A Hug From Richard

In her book, Heart Prints; Walking on Holy Ground, Julie Ireland Keene starts off a chapter titled “The Faces of Angels Among Us” with a heartwarming story about her son who died far too young. All the elements line up so perfectly that it would be a stretch to attribute it all to coincidence. You make the call.


The wise words of Rumi: “Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment” apply to an experience I had several years ago that remains vivid, consoling, and bewildering. For quite some time I had been focused on releasing the grief concerning my son Richard’s sudden death at age nine. For far too long I had carried the hundred pound weight on my heart and with the help of my dear friend Ione along with spiritual teachers such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Stephen Levine, Ram Dass and others, I made great progress. I took care of my unfinished business with him, dealt with guilt over not being a perfect parent, and was able to see the wonderful gift of having this dear loving soul in my life for nine years.

I had always dreamed of Richard in his nine year old earth suit. However, after I had gone through the process of releasing the pain but keeping him close in love, I had a dream of him as a young man. It was a clear ‘in my face’ dream of him, and he was smiling. There was just one thing I still longed for—a real hug—but I knew that could only happen after I made my own transition.

Then one Saturday in July several years ago in Vancouver, Washington, Ione and I were presenting a Dream Interpretation workshop at a Unity church. There was a sign out on the sidewalk inviting anyone interested to stop in and see what it was all about. The workshop was in progress with about 15 people sitting in a circle in the church basement, when a young man walked in. He seemed familiar somehow, and as the minutes passed, I had a sudden realization: “He looks just like Richard in my dream!” Goosebumps appeared on my arms, a shiver ran up my back, and I was in a state of surreal consciousness difficult to describe, but what felt like dreaming and floating.

At the break, I approached the young man and briefly told him about my son, the dream and how he looked like a grown Richard. I didn’t even have to ask for the hug; we just naturally embraced as the love flowed. In those moments he shared that he felt the need of mother love because of his own experiences, which he didn’t describe. It was almost time for the workshop to resume. He said that he couldn’t stay because of other obligations and left—after one more hug.

After the workshop was over, I asked the minister and several people if they knew who this young man was. Everyone answered that they had not seen him before. I was sharing my wonderment with Ione as we were packing up to leave. She said, “Julie, don’t you remember what day this is? July 26?” It was RIchard’s birthday! Somehow my dear son, by the grace of God, had given me a hug on his birthday!  Or an angel had appeared in that form—whatever it was, it was a delightful bewilderment.


Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?

Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier

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SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.

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Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.

Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.

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4 Responses to “A Hug From Richard”

  1. Kim Says:

    Love this story — thanks for sharing!

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    My pleasure, Kim!

  3. debreilly Says:

    How lovely that Ms. Keene didn’t write it off as coincidence. And neither did you, Phil. :)

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yes, I long ago stopped believing in coincidences, Deb!

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