Pearl Harbor and My Son’s Past Life


My daughter is easy for me to understand.  She is open, affectionate, and easy to redirect.  Of course at 22 months, this is all subject to change, but I think these qualities are just part of her sweet nature.

My son, on the other hand, is a mystery to me.  He gets his feet stuck in the cement of little, everyday issues so I feel I am in a near constant tug-of-war with him.  He is highly sensitive; we never know what will set him off.  He is also freakishly verbal, creative, and intelligent.

Despite his intensity, he is very lovable.  I find myself constantly amazed at how he can make friends anywhere he goes.  I am in a constant state of hypervigilance and confusion when I am with him- caught between the insane love only a mother can know, walking on eggshells to avoid his tantrums, and mystified at some of the deep thoughts he produces.

When Jack was a little over two, he started talking about Japan.  We never had occasion to expose him to much Japanese culture at that point, so it fascinated us.  Daily, he made statements about Japan, about a dusty old house where he swept a dirt floor, about his garden, about people he knew and things he would do.

A lot of it escapes me now.  I wish I had paid more attention, written more down.  I do remember one time when he was talking about being an old, old man in Japan.  “That was before you and Daddy were born, Mama,” he added.

Sometimes he would use his past in Japan as an excuse.  “Oh, broccoli? I don’t like broccoli.  I tried it once in Japan.”

One time, we passed a monument in a park that was shaped like a pagoda.  Jack pointed to it from his car seat.  “Do you see that?” he asked.  “That is what my house looked like in Japan!”

For me, the jury is still out on past lives and all of that mystical hocus pocus.  I’m not saying it isn’t possible, I just don’t know about it or believe in it.  But little Jack spoke of Japan with such innocent conviction it was startling and made it all seem possible.

He went on about Japan until he turned four, and then his past life regressions, if that is indeed what they were, became less and less.  By five, he hardly mentioned Japan at all anymore.

I heard somewhere that kids reference past lives up until about this time, and then the veil between the two worlds gets thicker, whatever that means.

People used to tell us we should take him for a past life session with a psychic, but this seemed far fetched, and the idea of sitting a little boy down to learn about another life seemed macabre.

I happened to be out with Jack the other day, and we found ourselves in a new age shop.  We smelled candles, admired Buddhas, and touched crystals.  Jack found a little turtle pin, which I brought to the counter to buy for him.

On a whim, I asked the lady at the counter if she did past life regressions.  She said she did.  I started to explain to her that Jack used to talk about Japan all the time.

“That’s because he was in Pearl  Harbor,” she stated before I finished.  “I saw it in him as he walked past.”

She went on to tell me that my child was an American soldier in the battle of Pearl Harbor.  He perished there, but not before saving about 16 other people.  “He kept diving into the water to save people,” she said.  “He was a hero.  He might have some kind of an aversion to water?”

“Yes!” I gasped.  “He only just learned to swim!  He is not buoyant at all!  He sinks like a stone in the water.”  She shook her head serenely.  She must have that kind of reaction from people all the time.

Jack was bored, waiting out in the entry-way of the shop.

“He’s a warrior.” She said.  “And at some point, he will start seeing spirits.  They may present as imaginary friends.”  Jack came back into the shop, grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the door.  I said good bye to the psychic and we made our way to our car.

Driving home, I felt queazy.  Hearing how your son “perished” in his past life is a disturbing conundrum.  I didn’t say anything about it to Jack.

By the time I shared the story with my husband, I had chillaxed enough to conclude this psychic lady probably just had an active imagination.  I mean, I can watch people walk past me and come up with stories about them all day long, and I suppose if you do it long enough, you gain a strong conviction in your stories.  I have no doubt her intentions were pure, and she believed what she told me heart and soul.

In another way, hearing about my son’s “warrior” nature brought me comfort.  I’ve always said he came back into this life with a vengeance.  Not that he is a vengeful soul, but just that he had unfinished business and a lot of life to live with every cell in his being. Hearing this is just his nature was validating.   It took away some of the constant blame and guilt that I place on myself for being a crappy mom who made a mad kid because I had him circumcised or tried to make him cry it out when he was a baby.

The encounter with Madame Mystic also made me realize how people can fall in love with psychics and become dependent on them.  We all crave answers for one quandary or another.  Whether it is if we will ever find true love or win the lottery or hear the voice of our dearly departed, we all want an answer for something. I would love to know what makes my kid tick.  Having a woman take one glance at my son and weave this incredible story was enticing as all hell.   Could this explain my fear that Jack will grow up and join the military?  Could this be why I am enchanted by all things Hawaiian?

I think not.

Regardless of where Jack was in his past life, he is my boy in this life.  Somedays I struggle to understand him, and other days I accept that this is just the mystery involved in being a mom.


16 responses »

  1. I just found your blog and when reading your stories I hear stories and struggles and fears that are often my own. What a beautiful story and reminder that we all come with baggage-even our tiny selves it seems! It is up to us to help them carry it and find someone to help us carry ours.

  2. My niece spoke of her past life until she turned 4, too. It is common. I’m glad Jack has an open minded mama. We all carry issues and trauma from our past lives with us. But what’s important is this current one we are in, more than any other past ones. 🙂

  3. So, he was both an old man in Japan and an American soldier in Japan during Pearl Harbor? While I’m not doubting it (okay, maybe just a little) I would take Jack’s innocent childhood projections more as ‘fact’ than Madame Mystic…though both could be true and I’m fascinated with past life stuff myself. I wonder about that unfinished business piece, like, what will he be getting in this life as way of lessons and learning that he didn’t in his other lives (if they existed?). Perhaps the being in a fast paced world that moves more quickly than a quiet contemplative soul would like? How can we help our children learn the lessons in this life even if they are leftover lessons needing to be learned from past lives? And how do we, in this life, deal with our children when we probably bring so much baggage from years before?

    I loved this piece, made me really think this morning!

    • You make a good point, and I agree with you. It was surprising to me, though, how strongly and viscerally I reacted when she was telling me this stuff though. Pretty uncharacteristic for me, who tends to be fairly skeptical. . . Glad I made you think!

      • Yeah, I really think there’s something very TRUE when our reactions are so visceral. If past lives are real, he could very well have been both…especially if there was unfinished Japanese business (going back as an American in dealing with Japanese). Super fascinating stuff.

        Now I want Potamus to start talking already…what tales could he tell me of time gone by?!

  4. Fantastic post. For years I was ambivalent about and uninterested in reincarnation, feeling like I was on the fence between being open-minded and skeptical. Then one day in 2005, a past life memory rose up, full-force, as I was struggling to understand and resolve an issue that had inexplicably plagued me for many years. (I frequently felt trapped psychologically.) Since then, I’ve had 2 other memories. Each are as clear as any memory from this lifetime.

    I like your bottom line – what matters is what you and your son have and are now. I don’t see a need to proactively remember past life experiences, or even figure out if reincarnation is real; what matters is being open to what serves us now. If something helps you understand your son more, and feel better about parenting him, that’s great. If remembering helps him sometime in the future, then that will be good.

    Thanks for sharing this – it was a pleasure to read.

    • Thanks Kelly! It is so kind of you to share your thoughts. . . part of this particular experience for me was about how appealing it can be to have answers that weren’t necessarily created in this lifetime, and the realization of that. I’d never experienced or had any contact with a psychic before so I’ve always been quite skeptical (and still am, I must admit), so it was interesting that I reacted in a way that was completely out of character for me. Hope you are doing well. Hugs!

  5. Wow! This is the first time I have read of such an experience in the west though not the first I have heard of it in the east. My mother recounted something similar about her younger sister. I applaud your openness and sensitivity, My child is verbally delayed and was an introverted baby so I have to read his moods and body language. I sometimes sense a fear in him carried over from another lifetime, but he is blossoming now and I feel that I knew him in another lifetime.

    • Wow, that is intense! Where are you from? Like I said in the post, my son is sometimes like a stranger to me, but my daughter is my pea in the pod. I feel that I’ve known her before. . . it is such a powerful connection. I wonder if karma sent our sons back to us to fix something that went awry with our relationships with them in the past? xo.

  6. This was such a good post. I always have this sense of withdrawal from events and have been trying to uncover a memory, probably traumatic, to reach some understanding. I can’t explain it but I never considered a past life because I am Catholic… Hmmm. I could sit up and read your posts all night long but it’s 1 am and sadly I must go to sleep. Thank you for sharing this.

    • What amazingly kind words- thank you! I know that Catholics don’t believe in reincarnation, but sometimes there is so much evidence that it makes you wonder. . . I hope you got a good sleep!

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