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ARAB, AL (WAFF) -
A 7-year-old lost five of her family members in a tornado and she wrote a book about it. The author described seeing her family enter Heaven.
"It's called "To Heaven: After the Storm," Ari Hallmark, author.
In it, she recounts the April 27th, 2011 tornado that leveled her grandparents' home in Marshall County, claiming the lives of her parents, her paternal grandparents, and her cousin, Jayden Hallmark.
It was within the tornado Ari describes seeing a staircase to heaven. But she said she also saw a tall woman with long wavy blonde hair.
"Oh, my angel," said Ari.
At the top of the steps, she describes seeing two huge doors.
"They were really tall and had diamond handles," she said.
She said when the doors opened she saw family members who had already passed away. Then she saw someone holding her little cousin Jayden.
"Who was holding Jayden? Jesus," said Ari.
At that point, she said the angel took her back down. She said she remembers waking up in a field near her grandparents' home.
"I was just laying there crying for Mommy and Daddy, not knowing what to do," she said.
A family friend, Dr. Lisa Reburn, who works at the University of North Alabama and works with grieving children, became Ari's mentor.
Reburn described Ari's story as "having so much detail and was so articulate."
Reburn knew what she was hearing was a treasure. She specializes in setting up curriculums. Ari described the caskets for her family members as "treasure boxes."
Reburn filled two boxes with keepsakes from Ari's father and mother; things like her dad's wallet and glasses and pictures from her mother.
One thing Reburn and Kim Hunt, one of Ari's teachers, quickly realized is this could help countless children and adults across the country.
That is why the book was born. It's filled with Ari's artwork, along with her words and photographs.
Both Ari and Reburn feel the book can help countless children and others understand what lies beyond.
"If you lose somebody close to you, which we all do, to know they went immediately to a whole wonderful place, how can it do anything but give you hope?" asked Reburn.
Close to 650 copies of the book have been sold. All the proceeds will go toward a resource guide for those who want to help children deal with death.
If you wish to pre-order a copy of the book you can call Jones Pharmacy in Arab at (256) 586-3179 or contact Heavenbound Christian Bookstore at (256) 931-2053.