Julie Kemp remembers being in the car and hearing her husband yell, but she doesn’t remember what he was yelling. In the blink of an eye, her husband Andy and 8-year-old son Landon were taken from her.
“That was the last thing I heard from him,” Julie said.
The Kemps had been driving home from church when an ambulance returning to its station smashed into their car at an intersection, killing her husband and son immediately.
Julie was injured, but once stabilized, she could see the rescuers work to try to help her husband and son. There was no bringing back Andy. And they did not realize Landon was in the car as well, at first.
Then they saw his shoe—and did a deeper search for his body. They had to pull the boy out from the back of the car, and he was no longer breathing. He was resuscitated and life-flighted to a hospital, where doctors reported grim projections.
The hours after were absolutely devastating.
“I was heartbroken,” Julie said.
Landon died again at the hospital, and was once again resuscitated. Then he died again, to everyone’s dismay, and was revived yet again, to everyone’s surprise.
Still, the doctors were wary. Landon was in a coma, hooked up to all sort of machines working around the clock to keep him alive, and that was perhaps the best they could now hope for.
They told Julie that if Landon were to wake, he may be completely brain damaged.
“They told me if he lived he would be like an 8-year-old baby. He would not know how to walk or talk or eat,” Julie said. “I would take that. I would take that just to have him, I was so desperate.”
She sat in the hospital, betrayal and hope battling in her mind. But she had just lost her beloved husband, and was not going to lose her son too.
“I’m praying as hard as I’ve ever prayed in my life for Landon to live,” she said.
But two weeks later, Landon opened his eyes, and gave everyone a shock.
He had no brain damage at all.
Julie was overjoyed at this news, but then another horrible thought hit her—now she would have to tell her little boy his father was gone.
It broke her heart to do it, but she asked, “Landon, do you know where Dad is at?” and prepared for the worst.
“And he says, ‘Yes, I know where he’s at. I saw him in heaven,'” Julie recalled.
Julie was completely dumbfounded, but Landon wasn’t done. He told her he also saw his father’s friend Owen Palmer, who had died in a car accident the month before, and another family friend who had passed away much longer ago.
Then he said, “I forgot to tell you, I saw your other two kids.”
Julie just stared back at Landon not knowing how to answer. She did have two miscarriages before she gave birth to Landon, but the 8-year-old was never told and would have no way of knowing this.
Now, years later, Landon still recalls the experiences and believes it actually happened. “We were just all standing here,” he said of the people he saw, and he just knew it was heaven. He says that each time he died, he went back to that place and saw a different scene, saw different people.
“I knew they were my siblings even though no one had ever told me about them,” he said.
“There is a heaven, there are angels,” Landon said. “Life does get better at the end.”
Julie believes her son. “It is a huge blessing,” she said. Difficult as the memories are, she is thankful to have them, because the story she shared has inspired many others. That gives her strength.
“I was able to use this story to help others not give up,” Julie said.