When Jacie was 4 years old, she would sit inside her room and talk to her dad—at least, from her perspective.
Lisa O’Brien, Jacie’s mom, would walk in the room and find her daughter all by herself, talking to thin air.
“I’d say Jacie, ‘Who are you talking to?'” O’Brien said. And Jacie would reply, “My dad. I’m talking to Daddy.”
At first, O’Brien didn’t understand. Jacie’s father had recently died in the 9/11 attacks when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. O’Brien could only assume this was her young daughter’s way of coping, and tried to better understand her.
“And what’s going on?” O’Brien probed.
“Daddy and Tommy McCale,” Jacie answered. O’Brien was surprised—that was the name of “one of the boys,” one of the people her late husband had worked with. Jacie continued: “Uncle Steve, Eddie Shunk…”
The thing was, Jacie had never met any of his co-workers. She didn’t know any of these people.
O’Brien went and retrieved a photograph of her late husband with his coworkers, and Jacie identified every one of them.
“They’d be telling me ‘knock knock’ jokes,” said Jacie years later. She still remembers the conversations vividly, and believes they really happened.
After Jacie’s explanation, O’Brien believed her. She was in awe, and actually also envious, “because she got to see them and I didn’t.”