"I didn't see what he was yelling at. I didn't see the ambulance coming, but I remember him yelling. That was the last thing I heard from him," says Julie.
On a Sunday morning in 1997, Julie Kemp; her husband, Andy; and their 8-year-old son, Landon, were driving home from church when an ambulance returning to its station broadsided their car in an intersection. Andy died instantly. Rescuers stabilized Julie but did not initially realize there was a third passenger in the car.
Julie says, "They couldn't see his body because of the damage that was done to the driver's side of the car and Landon was sitting behind his dad. And when they saw Landon's shoe, it took a deeper search for his body. When they pulled Landon out from the back of the car, he was not breathing. And they all started working on him right away to bring him back."
Landon was resuscitated and life-flighted to Carolina's Medical Center. He died two more times that day, and both times, he was brought back to life. Doctors didn't give Julie much hope for his survival.
"They told me that if he lived, which did not look good, but that if he lived, that he would be like an 8-year-old baby, that he would not know how to walk or talk or to eat because of all the brain damage," says Julie. "I was so desperate that that was OK. I would take that just to have him. He was all that I had."
At her husband's funeral, Julie remembers feeling abandoned by God
She says, "I was very disappointed, heartbroken. And when I'm sitting at the funeral, I'm fussing at God. I don't understand why this happened. I don't understand why He didn't send angels to protect us. But in the very next breath, I'm praying as hard to Him as I've ever prayed in my life for Landon to live."
Landon had suffered massive head trauma during the accident and remained in a coma.
"He's hooked up to all kinds of machines to keep him alive," says Julie. "And there are no signs. There's nothing good or bad. They see nothing happening. I kept praying that he would open his eyes."
After two weeks in a coma, Landon opened his eyes. To everyone's amazement, he had no brain damage. But in the midst of her joy, Julie knew she had to tell Landon that his dad had died in the accident.
Julie remembers, "He had scars on his face. And his head was just full of hurt. And I didn't want to hurt him anymore. So I asked Landon, I said, 'Landon, do you know where your dad is at?' And he told me, 'Yes, I know where he's at. I saw him in heaven.'"
Years have passed since the accident, but Landon still clearly remembers his amazing experiences in heaven.
He says, "I remember being able to see my dad and his friend, Olan Palmer, who had passed away less than a month before he did, also in a car accident, and Olan's son, Neil Palmer, who had died on a four-wheeler years before. And it was funny because I remember us all like standing in a square. Never one of us said a word to each other, but we were just all standing there."
Julie says, "He looked over to me and he says, 'Oh, Mom, by the way, I forgot to tell you. I saw your other two kids.' And I just looked at him because I wasn't sure what he was talking about. But I had two miscarriages before Landon was born. And he saw them in heaven. We had never shared that with Landon. He did not know that we had lost two children before him."
Landon remembers, "I knew that they were my siblings even though no one had ever told me about them. Just being in heaven, I guess you know—you know your own or you know who everyone is."
He says each time he died he had a different experience in heaven. During the third time, he says he met Jesus and was given a mission.
He says, "It was almost as if like a preview of a movie to where you only get to see certain bits and pieces of things. Jesus came to me and told me that I have to go back to Earth and be a good Christian and tell others about Him."
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