The lady who dreamt of the map of the cemetery in which her son lay
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Death and its Mystery – After Death – Camille Flammarian
It was during the last days of May, 1915. I was suffering from the most intense grief which it is possible for a woman to experience. I had just learned of the death of my eldest son, Georges, a sergeant in the twenty-fifth Regiment of the line. He had fallen, on May 23d, in the attack on the Labyrinth.
He was swallowed up at twenty-seven, leaving a young wife, twenty-four years old, and two babies.
In the opinion of those who knew him, he was a serious, steady, most cultivated young man; his heart was tender and good, and he was endowed with great energy.
The grief of all of us was intense. Preyed upon all day long by the thought of the terrible truth, and above all, by the supposition, which was so cruel, that the dear boy had no coffin, my suffering was indescribable. At night I should not have been able to sleep without the bromide of potassium which my children had me take in the evening. I am giving these details to bring out the fact that on the night 'of which I shall speak, I was sleeping calmly and deeply. My slumbers could not well have been interrupted without cause, and have begun again almost immediately.
Well, when I was sleeping in this way, I saw the little picture given here.
[picture showing number 13 and series of parallel lines to the right]
I saw it very distinctly, very clearly. At once, without having been awakened by any shock or any noise, I opened my eyes, fully awake, as one is in broad daylight. I told myself, 'I've seen that; what can it be?’ And without any effort I fell, once more, into the same sort of sleep.
The next day I spoke to my family of what I had seen, and then we thought no more of it. This, I repeat, took place during the period immediately following the death. It was at this same time that my son-in-law, Monsieur Tricard, an instructor in Cherbourg, left for the front, and for the same region north of Arras. He told me to have courage, and swore that he would do everything possible to find the grave of our Georges.
He kept his promise, did my dear son whom we mourn, Lieutenant Tricard. He fell at Verdun, in September, 1916.
On August 8, 1915, he sent me a touching letter, which I still have, with the map of the cemetery in which my poor child lay. This map had been given him by the chaplain of the regiment who had conducted the burial service; he had set down the details I wished for, on the second page of a book.
I enclose this map [it is not given here]. On it the graves are represented by parallel lines, and one of these lines, longer than the others, has opposite it the words: "13th grave, G. Demeantis."
My emotion may be imagined! The above picture, which I had seen in my sleep, during one of the nights that followed my child’s death, returned to my mind, and this disturbing association gave me not merely hope but conviction, apart from any religious dogma: the conviction that the best of us does not perish with the body; that the spirits of those we have lost still exist and go on living, apart from our little sphere.
And from the bottom of my heart I give thanks to the great thinkers who, rising above skeptical, materialistic critics, laboriously seek to find scientific proofs of the immortality of the soul.