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Eight

9 Sep

The number eight has been rolling around in my brain for the past few days.  I assumed it was because we will soon be marking the eighth anniversary of my daughter’s death.

However, it dawned on me yesterday that there was more to it than that.  I realized that September 12th would have been her 28th birthday and eight days after her birthday is the 20th – the day she died – eight years ago.

As all of those realities sank in, I began to see the number eight in my mind’s eye.  And I began to pay attention.

Notice that once you put your pen on paper you can make an eight in one fluid motion and you have two circles that intersect one on top of the other.  This is a metaphor for the relationship that Liz and I continue to share.

Our lives will always intersect.  She will always play a part in my life and I will always play a part in hers.  Each circle represents one of us.  The top circle represents Liz because she is now on a higher plain than I am.  Her energy vibrates at a much higher level than mine does.  She has moved on to a higher plain of existence or heaven, so she is the top circle – I continue my work here on earth so I represent the bottom circle – we are in different worlds – but yet still solidly connected.

Look again at the eight — it is like a path that can be followed.  You may start out at the top and work your way down (to earth) and then continue to go back up — Liz did that.  Or you can start at the top and continue down and follow the same road as long as you need to and then you switch lanes and move up — but whatever your path you always remain connected.

Whenever September rolls around I try to make sense of things — but most of the time there is no sense to be made — it just is.  Choices were made and consequences followed — for both of us.  But what gives me comfort and solace today is the gentle nudge that I believe Liz is giving me to remember that just like the number eight our lives will always be intersecting with each other.  And one day, when my job here is complete I will move to that top circle and we will truly be together – two balls of love-filled energy.

That knowing makes me smile and it is what will make the days of September just a little bit easier to bear.

Thank you Liz — once again — you never cease to amaze me!

Love,

Mom

PS – I just realized – today is the 9th – I should have paid more attention and made this post yesterday! Oh well.

 

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Wake Me Up When September Ends?

12 Aug

In a few short days,  the month of September will be upon us.  As I type these words, I can physically feel my stomach flip-flopping and a knot beginning to form.  What’s wrong with September you ask?  Technically … nothing  … I do enjoy the last days of summer and the soon-to-be fall weather.

But my oldest daughter’s birthday and the day she died are both in the month of September.  September brings up so many memories … both the good and the painful.

On September 12th my Elizabeth would be 28 years old.  What would she be doing with her life, I so often wonder.  Where would she be living, what career would she have chosen?  Would she be married?  Would she have any children?  Would she have dealt with the demons that plagued her in the last years of her life?  These are all questions that will forever remain unanswered.

On September 20th we will mark the eighth anniversary of her death as well as the deaths of Amanda and Brian, two of her six roommates.  Three young lives gone in an instant as the result of a fire in their old wooden duplex just a few blocks from the University of Minnesota where they were all just beginning their adult lives.  So much promise … so many dreams and hopes gone in an instant.

So, what do I do?  I could continue to focus on what is no longer possible … and, trust me, I do that on occasion.  I think it’s necessary and I owe it to Liz.  To sweep it all under the rug and pretend it never happened not only is a disservice to my daughter, but it is also a disservice to me.  Revisiting the pain is necessary and part of my grieving process.  The key, however, is only to visit, not remain stuck in it.

What is also necessary is to focus on the twenty years I had with my daughter.  The times she made me laugh, made me smile, made me so mad I could hardly see straight — the good times as well as the bad.  I remember that Elizabeth’s life was so much more than the way that she died.  In the end, all I can do is smile because when it is all said and done the only thing that really matters is how much we love each other.  Love wins out over pain and heartache in the end.

There is a song by Green Day called, Wake Me Up When September Ends.  My husband has commented that he would like nothing better than to go to sleep on August 31st and wake up on October 1st.  And, even though I breathe a big sigh of relief when the calendar turns to October, I would never wish not to have September.

So in a few days I will focus on remembering.  I will honor her each and every day  – in some small ways and maybe even some big ways.  I will celebrate her and love her for what she is and will always be, my beloved first-born daughter.  Death can never change that – nor can it erase the love that we will always share.

“It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”  Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Hospice Effect

24 May

        I had been thinking about becoming a hospice volunteer for a while. It would come to me as a passing thought every now and then that I would consider for a bit and then put aside. Little did I know just how soon and how clearly my indecision would be reconciled.

Our local hospice house is on the outskirts of town on what used to be a farm place. There is a windmill and a few trees but farm fields mostly surround the house.   And, it looks like a home – not a place of death. I had tour a shortly before it opened, but had no other contact with it, other than to read the obituaries of many a local who had spent their last days and hours there.

I had become familiar with death in the most painful of ways. My oldest daughter, Elizabeth, died in 2003 from smoke inhalation from to a fire in her duplex just a few blocks from the University of Minnesota where she had just begun her sophomore year. It truly was  a “baptism by fire” and an experience I wouldn’t wish on the fiercest of enemies.

Almost eight years have passed since that fateful day, and I have come to accept that the physical presence of my beautiful daughter is gone forever. Her spirit, however, continues to burn bold and bright in my life, giving me the needed comfort and peace I so desperately sought in those early days, weeks and months.

My 82-year-old mother-in-law, Betty, had several health problems, but she managed them completely on her own, and she lived in a beautiful apartment just a few blocks from our home. She didn’t leave home much, but she was fiercely independent and had a love for family that could not be rivaled.

On April 2nd, Betty was busy in her kitchen when she made a sudden turn, lost her balance, and fell to the floor. Luckily, she had a lifeline around her neck. She pushed it and it wasn’t long before the authorities were there to help get her to the hospital.

Our local hospital determined that her hip had been badly broken, and it would be best to transfer her to Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, just a short 30-miles away.

It was so nice to know that she was receiving the best care the medical world could offer. She underwent surgery to repair her shattered hip. She came through with flying colors and we all breathed a sigh of relief and began to focus on what we thought would come next – a rehabilitation center to get her back on her feet again and a return to her home.

It became a rocky road however. Betty’s ongoing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as congestive heart failure (CHF), was wrecking havoc with her hip rehabilitation. She would be well enough to move to the rehab center, only after a few days to suffer intense breathing issues and end up back in the hospital. This cycle went on for an entire month.

Finally, as her family, we had to accept that, despite the fact that her hip was healing nicely, her breathing issues were not. In fact, they were chronic, and they would not improve, we were told. In fact, they would only get worse.

Betty was completely exhausted and we could all see that she couldn’t fight much longer.

Our thought pattern completely changed, and we knew that the best thing for Betty was a move to hospice to be pain free and comfortable. At that point, all we wanted was rest and peace for Betty, the matriarch of our family — a woman who was widowed at the young age of 50 after the sudden, unexpected death of my father-in-law Richard in 1979 from a heart attack.

I wasn’t that close to my mother-in-law, even though I had been a part of her family for over 30 years. Yet, that day, something compelled me to focus solely on her and I found myself continually standing at her right shoulder, patting her head, bringing cool cloths to keep her comfortable, and feeding her an occasional bite of ice cream.

The atmosphere at the hospice house was home-like and welcoming. The nurses and staff were there not only for Betty’s needs, but for ours as well. Even though we would only be with them for a short 12 hours, they very quickly felt like family.

I remember toying with the thought that, at some point, I would whisper in Betty’s ear to please give Liz a hug for me when she saw her.

With Betty resting comfortably and at the urging of the nurses, everyone except one daughter went home for the night. You need your sleep the nurses told us, and we agreed — but not until we decided that one of us would stay with Betty at all times.

Just a few short hours after returning home, our phone rang with the news that Betty was gone, she had slipped away during the early morning hours with her daughter asleep by her side.

After taking a few deep breaths and letting the news sink in, I realized that I no longer had the opportunity to ask Betty to hug Liz. As soon as I had that thought, however, I was immediately immersed with an intense sense of love and peace and the knowing that my mother-in-law was now with my daughter and she was indeed giving her that hug that I had only thought about.

A few seconds later that thought was gone. But, it was immediately replaced with a complete and utter sense of gratitude that I knew was my mother-in-law’s way of thanking me for helping her in her final hours..

My brother-in-law related a few days later, that although he had been on vacation in Georgia when he got the news, his intense sadness was quickly replaced by an extreme sense of peace – a peace given to him by his mother that there was no need to be sad. She was in a better place, she was no longer suffering, and she was reuniting with those she loved.

It’s been a few weeks now and these experiences have had the chance to sink in. My answer about becoming a hospice volunteer has clearly been answered, and I have begun the process to make that happen. Some day soon, I hope to provide the same peace and love that we received to other families who will move their loved one to hospice just as we did.

I consider it a gift — a gift given to me by God and by Betty.

I have been blessed, and now, I can be a blessing to others.

The Summer of Weddings

26 Oct

This summer was the summer of weddings for  Roger me.  Many of Liz’s high school friends as well as her cousin were married over the span of the last four months.  As I attended each wedding I  secretly wondered if Liz was present  … I always felt she was … although an outward sign as proof seemed like too much to ask for.

However, as I sat by the shores of Pelican lake and watched Suzy, Liz’s cousin, marry, I began to ask Liz for a butterfly so that I would know for sure that she was there.  This was a joyous wedding, but it also brought home the fact that Liz is gone and we will never get to experience her wedding day.  It was bittersweet and I was filled with mixed emotions.  I didn’t see any butterflies during the service … I was disappointed, but I reminded myself that you just don’t always get what you ask for.  I put it out of my mind and enjoyed the beauty of the day and the fun and joy that the reception held.  What happened next was indeed a very pleasant surprise.

Numerous people came to me and asked if I had seen the two butterflies that were flitting around during the ceremony.  I was very surprised to learn about this, since I had been asking for just such a thing to happen, and it did … but I just didn’t see it.  No matter, it happened and there were several people who saw it and realized the significance.

The last wedding of the summer was that of Tanya and Steve.  I was surprised several days later to see a picture of the bride and two of her friends — all close high school friends of Liz posted on Facebook.  Just above Nicole’s head was an orb. “Hey Nicole, someone wrote, it looks like you have a ghost above your head.”

I started to laugh – it wasn’t a ghost – it was Liz.  Once again, visual proof of her presence on one of the most important days of her friend’s life.

Listen Live Tonight At 5!

3 May

I will be Suzane Northrop’s guest tonight on Blog Talk Radio. 

Listen Live at 5 pm CDT    OR    listen to the archived show

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suzanenorthrop/2010/05/03/the-suzane-northrop-show

A Story That is Meant to be Shared!

13 Mar

Those of you who know me well, know that my greatest passions are sharing my stories of extraordinary connections to my daughter Liz and fire safety prevention.

I came across a story today that combines them both.  It is a wonderful story and for all of you skeptics out there, I hope it will make you stop and think, scratch your head, and wonder … maybe there is more to life than what can be seen?

http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/news/local/hero-boy-honored

Books N Beyond

28 Feb

There is a new book club starting up in town.  The first book selection is True Stories of Messages From Beyond by Julie Aydlott and Friends.

I have been asked to be the kick-off speaker this Thursday night at 7:00 pm at the Hy-Vee Club room.

Our paper did a story about it yesterday.

http://www.owatonna.com/news.php?viewStory=114857

Take A Soul Step With Me

25 Jan

I will be a guest on the radio program, Take a Soul Step with Me, hosted by Cathryn Taylor on Blog Talk Radio on Wednesday, January 27th at 5:00 pm CST.

Click below to listen to the show.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/healthandharmonynetwork/2010/01/27/take-a-soul-step-with-me-beyond-compassion

If you would like to learn more about Cathryn Taylor and her work please visit her website:

http://joincathryntaylor.com/

EnJOY your day!

Guest Blogger

3 Dec

I’ve been asked to provide some of my writing for two different blogs.  Both of them have been published this week.  Here are the links:

http://lesleehorner.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/kims-click/

http://moniquechapman.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/putting-the-pieces-of-the-puzzle-of-life-back-together/

If I get enough hits on Monique Chapman’s blog, I will be a guest on one of her radio shows!

Enjoy your day!

What Do You Think – Coincidence or Connection?

28 Oct

I’m always so glad when I see media pieces that talk about after death communication.

Today I saw two completely different, but very stunning examples.

On THE TODAY Show this morning, a story ran about a little girl named Elena who died from cancer in 2007.  After her death, her parents and younger sister began to find notes all over the house telling them how much Elena loved them.  And, it wasn’t just a few notes here and there.  To date they have three large plastic containers full of notes.

They even found notes that were sealed in envelopes which they have chosen not to open so they will always have an unread note available from their daughter.

Meredith Viera asked them if they thought Elena somehow knew of her impending death, even though as parents they had chosen not to tell her.  Their reply was that they sincerely hoped not and they choose to believe that she did not.

Receiving these notes has been very healing for this family and has helped them on the road to acceptance and peace.

I believe that we all know everything that is going to happen – but we know it on such a deep level that we would consciously never ever access it – but some part of our soul does know.

Here is the story from TODAY if you would like to see it:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The second stunning example happened on The Oprah Show this afternoon.  The Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol showed up and chose someone from the audience to receive $25,000 .

A woman’s name was read off and she came excitedly to the stage.  During the commercial break, she told Oprah that she knew her husband was responsible for this wonderful surprise.

She explained that she had had Oprah show tickets since 2007 but because of her husband’s illness, they hadn’t been able to use them until now.  She went on to say that before her husband passed away on September 9th, they had discussed ways in which they could still continue to communicate with each other after her husband had passed.

Another marvelous example of our loved ones sending something wonderful into our lives – but more importantly letting us know that they are indeed alive and well, and living marvelous new lives.  I’ll bet for that woman having that knowing about her husband is worth more to her than winning the $25,000.

Check out Oprah’s video to watch it all unfold.

Now there will always be those who will say that these are simply just coincidences … and of course they have every right to believe that if they choose to.

For my money – these are both stunning examples of the connection we all have with those we love.  Love is a bond that can never be broken … not even by death!

And that is the best news of all!