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Often, God prepares us for "disasters" and then allows supernatural consolation -- often in dreams.

That's apparent in the case of Rose Laumbach Monreal, an Austin, Texas, resident who went through the ultimate sorrow of losing her 18-year-old son Steven in a car accident.

The first preparation: when the boy had been just seven, he also had come close to death. "I begged God to let him stay with me longer," she says. "Well, He did. I remember His answer to me at that time was, 'I will let him stay with you My daughter, but only for a short time longer."

Steven was prone to making unusual comments, such as telling an aunt just before he died, "We live, we die, and we serve, simple as that."

The short time longer ended up being until October 10, 2002, when the young man -- a senior in high school, and ready for college -- met his early demise.

The month before, Rose, a devout Catholic who knew how to listen to the Lord, experienced unexplained bouts of sorrow and depression -- a "raw pain" in her chest, "like I was dying." She called it a "premonition." We could also call it her second preparation.

And then there was the accident, in which Steven was thrown from his car.

How can anyone ever cope with something like that?

It's "impossible," but for the Presence of God -- Who brought Rose through with flying colors and as in so many cases, offered extraordinary consolation.

It came in the form of those dreams, which Rose, in a book called The Shattered Heart (available through her website), distinguishes from regular night-time visions by calling them "visitation dreams."

In the first, on June 30, 2003, Steven came to her as a child. "[In the dream] we were sitting in the living room as if waiting for someone to arrive," she writes in her touching book. "I remember my mom, dad, my sister Liz, my nephew Jimmy, and my brother Michael being in the room.

"He first went to my sister Liz and she hugged him and told him hello. The he progressed around the room, telling everyone hello and giving them a hug. He was close to my brother Michael. As he approached him, he handed him a wrapped gift. I don't recall what it contained."

When the boy got to Rose, he said, "Mom, I love you soooooo much!"

She said, "Steven, I love you forever and ever!"

And cryptically, her son responded, "Mom, guess what? I have two new best friends."

He said their names but Rose does not recall them. She asked when she could be with him, "for I didn't want to be here without him."

He replied, "Mom, I live far, far away now. You will see me again one day, I promise. I have to go now."

I have to go now. This is common in such experiences!

Rose woke elated, and had a second "visitation dream" in June of 2008.

"Before I write about my second visitation dream, I feel I must explain why this type of dream is different from a regular dream," writes this devoted mother. "In a regular dream, I would dream of Steven because I missed him so much. In these dreams, he doesn't speak to me. I can't touch him. It's just a regular dream.

"A visitation dream from a loved one is a dream in which you can actually touch them, talk to them, smell them, and observe what they are wearing. The loved one is actually visiting through the dream. It is a true, real visitation. You awake from a visitation dream knowing with all your soul that you were with your loved one."

In that second one, intriguingly enough, Rose encountered Steven after praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe to see him again. And intriguingly, the dream began with her sitting on a bench near what was kind of like a waiting station -- train depots of long ago.

"I looked around at surroundings," she says. "There wasn't any type of vegetation. It seemed almost to be another planet. There was no noise, only silence.

"As I looked to the horizon, I saw a figure appear. As it got closer, I realized it was Steven, my beloved son.

"He came running to me. We embraced. He had the biggest smile on his face. He looked radiant. As he approached me, I reached out and realized I could actually touch him. I remember we hugged and kissed each other. It seemed to go on and on. We laughed and just were so happy to see each other.

"I touched his hair. I remember his smell.

"Steven, are you alive or dead?" she asked.

"Mom, I am neither alive nor dead. Maria makes me this way so we can come and visit you."

The Blessed Mother also said, conveyed her son, that it was time for Rose to write a book -- which of course she has now done. Steven was wearing clothes she had never seen before. So many mysteries!

"He was so happy," she writes. "It's as if he glowed." Again, the dream stuck with her as a real event.

And so does God assist in "tragedies" -- or what He sees as progressions.

[resources: Rose's website and afterlife books]

[Also: St. Augustine, Fl. retreat, March 6: Michael Brown: the afterlife, the prophetic pulse]


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