been delicate, they attributed his premature decease to the assiduous study in which they had encouraged him to persevere, and they therefore reproached themselves bitterly with his loss, as though it had resulted from a crime on their part. “Of what use will all his studies be to him now?” they despondently asked themselves; “It would have been far better had he remained ignorant, for he had no need of all this learning to make him live. If he had not studied so hard, he would doubtless be still with us, and he would have been the joy and the consolation of our old age!” Had they been spiritists, they would have reasoned otherwise. At a later period, they became acquainted with the spiritist theory of life and obtained from it the true and only consolation for such a loss. The following communication was made, by their son, to one of their friends, a few months after his death:
Q. My dear Maurice, I cannot doubt that your warm attachment to your parents will give you the desire to raise their spirits, if it is possible for you to do so. The grief, I may say, the despair, in which they have been plunged by your death, has impaired their health and has made them feel disgust toward life. A few affectionate words from you may perhaps awaken hope in their hearts.
A. Dear old friend! I have been waiting impatiently for the opportunity you now offer me of communicating with them. My parents’ grief distresses me; but it will be softened when they come to know that I am not lost to them. You must direct your efforts to convincing them of this certainty, and I foresee that you will succeed in doing so. They needed this event to lead them to a belief that will give them happiness, for it will prevent their murmuring against the decree of Providence. My father, as you know, is very skeptical in regard to a future life; this affliction has been allowed by God to befall him in order to draw him out of his error.
We shall meet again, in this other world in which we no longer undergo the sufferings of human life, and into which I have gone before them; but tell them the satisfaction of seeing me will be refused them, as a means of correction, if they lack confidence in the goodness of God. Such a state of mind, on their part, would even lead to my being forbidden to hold communication with them, henceforth, through the rest of their earthly lives. Despair is a revolt against the will of the Almighty, and, as such, is always punished by the prolongation of the cause that has produced this despair, until the sufferer has submitted to the trial imposed upon him. Despair is a form of suicide, for it undermines the health of the body, and those who shorten their days, in the hope of escaping more quickly from the grip of their sorrows, prepare for themselves a terrible disappointment; they ought, on the contrary, to do their best to keep up their bodily strength, in order that they may more easily bear the weight of their trials.
My beloved parents! It is to you that I now address myself. From the time when I quitted my mortal body, I never ceased to be near you, and I am with you more frequently than when I was upon the Earth. Be consoled, then, for I am not dead! I am more alive than you are; it is only my body that is dead, for my soul is still living! I am free, happy, out of reach of diseases, infirmities, and pain. Instead of being afflicted by my departure, you should rejoice to know that I am in a region exempt from cares and anxieties, and in which the heart is filled to overflowing with pure and unmixed happiness.
Ah, my friends! Lament not for those who die young! It is a favor granted by Providence to those who no longer need to experience the tribulations of life. My last existence upon the Earth was not intended to be prolonged any further; for I acquired all that I needed to acquire, as a preparation for a more important mission that I shall have to discharge in due course of time. Had I remained longer upon the Earth, who knows whether I might not have been exposed to dangerous temptations? Who knows whether, being as yet insufficiently strong to resist the seductions of the world, I might not have succumbed to them and have thus delayed my advancement for hundreds of years? Why should those who love me regret what is, for me, so great a blessing? An inconsolable grief, in such a case, implies a want of faith that is reasonable only to those who believe in annihilation. Indeed, those who hold a belief so prolific of despair are to be greatly pitied; for them, there is no possible consolation; the beings they love are lost to them forever; the grave has robbed them of their last hope!
Q. Was your death painful?
A. No, I only suffered before dying from the disease that carried me off; but that suffering diminished as the last moments drew near; then, one day, I fell asleep without any thought of death. I began to dream, such a delightful dream! I dreamt that I was cured; I felt no more pain; I breathed in, with sound lungs and with inexpressible enjoyment, a fragrant and life-giving air! I felt myself transported through space by an unknown force; I was in the midst of light that dazzled me with its splendor and yet did not fatigue my sight. I saw my grandfather; his face was no longer thin and worn, but was fresh and youthful; he held out his arms to me and clasped me joyfully to his bosom. A crowd of people came with him, all smiling as they met me, and welcoming me with kindness and satisfaction; I seemed to remember them, I rejoiced to see them again, and we exchanged cordial greetings and expressions of friendship. Well! What I took to be a dream was a reality; I was never again to awaken upon the Earth; I had awakened in the spirit-world!
Q. Was your illness caused by excess of study?
A. No, be very sure that it was not. The length of time that I was to live upon the Earth had been marked out beforehand, and nothing could have kept me there any longer. My spirit, in its hours of disengagement, was perfectly aware of this, and rejoiced in the knowledge of its approaching deliverance. But the time I passed upon the Earth was not unprofitable to me, and I now congratulate myself for having spent it well. The studies, which I followed up so thoroughly, have strengthened my soul and increased my knowledge; it is not so much lost but, rather, so much gained; and if I have not been able to turn this knowledge to practical account during my short stay among you, I shall do so, all the more efficiently, in a future existence.
Farewell, dear friend; I am going to visit my parents, to try to prepare them for receiving this communication. MAURICE