A curious discovery, in the aftermath of Patrick Phillips’ sudden and premature workplace death, was a report that seemed to make even the newspapermen who wrote it squirm in discomfort. While the stark details of Patrick’s violent end seemed not to disturb these facts-hardened reporters in the least, the mention of one additional point seemed to compel them to tell the story—yet cloak it in apologetic terms of disbelief.
What can be said of premonition? It always bestows that awkward twilight sense of other-worldliness. People are seldom comfortable in that realm that can be neither seen nor touched.
And yet, enough people talked about it in the early morning hours of May 18, 1912, to compel at least one reporter on this Fort Wayne Sentinel beat to take note of it.
What if Patrick hadn’t gone to work that night? What if he had yielded to that temptation he felt that night to do the 1912 equivalent of calling in sick?
Those are questions with which I’ve heard so many others torment themselves in their own tragic losses. How we try to reconstruct time with that useless attempt. How we only end up attempting to bear the blame ourselves over that which we had, really, no control.
The dumbstruck crew who witnessed the brute force of the machines with which they worked, the city-wide circle of trainmen shocked by the unstoppable demonstration which could in reality have also happened to them, the family who re-enacted all the lines they could have employed to talk a man into a different future course—all these became part of the rehearsal of regrets as they considered what could have been, if only…
A rather pathetic coincidence in connection with the death of Mr. Phillips was the fact that he seemed reluctant to go to work last night, and remarked before leaving his home that he would lay off tonight. He spoke of no presentment as to his fate, but now that he was killed while engaged at his work, the fact that he was undecided whether to report for duty last night causes some comment among the immediate friends.
Playing the "what if" game is universal. Every time I see an accident ahead, I think, "What if I had left home a few minutes earlier," "What if I had gunned it to beat the red light instead of stopping on yellow." The fact that Philip had some uneasy feeling may have simply signaled a cold coming on, or it could have been a true premonition of his impending death. The days before my father-in-law died, he kept seeing his parents. Was it simply dementia or was it a premonition? Stories like these trick me into wondering whether everyone would know when their time is up if they are paying attention.ReplyDelete
Thoughtful point, Wendy. Premonition or not, that "What If" game certainly is widespread--and frankly, tormenting to those who play it in such cases.Delete
On the other hand, there are those cases, like the example you give of your father-in-law, which make me wonder, too, what we'd realize if we were paying attention, as you said. I have had such experiences, myself, in regards to family members I've lost. It can certainly be an unnerving experience. Having experienced it myself, I am less likely to question it when others report such experiences, too.
Feelings, I think we all have uncomfortable unsettling feelings from time to time. I usually proceed with caution. My maternal Grandfather heard the angels sing the time he son was killed and knew someone was coming with the news. I believed him, he wouldn't have told me if it were not the truth:(ReplyDelete
There are certainly quite a few stories out there that make you pause and consider. How could anyone doubt something like what your grandfather experienced? Of course, we don't really know what to do with those feelings until we receive the other part of the story.Delete
I think our 5 human senses are very limited - it is obvious that there is much that we do not "hear" and observe. While science remains "so very rational," I suspect we are not tuned into "messages," even those aimed at us... but we somehow sense the "edges of them".ReplyDelete
I know I've experienced sensing those edges. You never really know for sure, though, until the rest of the story is completed. Without the full context, it's hard to interpret those "unfounded" senses. However, there is indeed a lot out there that science has yet to find a way to explain.Delete