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The Sibling Connection


     Many bereaved siblings speak of having almost supernatural experiences related to the death of their sibling. One of these was Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). As a young child he had a problem with sleepwalking. One night he sleepwalked into the room where his nine year old sister, Margaret, was lying sick in bed. Sam tugged at the cover of his sister's bed, a gesture associated in those days (in folk tales) with imminent death. A few days later, Margaret died. The family concluded that Sam had foreseen the event.

     He did not understand the odd way everyone looked at him after his sister's death; he thought that by tugging at the cover of her bed that he was responsible for her death. Throughout his life, this guilt would resurface when anyone close to him died.

     A second unusual experience took place regarding his younger brother, Henry Clemens. Both young men worked on the Mississippi river boat, "Pennsylvania".

     While the boat was tied up in St. Louis, Sam and Henry went ashore to visit their sister. After dinner that night, Henry went back to the boat, but Sam stayed on at his sisterís house.

     As he dropped off to sleep, Sam had a terrifying dream in which he saw the body of his brother Henry lying in a casket which was balanced across two chairs. On top of it was a bouquet of white roses with a single red one in the middle. The dream was so vivid that Sam awoke with his heart pounding. Thinking it had really happened, he rushed downstairs expecting to find his brotherís body there. But to his intense relief, he learned that Henry was perfectly all right. It was just a dream. A very bad dream. Happily, Sam went back to bed.

     Sam was transferred to another boat, but Henry continued on up the river on the "Pennsylvania". Three days later Sam heard the fearful news that the boilers had blown up while his brotherís boat was just below Memphis. One hundred fifty people were killed or injured. Among them, Samís beloved brother Henry.

     Hurrying at once to Memphis, Sam reached his brotherís side the night before he died, and sat with him during his final hours. The next morning, sick with grief, he went down to the room where the bodies of the dead were awaiting burial. Henryís body lay in a metal casket that was balanced across two chairs, just as Sam had seen it two weeks earlier in his prophetic dream. There was only one thing missingó the roses.

     But even as Sam stood there watching, one of the volunteer nurses came up with a bouquet of white roses and laid them on the casket. In the center of the bouquet was a single blood-red blossom.


     This description taken in part from material written by Diane Hoag.


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