Article by Cathy Byrd, as told to Maria Carter at Country Living. Published in SOTT on April 23, 2017.
As a Christian, I didn’t believe in reincarnation. But I couldn’t ignore my child.
Christian Byrd, Lou Gehrig in a past-life – © Cathy Byrd
Kids say some peculiar things and, as parents, we usually don’t give it much thought. I was the same in this regard until my 2-year-old son’s bizarre statements on a trip to Boston’s Fenway Park clued me in on the bigger picture. This particular incident stands out in my mind because of my son’s visceral, emotional reaction — it was beyond the typical toddler tantrum. On the way to our seats to watch the Red Sox take on the Yankees, Christian stopped dead in his tracks in front of a photo of Babe Ruth, yelling, “I do not like him. He was mean to me!” He was so upset we had to leave the stadium.
Back home in Los Angeles, Christian began saying things like, “when I was tall like Daddy, I was a baseball player.” He told me that he used to stay in hotels every night, to which I jokingly replied, “Did you fly on airplanes?” “No, mostly trains,” he said. Despite the fact that neither my husband or myself had any interest in America’s favorite pastime, Christian had been obsessed with baseball since the time he could walk. He wore a baseball jersey and cleats everywhere he went and carried a little wooden bat with him at all times. He was constantly asking us to pitch balls to him so he could practice hitting, to the point where it became exhausting. In between hitting, he would rub his bat with one of our dog’s chew bones.
The year Christian turned 3, his recollections of being a baseball player in the “olden days” became more vivid and he continued to insist that “Babe Ruth was not a nice man.” I kept notes of the strange things he’d say, Googling them later. His older sister, Charlotte, and I would listen intently as he shared stories with us before falling asleep at night. He told us of times when the Dodgers played in New York and said his games took place during the day because there were no lights on the field. I found out that baseball teams used to keep cow femurs in the dugout for “bone rubbing,” a technique for hardening and preserving bats. I was stunned when each thing he told us proved to be historically accurate. At the advice of Carol Bowman, a therapist who specializes in children’s past-life memories, I showed Christian photos of baseball players from Babe Ruth’s time. Much to my surprise he pointed to a man with dimples in a photograph of the 1927 Yankees and said, “That’s me!” I later discovered that the man he had pointed to was Lou Gehrig. I also learned about a well-documented feud between Gehrig and Ruth that led the former friends not to speak to each other for seven years. When I showed Christian a photo of Lou Gehrig’s parents he was able to identify their names and pointed to the mother and said, “You were her.” This was odd to say the least.
Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, circa 1932
Still, my religious beliefs stood in the way of me even considering reincarnation as a possibility.
I had too much guilt around the concept. My investigation into Christian’s stories set me on a journey of delving into the history of religion and the Bible specifically. I found there were scriptures addressing “pre-existence” and “rebirth” had been removed from Bible during Constantine the Great’s era, around 325 A.D. When I read about how, at one point, it had been a crime punishable by death to even speak of reincarnation, I thought, Wow, this could be where my guilt comes from. It was a forbidden topic in my mind up until this realization.
At church, I felt like a bit of an imposter, like I was sinning by listening to and validating my son. I felt at odds with the whole situation but as more and more things confirmed that it was real and there was something to it, I finally accepted that I could be a Christian and still entertain the idea of reincarnation. None of us knows with 100 percent certainty what happens when we die, until we die — not a priest, not a rabbi, not a scientist. We get these glimpses and clues along the way that contribute to our beliefs.
Reunited in time: Christian Byrd/Lou Gehrig with his mother – © Cathy Byrd
My research led me to the work of Jim B. Tucker, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and author of Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives. Eventually we met with Dr. Tucker in person, and it was during this meeting that Christian said for the first time that he had chosen me to be his mother before he was born. Dr. Tucker asked him where he was when he chose me and Christian said, “In the sky.” What I found even more shocking than Christian’s revelation was Dr. Tucker telling me that many of the children he has studied who recall past lives also recall choosing their parents. The University of Virginia School of Medicine has over 2,500 documented cases of children from all over the world who recall past lives.
A few days after Dr. Tucker’s visit I decided to do a past-life regression. Originally, I didn’t tell anyone about it, not even my own husband, because I thought it was so strange. During the three-hour hypnosis session, I spoke in the first person as Lou Gehrig’s mother Christina describing scenes from her life that turned out to be historically accurate. I described specific pieces of jewelry and said under hypnosis that I wanted to give the jewelry to a particular family after I died. Later, I was able to find the family through documents from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. When I contacted them, they confirmed that they had inherited the jewelry I had described and only their closest family friends had knowledge of it. The jewelry had been locked up in a safe buried under their home for 60 years because they couldn’t afford to insure it at the time that Christina Gehrig bequeathed it to them. These were details that I could have never known and provided proof to me that what Christian and I were experiencing was real.
Sharing our story has strained several personal relationships along the way. Having our pastor insinuate that Christian was possessed by the spirit of a dead person made my stomach turn. One of my closest friends took issue with it on a purely religious basis. She was worried about me being on the wrong side of God. She was concerned for my soul. Another was flippant, saying Christian could have learned what he was saying anywhere. But I know my son: He had no interest in watching TV until he was older than 3 and he was only at preschool two days a week. He didn’t have babysitters besides my mother and she and Christian’s preschool teacher confirmed that he hadn’t learned anything about baseball or Lou Gehrig under their watch. When friends question you, it makes you question yourself. But as a mother, instinctually you know.
In the past two weeks since the release of my new book The Boy Who Knew Too Much, I’ve had many parents reach out to me with their own remarkable experiences of hearing their children’s past-life accounts. That makes me think that even though we don’t hear about it every day, children have probably been sharing these stories since the beginning of time. It becomes verbal folklore because it’s not something people will always document. As parents we want it to go away, and once it does we brush it under the carpet and forget about it.
We’ll never know for sure if reincarnation is real, but the evidence that came through to me is undeniable proof that our souls survive this earthly existence and that love can surpass one lifetime. My message is one of unity: If we can begin to see each other as souls within a body, rather than these bodies that we inhabit, we can then begin to see how alike we all are.