Ever since I was a baby, I love cuddly animals. This love has a tragic side. If I lost one, I could cry for hours, days, weeks! Inseparable, as with very best friends of flesh and blood.
As a baby and toddler, I had a plush bunny that, when I lost him, got replaced by the same one at least one time. Later on, (birthday) gifts included a jumbo, very beautiful, all-white plush cat and an orange plush lion. I remember walking down the street in Groningen where I lived from 1972-1976, with the plush cat in my arms, showing him to somebody who admired his beautiful, very soft coat. Even though the white cat was very lush, appealing and well-made, I never bonded with him like I have with some other plush toys, but I loved him alright. The orange plush lion had a round head with long manes. If I remember right, he had a white zipper bag in his belly. I have looked for a similar lion on the internet, but I can’t find it anywhere. This one resembles him just a little in color and feel:
Here’s the last photo of this stuffed lion’s mortal remainder before I disposed of him as a student, living in Utrecht on the Van Lieflandlaan 124. By then, he was in an extreme poor condition. My precious Orange-breasted waxbill – Dutch: “Goudbuikje” (“Goldbelly”) – is sitting on top of it:
Somehow, I regret disposing of this childhood lion, but still: there was really nothing much left of him.
And now, since May 30, 2014, I lost my dear, skeptical cuddly lion. I’m talking about Rob Nanninga. We met on the internet in 2005-2006. Since then, we emailed each other. I emailed him more than he me. He passed away on May 30, 2014, leaving me feeling shattered and lost.
Our contact was like the tides of the sea. He was always there and he was always on my mind. It was and is like a very sweet but painful spell. He has me enchanted and there is nothing I can do about it, or he, for that matter.
When I sometimes lost sight of my plush lion as a kid, I called for him (keep in mind, I was just a little kid): “Lion, where are you?” Lion used to be hiding under my bed, or in the corner of my bed, hiding under a pile of sheets or blankets. He never was lost, really, I always found him again. How adrift I felt without him. Like when I lost my plush bunny. Sometimes I even wrote small notes saying: “Where are you, Lion?” and left them on my bed, hoping Lion would see it and come back. He always did.
And now, I’m looking for Rob.
Devastated even before I officially knew
I already felt hollowed-out and adrift, before I got Jan Willem Nienhuys‘s e-mail that Rob was found dead at his computer on Friday morn May 30, 2014, age 58.1 The evening before, I was beside myself. I wanted to play a racing game (“Test Drive Unlimited“) and I was trying to adjust the racing wheel, but I didn’t succeed. Out of the blue I became very angry and got in a real destructive mood. I asked Jeroen for help, but a few seconds later angrily said: “Oh, never mind, I don’t want to play anymore anyways!” There was no explanation for my strange mood, I got extremely upset at everything I undertook.
That Friday morning, May 30, 2014, Jeroen and I had an appointment at the dentist’s in Sacramento, a forty-five minutes drive from home. On the way back, I had words with Jeroen about his driving. I asked if he could change lanes, but he angrily said that he was the one driving. The same feeling of the evening before like “I don’t care anymore” came over me. I felt extremely upset, not knowing why, even to that point that, evilly, I pulled the gear lever in its parking position, right on the (busy) highway. It’s like everything stopped in me, and therefore I had to stop the car too. In turn, Jeroen, who could steer the car safely to the emergency lane, was very upset with me.
In spite of this, we returned home safely, though we had a big fallout over this stopping in the middle of the highway. I walked up to my computer like being pulled to it, and read the announcement of Rob’s death immediately. My friend Jan Willem Nienhuys had notified me. It was like a cold hand grabbed hold of my heart. For me this was a sledgehammer blow like I had never experienced before. I locked myself in the bathroom, crying. I still cry very often about Rob, though I do it when nobody is watching. Jeroen left home angry, almost immediately after he dropped me off, even though I told him what I had just learned: that Rob had deceased and I thought this was the reason of my erratic behavior of pulling the gear lever. I told Jeroen I must have felt it since that Thursday, and I reminded him of my dark mood the previous evening.
I realized why I had been so extremely upset since Thursday evening. It was about the time Rob died respectively was found deceased. There’s a time difference between the Netherlands and California of nine hours. I remember I was very upset around 7.30–8.30 PM on Thursday May 29. And that Friday morning the dark mood continued.
To me personally, this is proof that Rob and I are connected in inexplicable ways. I can’t prove it to my readers right now, as I’m not claiming science here (I wish I could), but I think I felt that Rob had left the earthly plane.
Getting more desperate about this each and every day, I started looking for Rob during my out-of-body experiences.2
Looking for Rob after he passed away
I have been looking for Rob since he “disappeared”. I was badly shaken up since May 29 and May 30, 2014, and left for South Lake Tahoe on June 5, 2014 on my own. I drove up there and stayed a couple of days in a hotel and I checked out on June 7, 2014. I had to process this, but found out, I really couldn’t. Not by a long shot. Since that week, I felt Rob. But he didn’t show himself, the contact was always sideways, one way or the other.
Because he was the skeptic par excellence, always saying it didn’t exist: there being no such thing as an afterlife, no such thing as spirits wandering about (though one day, he joked to me about “Walk Ins”)3, out-of body experiences like in: really being out of the body, the benchmark had been set exceptionally high. I’m very hard on myself now, but also him, because he was the one, persevering it was not possible. So if I was to believe the earthly Rob, he isn’t there anymore. My skeptic Lion would be lost forever!
The reason that I come up with this anyway, is that I’m still trying to deal with this. I believe Rob is my soul mate, like two trees united at the bottom of the stem. I sent Rob this photo I made in Yosemite National Park on Sunday, June 3, 2012:
I wrote the accompanying text as follows:
I came across this tree, which consisted of two main parts, and I immediately thought: that’s Rob and me.
You and me for the past seven years, and what will the future hold?
And in such a way I (sometimes) emailed him, and he remained silent about it, never encouraging me, but never stopping me either. Jeroen knew and knows Rob was and is important to me, because I told him. Jeroen is important to me too, I married him for the right reason: true love.
Since Rob passed away, my out-of-body experiences have returned in a very vivid and frequent manner, as in the heyday (that would be 1995-2002 when my out-of-body experiences were most abundant). Somehow, I had gotten slightly saturated with over a thousand OBEs (on average 35-50 every year). Yes, they still occurred, but not as frequent and intense as in the peak years. Now, it’s heyday again. A lot of those out-of-body and related experiences involve Rob.4
I have been looking desperately for Rob, while out of body. I have called his name out loud, in weird, off-places where I would ask myself: “Why, in Heaven’s name, would Rob be here? This is sheer randomness.” I have called him numerous times during several out-of-body experiences. Roaming around, trying to catch a glimpse of him in the (spirit) crowd, not finding him.
Though there were some out-of-body experiences where I had the feeling I met him, he possibly chose another appearance, to make it easier on him and me. And though I communicated telepathically with him, he would not show himself.
He still seems to be the shy and humble person he always was. And now he knew what he had meant to me all all those years, how deeply I had been involved, and still am, a “blunt” astral contact would be noticeably charged with all kinds of intense feelings.
Maybe if skeptical people read this, they think I’m crazy and (day) dreaming, and always have been. But I don’t think they can be the judge of that. I have to express this, because my heart’s in real pain because of Rob’s passing and I’m tearing up inside.
I never had the chance to meet him on Earth, and I now regret that I was not more moving forthright in trying to establish a first and hopefully continued physical acquaintance. I knew what Rob looked like, and I had even seen him during out-of-body experiences while he was still on Earth. To me, this was enough, for the time being. But I thought of him almost all the time. I did invite him over to the United States, after consulting with Jeroen, and sending Jan Willem Nienhuys a copy of this invitation. I figured Rob, while visiting me, could do some skeptical research and fieldwork on site for the Dutch Skepter magazine as well, and I wanted to pass the idea on to friend and co-editor Jan Willem Nienhuys. But Rob would not have it, though he seemed genuinely surprised that Jeroen had agreed to the idea. In an email to me Rob complained about my being so demanding.
The other end of the universe
I mailed Rob on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, that I could see him with my eyes closed, even when he was at the other end of the Universe. Though this is a very personal email, I will copy-paste it in this blog: (and after this email I sent out another one, correcting a verb error, Dutch readers can see which one)
I haven’t made myself totally clear yet, and presumably I can’t anyway, but this much I can say:
Honestly, I hope that if you will come to the US, indeed something will happen between us. I have no idea how this should work out between three people. It’s like I said: I don’t understand any of this at all.
I would also like to say that I think you’re very sweet, I see you, Rob, your energy, and who you really are. If I have to give a reason, this is it: you’re so sweet and sensitive that I am drawn to you like a magnet. You may be doing so grumpy or like to think you are, I see you. I see through all your layers, whatever you write or do. Just because I can see you, I saw it in the video clip of Rasti Rostelli,5 and those sparse pictures of you, and I see you in my OBEs and dreams, in your e-mails in which you showed your true side, in your music.
If I have to, I can see you with my eyes closed, even if you are at the other end of the universe.
I have no clue to what Rob was thinking, reading my almost lyrical expressions, but I just couldn’t withhold myself. This thing with Rob was and always has been stronger than me. Jokingly, I even called myself the “Rob-whisperer” one time, teasing him with this, when he once again was not answering my e-mails very much. I had changed my Twitter profile text, mentioning I was the “Rob Whisperer”, and God did I not know how appropriate this would become fifteen months after my teasing email to Rob about it.
Have you seen my new Twitter profile text? I thought of a good name for our “relationship” (since you don’t speak to me anymore)
so yes, the Rob I mention on Twitter, that’s you! : – *
Have a nice night,
And now he is there, at the other end of the universe.
In the early morning of September 30, 2014, I was looking for him again during an OBE. The evening before, I said to Rob in my mind: “Rob, if it that difficult for you to show yourself, please come in a way you can bear, but do come.”
I had two out-of-body experiences this early morning. I had extended my search method: I now called his name, but did more than call him. I spoke to people (spirits), giving them his full name: “Do you know Rob Nanninga?” “Have you seen Rob Nanninga?” “If you do, would you please tell him, I’m looking for him?” And I had found another method: I was writing his name on small pieces of paper, handing them out to people (spirits).
Again, I realize very well, skeptics will raise their eyebrows, and maybe, not wanting to appear too mean or grim, will say, I’m dreaming, for sure. But I don’t see valid evidence that people can’t go out of their bodies or move away from a physical point of view/experience. While being a skeptic myself, I still believe and think out-of-body experiences are to be taken very seriously. Maybe few people will give this a second thought.
So, there I was, having a second out-of-body experience, after having heard the famous buzzing sound before going out of body.6 I was writing his name on a piece of paper at a counter, planning to give it to the spirit guy behind it. The out-of-body experience was much more elaborate than this, but I’m summarizing the main event.
Suddenly, I felt his strong arms hugging me from behind me and Rob’s (astral) body pressing against mine in a bear hug. Taller than me, with his head bend downwards, he was crying intensely with jolts while embracing me. An immense relief came over me, an immense happiness. I just knew it was him, this is like instant knowledge you have during OBEs.
I found him. Or rather: he found me! For whatever reason he had come, finally. I suspect he couldn’t bear my fruitless cries for him any longer. A huge burden fell off me, because now, my desolate quest was over. I stood very still; a very experienced astral traveler, I know hectic movements can disturb an out-of-body experience, and I certainly didn’t want to disturb this one. But I reached backwards with my arm for him and pressed his arm, to at least respond in some way, other than by being blissfully happy. (Which he certainly felt).
Then this OBE was over and I returned to my body, and still felt he was holding me for about or minute or so, a very clear felt embrace, in my physical body as well. My sweet lion, I found him, he found me! Then, emotions got the best of me, again.
I was so happy and still am, because of this fortunate turn of events.
But I still have this huge problem. I still miss Rob, him always being there (for me). Even at times when he didn’t answer me, I knew he was there, reading me, knowing he was sitting behind his computer screen or looking at his iPad, just like me. He was and is an extremely gentle and wise person, but as strong as he is gentle.
This is not over, in fact, it may be just beginning.7 I wonder what my life has in store for me now; my soul mate has gone. How can I live a life without him, when he is no longer physically present? Can I? I’m not sure. I want to meet him again, face to face, astral-physical, since this is now the only way.
It’s “Lion, where are you?” all over again.
Besame mucho – Jeroen and I were in San Diego recently, and I videotaped this in Old Town, San Diego
Update the morning after first publishing this blog, October 16, 2014: This early morning too, I had an astral experience with Rob in it.
My mother, Thérèse, who passed away this year as well (on July 8, 2014) was there and so was Rob.
In the second part of this astral experience, I was alone with Rob extensively. He still doesn’t show himself clearly, but he was there, loving me. It was very beautiful. Before meeting him like this, in my mind’s eye, I saw various silhouettes of majestic lions.
Update November 1, 2014: Regarding my out-of-body experiences: I’m at an all time high, I’ve never been so often out of body (and, compared to other people, I already was such a conscious and frequent astral traveler).
I won’t start counting this year yet, but the last weeks, I have been traveling out of body almost every day, and even to me this is unprecedented. These OBEs all (or: almost all) involve looking for or meeting Rob. He has released high potency OBE power in me. To me, he apparently is the ultimate reason to (want to) travel out of my body.
Maybe I’ll tell more about this later.8
I have two new cuddly lions, it’s a true Love Story.
 According to Jolanda Hennekam, Rob’s girlfriend, in an email to Constantia on 5/29/2015 2:44 PM, Rob passed away on Dutch Feast of the Ascension, “Hemelvaartsdag“, May, 29, 2014, at about half past ten in the evening, and was found by his mother, the next morning, as he sat at his computer. Read more about this and Rob Nanninga in general here.
 I have regular out-of body and related experiences since my eighteenth year and I wrote (Dutch) books about it. See my four books on my nightly astral journeys: http://constantiaoomen.com/published_books. Note that my author’s name has been “Sten Oomen” for my first three books; “Sten” being my Dutch nickname.
And here‘s the web page Rob was referring to.
 In Lion Hearts Part III en IV, you can take a closer look at my OBE graphs. In Lion hearts Part IV, you can find the most updated version.
 From Wikipedia: In 1994, Nanninga wrote an exposé about hypnotist Rasti Rostelli –who amongst other things claimed to master telekinesis–, and during a 2001 episode of the television show Het zwarte schaap (“The Black Sheep”), Nanninga demonstrated that Rostelli was actually using well-known (and sometimes dangerous) magic tricks without openly admitting to it, thus misleading his audience. On behalf of Skepsis, Nanninga offered him 10,000 guilders to prove without tricks he had paranormal powers, but Rostelli refused. Article Rob Nanninga wrote about Rasti Rostelli and the video clip of Rob and Rasti I was referring to.
 One of the main characteristics of out-of-body experiences is hearing a buzzing or humming sound just before the sensation of going out of body. The sound can be heard while returning from and out-of-body experiecne too. Many astral travelers (like myself) experience and hence describe it often and in detail. In my own, elaborate experiences, this sound often resembles that of the swelling sound of an approaching and passing train whereby the frequency of the sound increases and/or intensifies as the OBE approaches.
 Revising this blog on February 6, 2017, hence almost two and a half years later, I can tell this foresight was correct, as the reader can conclude for himself reading Part III and IV (and what comes next) of Lion Hearts. The astral events of Fall 2014 marked “only” the beginning of something unprecedented.