after they are gonewhen heaven calls a loved one home, what about us?

Unexpected Miracle

craig-and-lornaMy name is Craig Jenkins, I live in Alpine, Utah.  My wife Lorna and I moved to Alpine from Dallas Texas in 1988.

On May 1st 2014, Lorna was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (non-smoking). The Doctor told her that with therapy she had 10 to 12 months to live, without therapy 6 months. Having spent the previous year watching a friend go through chemo, therapy wasn’t an option. She passed away about 4 months later on Sunday morning August 24, 2014.

Comparatively few people knew of her diagnosis. She asked me and our children not to tell anyone essentially putting us oder a gag order.  Lorna’s brother and sisters didn’t know until the evening before she passed away.  She didn’t want people asking her the “how, what, why” questions. When the Bishop announced in Sacrament Meeting that Lorna Jenkins had passed away that morning, he said there was a audible gasp from the congregation, then the tears started flowing.

That Sunday afternoon and evening, and throughout the week, friends and neighbors were stopping by offering their condolences and asking the “how, what and why” questions.  She was in Church last Sunday, today she’s gone? Whats up with that?  (Even to those that knew, she didn’t look ill.)

Monday evening, I was visiting with friends who had stopped by when our Stake President Buzz Butler, with his wife Lynn rang the door bell. Katie, our youngest daughter, answered the door. She asked him for a blessing.  They stepped into the office and he gave her a blessing.

In the blessing He told her that it was her mothers time to go, that she could have chosen to stay, but in Gods plan, it was her time to go. (In a blessing to Kurt her brother a little later in the evening, Kurt was told that his “mothers ability to bless her family was now uninhibited”.)

Toward the end of Katie’s blessing he said “your mother is here, she is in the room with us, she is standing right in front of you”. He said a few more things that she doesn’t remember, then closed the blessing.  He told her to stay there as long as she liked, he had to go “talk to your dad”.  He turned out the light, and closed the door. Katie was left expecting to “see” her mother.

From Katie’s journal:

“So, there I sat in the office chair in the dark with my mother in the room.  I had the initial thought that this could be a special experience.  I began to question if I had the faith to have a special experience.  I now realize that I thought I needed faith to see her with my physical eyes.

I began looking at an empty chair in the room, anxiously waiting for this special experience. I sat for about a minute, then realized I had no idea what to expect, so I said.

Mom, I’ve never done this before, I don’t know what I’m doing. (Then I glanced at the empty chair and asked). Am I going to see you? (Then the words came to my mind) No darlin, there is the veil.  So I glanced up toward the ceiling and asked; do you float? I’m not floating.  Ok, ok, that was a silly question.  Will I feel your hugs?  I don’t have a body. Okay Mom, will you show me how I will feel you?  At that moment, simultaneously I heard words in my mind and I felt warm!  Like really warm in my chest, and the warmness was full of life and energy.  I heard my mothers loving voice say;  I am a spirit, and I will enter your spirit, and will speak words to your mind.

I sat in that office alone, yet not alone.  It was an incredible experience that I hope to never forget”.

Shortly after Lorna passed away I woke up one night really warm in my chest. I threw the covers off. Still really warm. In my mind I tentatively asked “are you here”? The warmth intensified, Lorna was there.

I call these love notes. I have been keeping track of “Love notes” in a journal. I’m at 56 and counting.

Daniel H. Ludlow a professor at the Y in his BYU Education Week Presention in 1998 quoting President Joseph F. Smith: “Our fathers and mothers, brothers sisters and friends who have passed away…may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing…messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.”

In a First Presidency message, he added; “…it is reasonable and consistent to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond…can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them…We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever.”

Elder Charles A. Callis (Apostle 1933 to 1947) added: “We believe that there is consciousness of the spirit in the life hereafter, between death and the resurrection…Death does not congeal the lips of those who go before us; they are not far from us and they help us more than we know.

Some years ago, I read the book “The Message” by Lance Richardson. It felt pretty good to me when I read it. I know now, that it is spot on as to the order of heaven as to how loved ones minister and communicate with us. Ludlows education week presentation, as he quotes statements from apostles and prophets (in addition to my personal experiences) verifies to me what is written in “The Message”.  I’ve given a number of copies away in the last 17 months and strongly recommend it to anyone who has lost a loved one.

In our Ward Fast and Testimony meeting in June of 2015 a sister in the ward who has pancreatic cancer bore her testimony. She said they were praying for a miracle. As she said that, immediately into my mind came the words “The miracle in our family was that Lorna died”.

The past 17 months have for me and our family been, for the most part, sweet, tender and sacred. I suppose  “bitter sweet” is the right word. Sweetness tinged with sadness. The evidence of Lorna’s presence, love and support is undeniable. We have been introduced to and embraced that “order of heaven” that allows loved ones to minister to those of us left behind.  In our case a wife and mother and grandmother.

Our Daughter Calli in a face book post on the one year anniversary of her mothers passing wrote the following:

Sunday August 24th 2014 could have been a day that broke me beyond repair. Growing up and thinking about my mom dying young was a thought I really couldn’t even think it created so much fear and pain in me. On this day a year ago my “normal” was forced to change, I was no longer going to see her pull up in my driveway to come say hi or to take me to lunch. I was no longer going to be able to call and talk to her everyday on the phone, or hug her. I was never going to see her in her beautiful body again.

This new normal hurts sometimes and has taken a lot of courage and faith to be ok with. This day a year ago was not however the last time I have felt my moms love for me, it was not the last time she gave me advice on how to love her grandchildren, it was not the last time she shared beautiful insights with me. It was not the last time she comforted me and made me feel like only your mom can that everything is not only going to be ok but it is going to be great. On this day my mom left her beautiful body behind but she did not leave me. I was just forced to figure out a new normal with her. A new way of communicating with her and a new way of feeling her.

This past year has been one of the most sacred, love filled, learning and growing years of my life. My life is so much more full due to this experience. Full of love and heartbreak, fear and peace, miracles, growth and a gratitude and awe for Gods love of each of us. I’ve realized he can’t force his love on us we have to choose to allow him to love us in all our imperfectness. His love is unending and truly is unchanging. I love you mom.

Russell M. Nelson’s daughter Wendy Nelson Maxfield passed away on January 11, 2019 at the age of 67.

At her funeral service to her children and grandchildren President Nelson said :

She can minister to you in what I call “parenting through the veil”.  She can see us more clearly through the veil than we can see her.  We do not cease to love her.  We are sealed to her by eternal ties.  She loves us now more than ever.  Her desire for our well being will be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.  So dear family, stay tuned.

Part 2: And I will speak words to your mind »

I will speak words to your mind

President Russell M Nelson’s daughter Wendy Nelson Maxfield passed away on January 11, 2019 at the age of 67.

At her funeral service, to her children and grandchildren President Nelson said:

She can minister to you in what I call “parenting through the veil”.  She can see us more clearly through the veil than we see her.  We cannot forget her.  We do not cease to love her.  We are sealed to her by eternal ties.  She loves us now more than ever.  Her desire for our well being will be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.  So dear family, stay tuned.

Katie and her FamilyIn the previous post I shared  Katies experience with her mother after President Butler gave her a blessing.  When Katie asked her mother how she would feel her, Katie was told  by her mother;  “I am a spirit, and I will enter your spirit and will speak words to your mind.” .

Below is an audio clip (4:29) from Katie’s talk recounting this experience at her mothers funeral on Saturday, August 30, 2014.

In Chapter 15 of “The Message” page 112 and 113, Lance observes his grandfather deliver a message to Lance’s dad. “I watched my grandfather walk up to my dad and lean to his ear and say, “Mel, you need to give Lance a blessing today and you have to catch an airplane in twenty minutes”. “I watched as my father suddenly reacted with a start, and looked at his watch.” “Oh boy, he exclaimed I forgot, I am supposed to be catching an airplane in twenty minutes”. …What I had witnessed was a most amazing thing. My father had clearly heard my grandfather’s promptings and instantly reacted. He had not known his father was speaking to him, nor even that the inspiration came from God. But it had.”

Tom Heal, a close friend from the Dallas days who now lives in Provo, told me a few days after Lorna’s funeral; “Lorna came to me a few days before her funeral.” The feeling he had from her was that she was in a state of subdued excitement. In his mind he heard “that for her, it was like being in more than one place at a time.” It seemed to him as though she was going from one friend or loved one to another to see who could hear her. Some time after Tom related this experience to me she returned to Tom. His sense was that she was pleased that he had shared his experience with me.

The prayer of my heart from day one is that as a family, we would have “ears to hear, hearts to feel, and minds to know.”

Lorna has not only spoken words to my mind—frankly, they just seem like normal everyday thoughts—the evidence it was her usually comes after the fact. She has also used music and the lyrics of songs as a means of comfort, and communication of her thoughts and feelings. Especially of her love, support and continued presence.

Page 74 in “The Message” …music is a powerful conductor of the spirit…quite often, when you are moved to tears, it is because the Spirit is intensely present.

A number of my “love notes” have come through songs, often that I’m hearing in my mind as I wake up. I have awakened with about twelve tunes on my mind, a few hymns and other songs/tunes from our generation. A few weeks after the funeral, as I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting with Scott and his family, the hymn chosen for the Sacrament was “I Stand all Amazed”. As the song started tears started flowing. I felt Lorna’s presence as she bore her Witness to me of the Savior through that Song.

In addition to hearing her in my mind, and through songs. A movie and book were also used to bring peace and assurance to me of something I had come to believe.

And, of course loved ones and friends will be used as messengers.

From Cory Jensen a good friend:

Several years ago while riding up the Alpine Loop on my bicycle on a summer morning, a silver SUV passed me with a GIDDYUP license plate on the back. Sure enough when I rounded the corner by Timpooneke, there were Lorna and Katie taking some wedding photos by the brook and the tall pines in the early morning light. I hollered a hello as I rode past.

October 7, 2015 found me riding up the canyon again, this time on a sunny warm fall afternoon. As I approached the same spot, my thoughts drifted to Lorna. At that moment, suddenly, I felt a connection to her. Not that she was present but more that she was aware of my thoughts right then (almost like picking up the phone and calling someone). In my mind, I thanked her for her influence in my life and for the many things she had done for me over the years. In response came, “Keep an eye on Craig. Tell him that I love him.” With that she was gone.

From Elder Richard G. Scott at a BYU Devotional in 2010

“Please pardon me for speaking of my precious wife Jeanene. But we are an eternal family. Although she is on the other side of the veil, that love and appreciation for each other continues to grow and mature. I’m confident that when, in our future I see her again beyond the veil, we will recognize we are more deeply in love. We will appreciate each other even more having spent this time separated by the veil. We will have grown closer together through the loving kindness of the Lord.””

The last 17 months have been a love story for me as we “have grown closer together through the loving kindness of the Lord”.

Part 3: Mothers hear their babies’ cries »

Mothers hear their babies’ cries

Mom was always proud of her good hair days, and she took this selfie on one of those days so she'd have something to show the stylist later. We found this on her phone as we were preparing for her funeral.In September of 2014, a few weeks after Lorna passed away, I was attending a Regional Conference being broadcast to our Stake Center. Elder Russel M. Nelson was the Presiding Authority. As his wife Wendy Nelson was speaking, I heard a baby cry. My immediate thought was: If there were one hundred babies in a room, and their mothers were in another room occupied with a project that required their attentiveness, the mother whose baby cried would hear that cry. The other ninety nine would not.

As quoted in the first post Unexpected Miracle, President Joseph F Smith, of loved ones who have passed: “We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever”. Elder Charles Callis: “Death does not congeal the lips of those who go before us; they are not far from us and they help us more than we know.”

I believe that the love they have for us is unconditional, and without judgement. They understand the game we are playing and that our opponents are a fallen nature, and a fallen angel.

In The Family, A Proclamation to the World: “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.”

The passing of a mother or father does not abdicate that responsibility. Nor would they want to be relieved of their primary duty. The most important people in their lives are their families. “…they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever”.  The word “solicitous” means: full of anxiety and concern, showing hovering attentiveness.

Our oldest son Scott in a dream of his mother in August of 2015. He saw his mother, approached her and gave her a big hug. He was thinking to himself, “I’ve got to hold on tight so she can’t leave”. She pulled her head back, looked him in the eyes, and very matter of factly said “Scott, it’s my job to take care of the family.” With that she was gone.

Our daughter Calli Lewis:

About 6 months after my mom passed away I was in my kitchen listening to the radio. I was fighting feeling sad that I couldn’t call my mom. Then, a song that I had never heard before started playing. The song was Never Alone by Jesse Bonano.

As soon as I heard the first phrase tears started pouring down my cheeks. As I sat and listened to the words of this song I realized that I had been uttering a silent, pleading prayer that I was unaware of. When the lyric stated “When the courage you needed has been all but defeated in you” I realized that my fighting will to hold on to her was fading and I was scared; scared that what I was believing was wrong and that what I had heard over and over again–”You can feel them for a minute but eventually the veil closes and they go away”—was true. I was holding on so tight, and it had taken so much courage, almost like I hadn’t fully exhaled since she had passed, for fear it would all slip away. This song answered all of my unspoken fears.

The next morning as I woke up I heard her voice in my mind say over and over again “I am not dead, I am not gone”.

Mothers hear their babies’ cries. So do Fathers.

Don Coplin, a very dear friend:

…I share some experiences that, while unique to me, perhaps shouldn’t be to any of us willing to allow such experiences.

The last few years have been challenging in many ways. I have dealt with financial, health, and family issues with no let up nor any light at the end of the tunnel. They each wax and wane occasionally in severity but continue on. Ever the optimist, I have mostly put on my “game” face and slogged on thru repeated assaults on my patience, trusting in the Lord and striving to find new ways of overcoming my particular difficulties.

During one of my darkest moments of hopelessness, I was driving to meet with a Doctor who was going to administer a trial procedure to address one of my health issues. I was feeling rather down and was silently praying for some direction in which I could have confidence. I began to feel very warm inside my chest and was overcome with a sense of emotion I had never experienced before. I began sobbing and realized that there was a “presence” in my truck with me. I knew that it was my Father who had passed away 19 years ago. I continued to sob and finally got the courage to speak. I said, “Where have you been? I have missed you so much”! I heard my Father say to me, “Don, I am always with you, everything is going to be okay”. I continued to cry to him and began to ask about my health, financial and family difficulties. Before I could form the sentences, he spoke again saying, with emphasis, “EVERYTHING, will be okay!”

An incredible calm came over me at that point. We continued on in silence and then his presence began to fade. The love I felt, the caring I felt, were indescribable. Never have I felt such a feeling.

I have also come to recognize the many times in the past when he guided me without my realizing his influence.

I have come to believe that when we think of them, somehow they know it. Sometimes when we think of them, it is because they are thinking of us and want us to remember them.

In my first post Unexpected Miracle I mentioned that I have received, to date, 57 Love Notes from Lorna. The first—and probably most important— was “Please, don’t forget me”.

Part 4: Love Notes »

Love Notes

IMG_0074In the first post “Unexpected Miracle” I wrote about the evidence of Lorna’s presence in my life and the lives of our family. It has been 19 months since she passed away, She is still present.

I wrote that I call these evidences “love notes”.

In the post “I will speak words to your mind” I mentioned music, and that music is a powerful conductor of the spirit. In this article, I will share a few of the songs and lyrics that have come into my mind that have answered my questions and brought me peace and comfort.

Usually, just as I am waking up, I become aware of a verse, or part of a verse, from a tune playing over and over in my mind.

One of my first concerns after Lorna was gone, (and it was a genuine concern), was “will Lorna still want me?” Will she be there waiting for me when I return. For whatever the reason, rational or not, it was a concern.

Three or four weeks after Lorna had passed away, as I’m waking up, a verse from the song “Have I told you lately” by Rod Stewart was repeating over and over in in my mind. “Have I told you lately that I love you”, (I thought the next verse was, have I told you that I care). I finally realized what was happening and got up and googled the song.

I had the first verse right but not the second, and no clue as to the rest of the song. “Have I told you lately that I love you, have I told you their is no one above you…there is a love thats devine and its yours and it’s mine…”

That song was a great conductor of the spirit. I know Lorna will be there waiting for me.

In Katies’ blessing from President Butler, she was told that it was her mothers time to go, but that she was given a choice, she could have chosen to stay. As I was thinking about our life together, (almost 42 years) I wondered if it was a hard decision to leave. Soon after, as I’m waking up on morning, “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun” was in my mind, once again going over and over. Thats all I knew, no idea who sang it, or what the song was about. I googled “We had joy, we had fun” and learned it’s a song by Terry Jacks.

“Goodbye to you my trusted friend, we’ve known each other since we were nine or ten, together we’ve climbed hills and trees, learned of love and abc’s, skinned our hearts and skinned our knees.

Goodbye my friend, it’s hard to die, when all the birds are  singing in the sky, now that spring is in the air, pretty girls everywhere, think of me and I’ll be there.

We had joy, we had fun we had seasons in he sun but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time…”

Again, answered a question, brought comfort and peace.

As I think of her, sometimes I will say in my mind or out loud, “Love you Lorna” and I remember saying one day “I hope that puts a smile on your face.” A Short time later, over and over as I’m waking up a line from a Bobby Vinton song “I love how you love me“.

The other non hymns: Whitney Houston: “I will always love you“.  “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers.  “Let it be Me” by the Everly Brothers. “Kiss me Goodbye” by Petula Clark.

The miracle to me in all of this: I never listened to the music of my generation. I never bought a record, I didn’t listen to the radio stations that played the music of my generation. I didn’t watch “American Bandstand” with Dick Clark. If I listened to the radio, I would listen to “elevator music”. I didn’t know who Rod Stewart was, who Terry Jacks was. I didn’t know the Righteous Brothers or the Everly Brothers or what they sang. Didn’t know Bobby Vinton. I knew of the Whitney Houston song because of the movie “Bodyguard” and I had a recollection of Petula Clark but couldn’t have told you about her music.

With each of those songs, I would wake up with a few words from a verse, and the tune in my mind. I would have to google (thank goodness for google) the words I was hearing and the song would magically appear and I could listen to it in its entirety. I was always moved to tears and felt the intensity of the Love that Lorna has for me. I have these songs on a playlist (didn’t know what was 19 months ago) in my phone and listen to them often.  I always picture Lorna singing them to me.

Craig Jenkins

Part 5: Grave Site and Headstone »

Grave Site and Headstone

The last week of Lorna’s life was a downword freefall compared to the preceding 4 months. On Wednesday after being in Salt Lake for some therapy in the morning, she was unable to get out of the car and walk into the house. We decided to go to Utah Valley Medical Center. We were there until Friday evening as they conducted various tests and procedures. Before checking out, I found the Doctor and asked him to “just tell me” what the science was telling him.  He replied that the tumor was growing, there were extensive blood clots in both lungs and she wouldn’t see 2015.

Lorna woke up the next morning, Saturday, with severe anxiety as she was having difficulty breathing. We rushed to the American Fork Hospital Emergency Room, where they put her on oxygen and an IV drip with a little morphine. It calmed her down immediately. Up to that point, 4 ibuprofen twice a day had taken care of any pain or discomfort.

I figured we would be there a few hours then go home. I’m not sure when I realized that was not going to happen.

The only family member not there on Saturday was Katie. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and children. She was checking in for updates every few hours.

Late in the day Saturday, as Lorna’s condition continued to worsen, we suggested Katie get to Utah asap. Katie flew all night arriving in Salt Lake about 10:30 am. Calli picked her up at the Airport and they got to the hospital at 11:15. Katie was able to tell her Mother goodbye and how much she loved her. Lorna died a few minutes later at 11:30 am, Sunday, August 24, 2014.

Monday found us taking care of funeral arrangements, which included a visit to the Alpine City Cemetery. Scott went to the sextons office and picked up a plot map of available grave sites. We were somewhat disappointed with the location of the sites on the map he was given, they were all located in just one section of the cemetery. We wondered if there were other plots available in some of the other sections. Scott told us that the cities cemetery sexton had retired 2 months previous and it was the new sextons first day. The person who had been handling cemetery matters while the city was looking for a replacement was not there when he stopped in. He said he would go in Tuesday and see if that person knew of other avaliable plot’s in the Cemetery.

Tuesday morning Katies husband and boys flew in from Kentucky. While playing with her boys at the house she heard in her mind “Go to the cemetery office now!” She asked her husband Clint to watch the boys as she headed to the cemetery office.

When Katie walked into the sextons office, the new sexton was there as was another person. Katie explained that her mother had died Sunday, that her brother Scott had picked up a plot map on Monday and wondered if there were any plots available other than on the map Scott had been given. The other person got on the computer and printed out a different map than the one Scott was given the day before. She gave Katie a map of “cemetery plot buy backs”. The available sites on that map were scattered here and there throughout all the different sections of the cemetery. The new sexton replied “I didn’t even know about those”. The other person in the sextons office that morning? Annalisa Beck, the sexton that had retired 2 months previous. She was on her way to Lake Powell for Labor Day weekend and decided to stop in and see if the new sexton had any questions before she left town 🙂

IMG_0156For years Lorna and I had taken walks in the cemetery. We would park at the Military Monuments, then head north past a peaceful, somewhat secluded section of the cemetery. There were some buy back plots in that section. Lorna’s buried there, in that peaceful, somewhat secluded section, located in the very Northeast corner of the Alpine City Cemetery.

As for the Headstone

We moved into the house on Matterhorn Dr in 2005. Lorna found out from a friend, Kit Lund, that you could get a permit to go into the Unitah mountains and get landscape rocks for your yard. For the next 8 or 9 years she sent me to the mountains to get rocks. At least 50 times up and down that mountain road getting rocks for us as well as friends.

It was a given then, that for Lorna’s headstone we would go to the mountains and hopefully find a suitable marker.

Four of us went to the Unitahs to find a headstone. Don Coplin (who had been with me on most of my trips up the mountain) Conrad Gottfredson who loved to go “harvest rocks” for his yard, Darren Hartvigsen who had never been but always wanted to go and me.

IMG_0146I had the dimensions from the cemetery sexton for a two person upright headstone. Up to 78 inches long, 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide.

I knew where some possible headstone rocks were. We stopped and measured a couple of times but the rocks were to big or not big enough.  About a quarter of a mile from where we would usually turn around, the road narrows.

There, on the side of the road, was a large flat rock.

We stopped, we measured: 78 inches long, 38 inches tall (I knew we would lose a couple of inches of height when it was set in its base) and 12 inches wide. Perfect, it was perfect.

15 minutes later it was on the trailer and we were heading to Heber City for our traditional burger, malt and fries 🙂

Don, Conrad and I have been up and down that road many, many, times over the years. We had been up there earlier in the summer for some rocks for Conrads yard. On that trip we had gone past that narrow spot where this rock was laying twice. On the way up and on the way down. We can say with certainty, that rock wasn’t there on that earlier trip up the mountain. But somehow, it was there that morning. Right next to the road. In plain sight. As though someone wanted us to find it.

IMG_1276The first three questions I want answered when my time comes to pass through the veil. Number one; tell me about big foot. Number two; where were Book of Mormon lands really? And, number three; how did you get that rock. Right next to the road. In plain sight. So we couldn’t miss it? That may even become my first question.

Part 6: Two Deep »

Two Years

The following is a post written by Craig and Lorna’s daughter, Calli. It first appeared on her personal blog

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 9.44.59 PM

Today marks two years.…I have thought a lot about how to describe the last two years. First off I decided to make a pros and a cons list.

Cons: I don’t get to interact with her physically.

Pros: My mom isn’t in the proverbial pit with me, its not the blind leading the blind, she can see much more than I can.

Immediately following my moms death I remember feeling an urgency from her, an urgency for myself and my siblings to not begin the journey of forgetting her and learning how to live life without her. We had a family group text and I felt like she was using that as an example. “Keep me in the loop as if I was still a part of and responding to the family group text.” Shortly after this experience I was talking to one of my friends who does a lot of meditating. She mentioned that my mom had shown up during her meditation the Saturday night preceding my moms passing. My mom wanted to make sure that in case I wouldn’t be able to hear her after she passed she would have a way to communicate with me.

If I could wave a magic wand and have my mom come back to life I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it because I believe that this was the plan for my family from the beginning. I want what I think everyone wants—I want to feel happy, I want to love and be loved. I know that having my mom on the other side of this crazy earth experience increases my ability to experience both joy and love ten fold.

When it comes to my relationship with my mom, I do not focus on how long it is going to be before I see her again. I keep her alive. Keeping her alive in my world is an act of presence, faith, and courage. There were moments soon after my moms passing where I thought it might be easier if I would just start focusing on forgetting her rather than keeping her alive. Meaning believing that I will see her when I die but until then I need to get on with my life as if she were gone. I could honestly just be a certifiable crazy person who has an imaginary friend in the form of my mom, they say death can do crazy things to people.

I don’t believe I am crazy, perhaps the crazy idea is that we are supposed to shut ourselves off to the people who have preceded us in death.

My journey of figuring out what Gods role is in my life, is exactly that—a journey. Growing up I believed that if I followed a certain list of instructions God would then grant me my desires. I don’t believe that anymore. I believe that I sat down with Heavenly parents before I came to this earth and mapped out my life. I chose what I wanted to experience here. It is how I explain the idea “why do bad things happen to good people” “If there was really a God who loved us he wouldn’t let such horrible things happen.” Because God loves us he lets “horrible” things happen. He didn’t send us down here alone. He sent us down here together. I believe we’re all going back, regardless of what we did and didn’t do. We came here for experience, not to prove ourselves worthy of something we already are and have. Gods love for me cannot increase OR decrease so why would I spend all of my time trying to become worthy of a love that cannot change. I believe that God allows me the opportunity to experience the things I desired to experience. That looks like not saving my mom from cancer, not preventing me from being hurt and feeling alone or afraid or any of the other things we pray for deliverance from. We set our lives in motion by coming here. God is not withholding anything from us. He provides us with his Grace. His unending, unearned, unchanging love. Which in turn allows us the opportunity to experience things without being totally crippled by them. I love the children’s book The Little Soul & The Sun by Neale Donald Walsch. Again we are all in this together including those of us on this side of the veil and those of us on the other.

My mom is still here with me, she will always be here with me helping me learn and grow and experience more joy and more love everyday. It’s like having a cheat sheet for a test. I am constantly asking her questions. The answers come in all sorts of ways—through music, through thoughts in my head as soon as I wake up, through dreams, through pictures in my mind, through words in my mind. It is a language we all speak, we just have to remember how to speak it. We can only put our energy in so many places. What we water grows. My thoughts are the water. I have spent a lot of time watering my relationship with Heaven. Consequently my relationship with my mom has grown, it is strong and it is thriving.

God is so good. Life really is so very beautiful.

Calli’s journal;  August 24, 2017

It has been three years since my mom passed away.  This year has been full of all the “feels” when it comes to her death.

Following my mom’s passing if I felt like the reality of her being gone was too much, I would often chant over and over again to myself “I am okay, I am okay, I am okay”.  Following one of these chants I heard her in my mind say; “I am not okay with just okay, I want you to be happy and I will help you”.

My mom was a problem solver, I am very much like her in that regard.  About a month ago I was thinking about my mom and I realized that when she died something very deep inside of me broke in a way I had never experienced before.  It was almost like the for the past three years a part of me has been on a constant adrenaline rush trying to find a solution for what had happened to my heart.  If I kept going and looking then the adrenaline rush would continue and I wouldn’t feel the complete impact of her loss.

Like I said earlier, this like has been full of ALL the feels.  When myself and my family have expressed to people on many occasions that her passing has been one of the most beautiful gifts, it is true.  It genuinely has been a time of so much learning, loving, continued grace and beautiful experiences.

For me there has never been an experience like death that has shown me that I am not just human.  My soul knows there is no separation, my mom has told me three different times that she is not going anywhere, she is NEVER leaving me.  It doesn’t matter how many years go by, or if my life is going so beautifully that it would seem like I didn’t need her, she’s never leaving.  This knowing and me trusting is what has made the last three years so beautiful.

I do believe in a God that is loving.  I also believe that love is all things.  It is not just nice, kind, comfortable, it is all the feels.  I have heard many times that our lives are like a big tapestry, each color representing different experiences.  Losing someone so close to us in my opinion adds a lot of colors really fast.  It changes you permanently  almost like an accident that would cause someone to walk with a limp for the rest of their life.

I think that most of us from the time we are young are often told to not dirty, to try not to break things, and often is something does get dirty or broken it can be fixed or replaced.  Losing my mom can’t be fixed or replaced for my human self.  So I have been forced to feel all the feels, to experience things I never had to before.  It has created a permanent change in me.  It has made me more compassionate, tender, and mature, given me a depth that I didn’t have before.

One night I was surrounded by some women that I love.  I was expressing at that moment how much I missed my mom.  As I was talking with them I realized that in some ways I wanted to keep myself separate from all of the other people who had lost their moms, and they did not appear to be okay.  I did not think that I could do it like they appeared to be doing it.  I was not going to belong to the lost moms club.  As I was expressing this to them, one of them said; well I am in the lost moms club, do you not want to be connected to me?  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be, I was scared to be.  I think one of the most difficult things to do in this life is to just BE with each other in pain.  Not having a solution for it, not being able to fix it, just sitting and being with each other in moments of intense heartache.  I fortunately or unfortunately have learned how to just BE with intense heartache.  For me simultaneously there is also soooooo much love.

I am part of the dead mothers club.  This was the scariest club that ever existed to me.  I did not believe that I would survive.  I have survived, and way more often than not I am so much better that OKAY.  I love my mom, I feel her everyday, I have created a new relationship with her that is so precious to me.  All of this kind of happened by default.  I didn’t have a choice but to figure out how to reconnect with her.  Today as I reflect on her being gone for three years I am grateful for all the feels that happen on this beautiful earth.

Love you Mom

Calli’s Journal; September 16, 2019

Happy birthday mom.  Life seemed so predictable before you died, turns out predictability really is for the birds.  Most days when I let myself really think about you being gone it feels like a really long dream that I can’t seem to wake up from.  It is not necessarily a sad dream, it is just so far from what I ever imagined.

When you first died I felt like I was thrown onto the front lines of a war I never ever wanted to fight.  Every year that goes by it does get easier, I get more and more used to life without you in it the way you used to be.  I no longer feel that I am fighting in any war.  I know that you are and will always be with me. I miss the ways in which we used to interact, but I love and am so grateful for the ways that we now interact.  I love you forever and consider myself the luckiest girl in the world to get to be your daughter.

Calli’s Journal; August 24, 2020

6 years…I’m so thankful that I can still see her in my mind.  I’m thankful that the image I see is of her laughing.  My dad, siblings and I believe that her ability to love, watch over, help and protect us is much greater now than it ever could have been if she were still here.  One of the most amazing gifts is watching my dad continue to parent us kids WITH her.  It is a beautiful thing to behold.  I am thankful everyday for my mom, for the ways she is still a part of my life, my kids lives, my friends and families lives, it is truly remarkable.

Part 7: Homeward Bound »