About Love… and The Magic Power of Numbers _ 1.11.11
Most studies of childhood development conclude that the first years of life are crucial in the creation of our character. I was born into this world in 1949, with only one grandparent still alive. But my mother’s story of my Grandma Dreher’s death is something that seemed to resonate in my young developing mind. According to my mother, at the very moment my grandma Dreher took her last breath her dog Buck began to howl. He had always sat beside her chair and followed her wherever she went. My grandmother’s casket was at the house on McKinley Avenue where Buck laid beside her, often getting up on the kneeling rail to look at her. My mother’s description left no doubt that my grandmother’s dog was mourning the loss of his master.
As I look back now, I realize how the casual telling of that story played an important role in how easily I have accepted similar personal experiences throughout my own life. I see those early days in a child’s life as a time before the connection to spirit is broken by indoctrination. For me my grandmother’s dog is a perfect metaphor for the ability many of us lose, after our developing years. I believe our connection to spirit has a direct relationship to what we characterize as innocence in children. When a dog howls because its master had died, that is not coincidence! The dog knows exactly why it’s howling! I feel fortunate that I have personally retained that sixth sense ability throughout my adult life.
When people tell me metaphysical stories that may raise a few eyebrows here and there, I tend to lean toward giving them the benefit of the doubt if it seems at all plausible. What I’ve observed over the years is that most people, in private, will confess their own stories of the supernatural. Everyone has at least one. I have not completely escaped the indoctrination or the fear of judgment though. I continue to treat my own personal experiences with a tiny bit of skepticism in the beginning. But like a journalist with three sources, I have enough confidence to share them with others after the third source has been confirmed.
Before January 11, 1992, I never really paid that much attention to numbers. At that point in my life I knew very little about the concept of numerology. I had no interest in mathematics or understanding its importance to DNA, the blueprint of life itself. That was before I owned my first computer, so I was also ignorant of the mathematical principles that apply to computer technology as well as just about everything else that exists.
A friend in San Francisco had written to my partner Rob, about a celebration that would take place at The Pyramids in Egypt on January 11, 1992, or 1/11/92. As Rob explained it to me, if you add the last two digits 9 and 2 it also equals 11. The celebration was therefore called the 11/11. Well… my skeptical side immediately raised questions of how they had stretched the concept a bit too much in order to get that second number eleven!
Rob’s interest in the 11/11 event was directly related his lifelong fascination with numerology, which I had basically ignored up to that point. But I had been impressed when I returned to Washington, DC in 1981, after renting a Victorian house in San Francisco’s Castro district, where we would relocate a few weeks later. When I told Rob the address was 186 States Street, he immediately told me I had made the right choice because he had been born on July 5th, the 186th day of the year.
Rob was truly disappointed that we were unable to attend the celebration in Egypt. We were forced to return to San Francisco instead. When Rob made the reservations for a flight back to San Francisco from Berlin, the only date available was 1/11/92. We were booked on flight 111 Delta Airlines which left Berlin at 11:00 AM and the street addresses for both places we were to stay in San Francisco were 111 Beaver Street Apartment 1 and 111 Hancock Street, Apartment 1. When we finally made reservations to go back to Crete the following spring, Rob pointed out we had been in the states 11 weeks. Rob was positive that the number 11 had become a guide for us to follow in our travels. Once again my skepticism postponed my acceptance of his declaration, until the number eleven continued to appear over and over again in undeniable ways.
On our first day back in Athens, April 1, 1992, we checked into an empty hotel called “Pension Art Gallery” where the clerk gave us room number 11 because it was a quiet room at the back of the hotel. Later in the day we checked into a sauna to relax and get warm on that chilly spring day. Once again we were given room number 11. The next day we flew back to Crete on Olympic Airways which just happened to leave from gate 11. From Chania, we boarded the 11:00 AM bus for Sfakia. A quick check of Rob’s diary revealed that we had arrived in Loutro, Crete for the first time on September 11, the previous year. Rob quickly pointed out that both of our numerological birth numbers were number 8 and we had made our home in room number 8 at Pandelitza’s. So at Rob’s insistence, we incorporated the numbers 1, 11, 111, 1111 and 8 into our spiritual quest. He insisted these numbers were signposts that would appear when major events were about to occur in our lives. We would treat them as wake up calls to consciousness. There were still people who doubted the authenticity of our claims, accusing us of fixing the numbers. I quickly learned that it was virtually impossible to fix them. If I tried to reserve a seat number in row 11 on an airplane, it was already taken. If I tried to arrange for something to happen at exactly 11:11 or 1:11, it would alway turn out to be 11:12 or 1:12 instead. They only happened at random, and always when we least expected it. And they always announced some unanticipated important event.
In the beginning of this awareness I actually believed that the numbers 8 and 11 were exclusive to Rob and I. But over time I learned they were the two most important numbers in both numerology and many religious and spiritual traditions. In Chinese culture as well as other Asian cultures the number 8 is considered to be lucky. In Chinese languages the pronunciation of 8 sounds very similar to the words for prosperity. Living in San Francisco bears this out. Chinese Americans living in San Francisco seek out telephone numbers and addresses with as many 8s as possible. In other spiritual traditions the number 8 represents eternity or infinity. Like the ouroborus, the snake that devours itself, the eight has no beginning or end. But the thing that fascinated me the most was the fact that in ancient Tibet and India the symbol for eternity is a symbol that looks like an 8 laid on its side. This symbol also represents dualism or the relationship between the male and the female, which is also traditionally represented by the number 11!
In numerology the number 11 is referred to as a master number because it is two digits of the same number. What sets it aside from other master numbers is the fact that it is the master of the master numbers. So to serious students of numerology, 22 is really two elevens and 44 is really four elevens. But I really didn’t need to go searching for these historical referrences to understand these concepts. The experiences came first for me. It didn’t take long before I realized that waking up from an intense dream at exactly 5:55 AM was no different than waking up at 1:11 AM.
If I had to sum up the year 1992, I would call it the most transformational year of my life. If I were to take the 11/11 seriously, I would have to believe that the fact that the year started with a focus on the 11/11 had something to do with that transformation. But in reality, deep down in my heart, I know it is much more complex than that. The numbers are just the cover on the book, designed to get my attention, to persuade me to open up and look inside.
The year 1992 ended with the same kind of magic that ushered it in. We had left Loutro in late October to spend the winter with various friends we had met in Greece. Our first invitation was to visit our friend Colin in Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands. On the evening of November 11, (11/11) our friend invited us to meet him in the town square at exactly 11:11 PM. In Bergen op Zoom, the carnival season (Vastenavend) begins at exactly 11:11 PM on the 11th of November. Everyone meets under the statue of the goat where they announce the theme for the coming Vastenavend celebration. What a perfect ending to the year of the 11/11!
Neither Rob nor I believed it was coincidence that we were invited to Bergen op Zoom to end one journey and begin another.
In May of 1995, after Rob had accepted that the end of his life was rapidly approaching, he promised me that if anyone could communicate from the other side, it would be him! After two and one half years of dancing down the yellow brick road, paved with different variations of ones and elevens, I had no doubt. “Just follow our numbers,” Rob said with a serious smile. “There you will always find me!”
Letter To my sister Pat From Berlin nearly four months after Rob’s death in London:
“When Rob was sick in London I had one of the most undeniable connections with him. I awoke in my bed in San Francisco to the sound of Rob’s voice whispering with great force, ‘Bob!’ just the way he would do in our room in Loutro. The next morning he called me on the phone, in desperation. This is how I knew the connection had been real. He really had been calling to me for help in his mind. This was also the first time he was sure he would die.”
“I have been trying to allow myself to connect with Rob in a real way since the day he died. We agreed that if it were possible we could do it. Rob had an obsession with numerology. He believed that our lucky numbers were 8 and 111 or any combinations of the number 11. In one of my depressed states I begged him to give me a sign that he is with me. I walked into a supermarket and bought three apples to take to the park. The total for the apples came to DM1,11.”
Then later I sent a fax to Loutro to tell them I want to do a memorial next spring. Most of my faxes take 30 to 50 seconds. When the information sheet came out for the fax to Loutro it had taken exactly 1 minute 11 seconds.”
“Rob also did calculations for numerical values of dates. He and I and Adriano were all birth number 8’s. Today’s date is a base number of 1. At exactly 5:33 this morning I was awakened by Rob’s voice calling my name again. I had always thought he was crazy for doing all of those calculations. When I looked at the clock I found myself adding 5+3+3=11. I had accused Rob of deliberately making numbers come out to the total he wanted to make his point. Now I was beginning to be a believer. He would constantly wake me up in Loutro to tell me the clock was on 11:11 or 1:11. What had seemed to me like a bit a nonsense was now my very real link to Rob. This morning I felt Rob’s undeniable presence.”
“Immediately before hearing Rob’s voice I had been in a dream. I was in a huge field with elephants and primitive people who were very tall and thin. The elephants began to stampede, then suddenly I found that I could fly. I flew over millions of wildebeasts migrating. I landed on a cliff with a door into the mountain. I could hear Rob’s voice whispering my name. There was a man who passed me in a hallway who seemed to be running from someone. Another man came into the hallway looking for him. I told him he went through the doorway at the end of the hallway. Then I heard Rob’s voice again coming from behind a door to my left. I opened the door and he was standing there. He put his arms around me and held me while I cried. He told me it was OK for us to meet this way. I woke up crying and heard Rob whispering my name. It was 5:33am and I had a peaceful feeling that Rob was with me.”
A few days later I made the following entry in my journal:
From My Journal, September 28, 1995
“It was exactly one week ago today that I mentioned to Rob’s sister Lisa that something big always happens on Rob’s conception day, September 28, his parent’s wedding day. This morning I had forgotten about it as I prepared Lasagna for the evening meal. I wanted to have an original Italian dessert to go with the meal, so at around 4:00 PM I took the U-bahn (subway) to the Ka De We, a huge department store with a food emporium. I came up from the underground station at Wittenbergplatz to discover it was pouring down rain. I waited inside the station with about 100 other people who had also forgotten their umbrellas. As I stood waiting for the rain to end I had a chance to contemplate my time in Berlin and my planned trip to Austria. I was thinking of all the German friends I had seen or made contact with in my two month stay in Berlin. The only person I had not been able to find was Christian from Kiel. I was not sure where he had moved or if he was even aware of Rob’s death. I decided that when I returned to the apartment I would have Ulf call the number in Kiel to find Christian’s whereabouts. I felt this urgent need to contact him before I left Berlin.”
“As I was in deep thought the rain began to leak through the roof in the U-bahn station and started to drip onto my head. I walked to the other side of the station and stood at the top of the stairs leading up from the arriving trains. As I looked down the stairway I could see Christian walking up the stairs directly toward me. At first he did not recognize me with my new short haircut. Then I saw his face light up and the only thing I could think to say to him was, ‘Rob arranged this’! Christian had received the notice about Rob’s death. He was going to school and living in Berlin now. He was on his way to class so we exchanged telephone numbers and planned to meet the next day. The rain stopped and as I walked out to the large clock I noticed it was exactly 4:30 PM. I still had enough time to go shopping and finish preparing my meal. I turned around just in time to witness a beautiful double rainbow. Just then I remembered it was Rob’s conception day.”
“That evening during the Italian dinner I told the incredible story of meeting Christian in the U-bahn station. I excused myself from the table to go to my room to get Rob’s journal to share the entry from one year before. It was some time before I could regain my composure and read the passage from Rob’s journal to my friends waiting at the table.”
Rob’s Journal, September 28, 1994, Loutro, Crete:
“My conception day arrived with no apparent fanfare…then pm at the castle I met Christian from Kiel — seems like the one, a wonderful boy/man, beautiful in yoga, sunset dinner together.”
During our time in Loutro we lived in a world where the universe always provided everything we needed without effort. For example, when I needed a typewriter to type the short story collection I had written in the spring, a tourist from Vienna gave us a typewriter. When we were short on our rent payment a doctor from Germany sent us 400 Deutsch Marks in the post. So when Rob says Christian “seems like the one,” he means Christian is the next one sent for some specific purpose. What Rob had impressed upon me was that the numbers were always appeals to pay attention. It would have been possible for me to miss every one of them, as I believe many other people unfortunately do in their lives, through distraction. The numbers are the tool, not the message itself.
Typing my short stories on the typewriter from Vienna
Rob’s afternoon yoga classes began at 4:30 PM, exactly the same time I met Christian in the station at Wittenbergplatz one year later in a country of 80,000,000 people. This example of Rob’s contact with me was almost too much for me to absorb. On some level I was a little bit frightened by it. But that fear was tempered by the idea that Rob was still with me in undeniable ways!
(Now I need to pause for a moment to explain what’s happening through the process of writing this story. When the specific incident above occurred, I was still in deep shock from losing the love of my life. Rob’s death was the single most traumatic thing that would ever happen to me. So these other occurances paled in comparison to losing my Robby. In that context, I accepted each of them without the enormous contrast that exists between my current life and the stories I’m telling. So to be perfectly honest, the emotion of finding this entry in my journal last night was so overwhelming, I became sick and had to stop for the rest of the day!)
From My Journal, January 10, 1996:
“Last weekend I had a dream that I won the lottery. Rob came to me in the dream and told me that all the winning numbers added up to 8 or 11 or a base number of 1. I made a list of the numbers between 1 and 50 that fit this criteria. I called Rob’s sister Lisa in New Jersey to tell her of the dream. By today I had forgotten until 30 minutes before the deadline my sister Pat and I saw an ad on TV, for the televised drawing. I drove to the convenience store a few blocks away and quickly created three combinations of the numbers, then stopped for fear I would miss the deadline. I made it back in time to watch the drawing on TV with my sister. The first ball was 8. The second ball Iwas 47 which adds to 11. The third ball was 11. At this moment I stood up and screamed, ‘Rob don’t do this, you’re scaring me!’ Five of the six numbers were exactly as Rob had said in the dream. I didn’t have more than three of the numbers in the three combinations I had chosen. That was beside the point though. I had been given another demonstration of Rob’s numerology connection, and this time with a witness.”
(Note: I have been telling this story for the last 15 years. People who know me have taken it on faith that I was telling the truth. But last week I found the Lotto ticket in the attic, then last Thursday, January 6, my great nephew Benny went to the Fort Worth Public Library to obtain the notice of the winning numbers published on January 11, 1996 in the Fort Woth Star-Telegram! What’s really amazing as I examine the notice now, is that there were 11 tickets in Cash 5 that had all 5 numbers and 1,011 tickets had 4 of the numbers. Below that is the address for the Arlington office of the Star-Telegram: 1111 Abram.)
After six healing weeks in Thailand, I flew to Berlin where I spent a few days before my departure to Greece for Rob’s memorial. I found a cheap fare to Athens on Malev, Hungarian Airlines with a stopover in Budapest. When I boarded the plane in Berlin I knew that everything would be OK. My random seat assignment was seat number 11F. When I received my seat assignment in Budapest I was disappointed to get seat number 15C. I had just seated myself when the man beside me asked if I would mind if his wife a few rows ahead of us traded seats so they could sit together. His wife was seated in row # 11.
I spent a few days in Athens before catching the flight to Crete. I couldn’t walk anywhere without hearing Rob’s voice. Every place had very clear memories attached. Sometimes I would turn a corner in a place I thought I’d never been before, then suddenly find myself crying because I had arrived at a place where Rob and I had experienced something together. I sat down many times on the pavement in a dark corner because I could no longer find the strength to stand. I really didn’t know if I had the strength to face going back to Loutro alone, but then the number 8 or 11 would appear on a digital clock or a street address or a purchace receipt. I received more reassurance when my seat assignment on my flight to Crete was seat number 11A.
Loutro Crete, April 1996
As I traveled alone in the years following Rob’s death, I simply incorporated the numbers into my everyday life until they eventually became second nature.
On February 19, 1998, I had an appointment to meet with my dear friend George in San Francisco. It was really the first time we would actually sit down to talk at length about Rob’s death. I had taken the Muni underground to Van Ness Avenue where I caught a bus to California Street. My appointment with George was for 1:00 PM, and being the good German/American that I am, I pride myself on being prompt. After purchasing an Odwalla carrot juice at the nearby Whole Foods, I noticed the time on the receipt was 12:42 PM. I knew I would be late. But further examination of the receipt revealed something that had become very familiar in my life at that point. There were ones, eights and elevens laid out in very bold numbers that were hard to miss. As I walked the seven blocks to George’s apartment I contemplated this new sequence of my lucky numbers. Now I was beginning to think like Rob. It was impossible for me to ignore the fact that the total of the four digits in the $18.11 change equaled eleven. “Double luck,” I thought to myself. When I finally arrived at the door to George’s building I pulled out my digital watch to check my tardiness before calling to be buzzed in. The time was exactly 1:11 PM! By the time I left George’s apartment he had arranged for me to return to my beloved Loutro for the summer! Without him it would never have been possible! And without the receipt from Whole Foods, I would have been much more surprised.
So now I’m going to do something else unconventional. I’m going to put the beginning of this story at the end. In November, my friend Joyce gave me two tickets to a performance at the American Conservatory Theater. It wasn’t until I had finally found the row where I was to be seated that I realized I was holding a ticket with seat number 111! A closer examination of the ticket revealed a code with the numbers 11111. The performance was at 8:00 PM and the following day was November 11th!
Now, what possible conclusion could I draw as the next great 11/11 celebration loomed two months away on 1/11/11? As if a gentle reminder, my friends Gary and Mary and I went shopping at Trader Joe’s the Monday following Christmas. When the clerk handed me eleven cents change, I handed the change and receipt to Mary, telling her to hang on to them, they would bring good luck. We got in the car and drove a few blocks to a restaurant for breakfast. When we got out of the car Mary carefully examined the receipt from Trader Joe’s. Suddenly she screamed, “OH MY GOD!” She handed me the receipt, telling me to check the time!
The receipt had been printed at exactly 11:11 AM. Later, a few moments after Gary had returned to his truck to drive back to Vallejo, he called me from his cell phone. When he turned the ignition key, his digital clock on the dashboard read 1:11 PM!
So what choice do I have? This story needs to be told. And it was first posted on Tuesday, 1/11/11!