The Sweetest Phone Call…Most Precious Messages

This was an absolutely beautiful evening here where I live in Oregon.  Clouds, rain, clearing, more clouds, more rain, more clearing.  As the sun began moving down, the light changed into something magical and golden.  I’ve never been able to resist the urge to go outside and look up whenever I see that golden light, fresh, bright green leaves bathed in it, dark gray storm behind them, brilliant double rainbow above them.  I had a really nice text visit with my son.  I sent him photos of my sky and he sent me ones of his; it was amazing in Portland, too.

PortlandSky     AlbanySky

I was teaching someone how to make a cheesecake tonight.  Ultimately, it’s very little work and a lot of waiting.  Mixing, chilling, baking, more mixing, more baking, more chilling.  Tomorrow, we’ll get to eat that particular magical and golden with Nutella cream sauce drizzled over the top and fresh strawberries.

The recipe we made was for a 9 inch cheesecake but my spring-form pan is only 7 inches.  We made the full recipe and I decided to make a tiny cheesecake in a mini pie pan with what wouldn’t fit.  The graham cracker crust only went halfway up the side and I was afraid the cheesecake part would stick so I started spreading butter around the edge of the pan with my finger.  My student asked, “Don’t you have a brush for that?”  I told him I have a paint brush but it’s too big.  He told me about the one at his place that is just about finger width… and so on… and aren’t fingers just the perfect tool sometimes.  I coated the buttered edge with extra graham cracker crumbs and called it good.


Between the work, during the waiting, I sat next to the cage where my sixteen year old parakeet, Emi, lives.  We recently lost his partner of 14 years.  He needs a lot of attention from me now so I do a lot of things sitting next to him, talking to him, listening to music together, Sudoku.  He’s survived a few close calls in his life; with nonstick cookware, midnight churro oil melting plastic utensils and a few other smoke-filled room kitchen disaster sorts of things, Fabreeze (Yes, it’s TOXIC TO BIRDS no matter what it says on the label.  It was used 2 rooms away with the door closed and put both birdies on the bottom of the cage within 24 hours).  Emi has scar tissue in his tiny lungs and so he gets a bit wheezy sometimes and makes sneezing noises; COPD for Budgies.  He’s an otherwise healthy, and mostly happy again, little and very old, bird.

As I sat with Emi tonight, it came to me that lavender might calm him, as it does us, and then maybe his breathing would be easier.  All of my lavender is blooming right now and that sky wanted me out there, too, so I grabbed my scissors and a vase and clipped a bunch.  I brought it inside to trim and put in a smaller vase with water and lavender oil to place near Emi’s cage.  While I was outside, my niece called and left a message asking me to call her, she wanted to talk to me about “some things she was experiencing.”


I felt in the middle of things so I put off calling her right away.  The light through the window caught my attention again and I saw a rainbow being cast from outside onto the curtains behind the couch where I’ve had my most vivid dreams and onto the wall beyond them.  I felt my Dannica’s presence with me and had the thought, “She really is in the light.”  I whispered thanks to her for being with me and I told her, as I do many times every day, how much I love her, my Little Angel, my Baby Girl… and miss her hugs, her physical presence, terribly.


The cheesecake had 15 minutes left in the oven but it was getting late and it’s later in my niece’s time zone so I put on the headset and called and continued to trim the lavender next to Emi’s space.  She answered in tears, so upset which worried me but at the same time I felt such calm…the beauty of this evening, the smell of cheesecake and lavender and loving my birdie and my Danni and my son and the sky… The Sky!

My niece proceeded to tell me of her experience of the past few hours/minutes/days.    “Just in the past 10 minutes,” she sobbed, “I’m feeling like Danni is trying to tell me something for you.  I keep smelling baking cakes, cupcakes, frosting, sprinkles, and Danni with you and remembering baking together.  Did she paint?  Paintbrush…  rainbows…  and flowers…. lots of flowers!”

What gifts!  It was like Christmas morning in my heart.  Dannica had actually spent the evening with me and found a way to let me know that almost as soon as it happened.  These experiences are becoming more and more powerful for me and less surprising which makes them more and more comforting at the deepest level possible.

Life is certainly something magical and golden.DanniMom

Birthday Buttons – The rest of the story

There is more to the story of Dannica’s Birthday Buttons.  I wanted to include everything in my previous post but I felt strongly about sharing what I could on her special day and  wanted to wait for the appropriate permissions to come before sharing the full story… the miracles involved.

Since my baby passed, miracles have become commonplace in my life.  I will never take them for granted, they will always take my breath away and bring my hands to my heart and my soul to its knees and I will forever bask in their warmth, their coolness, their peace; postcards from home while I’m here on Earth, at “Summer Camp.”


I saw a photo, similar to the one above, on a home page; something anyone would see when logging on to Etsy Thursday morning.  Generally, I move quickly past this page because I’m there to sell, not to buy and I usually click through to my own stats’n’stuff, only taking time to browse other shops after that.

I really could not take my eyes away from that beautiful tin and those beautiful buttons and they took me back to Dannica’s childhood button adventures instantly and fondly.  I felt her with me, beside me, in my left ear, up the left side of my face and into the crown of my head… tingling sensations of her presence, and her happiness, excitement, and her love.  Priceless!

Dannica’s Birthday, June 16, the details of this transaction between myself and Chickie became beautifully and brilliantly clear.  I had been tag-teamed by Angels.  This spontaneous purchase of antique buttons was a quantum setup between myself, my Dannica and Chickie, a lovely woman who’s also passed away and who’s Dear Ones have continued to honor her life through their own Etsy shop.


This is a photo of a beautiful young Chickie ❤

I sent a note to the shop owners to thank them and to let them know what a special gift this was and how pleased I am with it.  As I continued to look at the buttons and the little card that had been included; the birthday cupcake Thank You note from heaven.  I could almost hear the two of them giggling about it.  In the conversation that followed my purchase, I learned that Chickie’s birthday was June 13, three days before Dannica’s.

Love, Love, LOVE! to the Angelic Gemini twins.  How exciting and comforting it is to know that Dannica is continuing to enjoy the things she loved on earth from the other side.  She’s making good friends.  She’s happy.


Birthday Buttons


Today, our Dannica turns 21 years old.  I remember the day she was born so clearly… the sweet smell of her little head, that first fragile cry echoes in my mind so clearly.  I’m not sure why some of those first memories are more vivid than some of the last memories.

I think of Danni every day, nearly constantly, but this week I found myself wanting to take her shopping, wanting to get her a birthday surprise and make a special treat for her special day.  The energy around me has felt spontaneous for days; like Dannica.  She was so quick witted, so creative, so curious… so FUN!

She was also very tactile and as a small child had dexterous little fingers that enjoyed disassembling anything that was held together by nuts and bolts.  These things were usually left for me to find as surprises such as the handle falling off the wood rack followed by the fireplace screen separating into three separate panels followed by the handles to the fireplace tools going missing.  The most memorable to me was one of the legs to the kitchen table just falling over onto the floor leaving a three legged table balancing over her and the little pile of green nuts and bolts.  She looked so proud!

One day while I was folding laundry, I noticed her in the closet admiring the shiny buttons on the sleeve of a coat.  She traced them and slid her little fingers over the raised patterns on them.  I’m pretty sure she was trying to figure out how to unscrew them, too.  She never lost that love of shiny buttons and even as a precocious 8, 9, 10 year old still spent time in the closet lost in fascinated examination.

I have spent the past ten months or so surrounded by my new hobby of jewelry making.  Each night, I sit on the living room floor and sort through beads, twist wire, experiment, create.  It relaxes me.  It keeps my hands busy and makes couch potato television watching (or floor potato as the case may be) feel like more of a productive activity.  It’s been positively therapeutic as well as introvert appropriate.


This path led to Etsy.  Each day, I log into my shop to see what’s new and what others are doing.  This past Thursday when I entered the site, the first thing I saw was a photo of a beautiful vintage tin full of buttons!  I couldn’t take my eyes off it and my first thought was, “Danni would *love* that!”  I nearly clicked away from it but I just couldn’t so I bought it for her.  I could just imagine the excitement in her eyes when she opened the tin and I could see her sitting on her bed laying them out, touching them, finding her favorites and putting them all back again.  They would have become her friends, the way my beads are my friends; the way these buttons are becoming my friends, too.


I can feel her joy as I slide my fingers into the box, buttons closing in to cover them completely…maybe if I reach in far enough, I’ll feel her hand doing the same from heaven.  Again, my child’s birthday brings me a priceless gift.  It even arrived with this little card containing the image of a birthday cupcake.


Thank *YOU* Danni Jade ❤

A Birthday Gift

On April 11, my son turned 23 years old.  In celebration of his birthday, he wanted to spend the day at Powell’s Books in Portland and then go to dinner at one of his favorites, Sweet Tomatoes.  It had been eight days since my hysterectomal hollowing  (yes, I conjured that word using my own wand focused intent.)  I was tired and in pain, even with prescription pain pills, but I wanted to spend the time with my son on his special day and his dad was driving so I was happy to be able to join.

Powell’s Books, for those unfamiliar, is a massive place.  They describe themselves on their website as occupying an entire city block and stocking more than a million new and used books in 3,500 sections, making them the largest book store in the world.  There are 3 city block levels full of books.  Awesome is the only word that fits, and it is, without a doubt, that!

We arrived and parked, wandered in and went our separate ways.  Since Dannica’s passing, reading hasn’t been for me what it once was.  It’s been terribly difficult for me to get into anything that isn’t somehow comforting, whereas, before Dannica’s passing my reading list was full of Diana Gabaldon, Terry Goodkind, E L James, George R.R. Martin, Deborah Harkness, and Stephen King, among many others.

I have books on my Kindle, unfinished and awaiting my return but since Dannica’s passing most of what was my passion has passed as well, so I really felt a bit lost in this City of Books where I once would have gone crazy just to keep from spending every penny of disposable income at once!

The first stop I made was the coffee shop to get a green tea.  They let you wander the store with your beverages!  I began to wander.  I wasn’t there for anything in particular other than time with my son and, as I said, I was tired and in pain, so I hoped to find a comfy spot to sit, sip and read whatever was closest, I didn’t care what.  On my way to wherever, I found myself walking through isles of books and, for once in my life, not caring what they were, just touching them with the fingers of my right hand, holding my hot tea in my left; like a child with a stick in those old movies, where they walk mindlessly, just making clatter along a white picket fence.

Suddenly, I lost my balance, but what actually happened was I was pushed, from my right shoulder, where my hand was touching the spines of books and where I was passively looking.  This shift in motion forced me to find my balance by grabbing the shelf to my left, where I had not been looking and suddenly now was.  The next book I saw was entitled, “I’m not dead, I’m different… Kids in spirit teach us about living a better life on earth.”  I shit you not.

I stood there staring at the book.  I grabbed the book.  I held it to my heart and I cried.  To my knowledge, I was alone in that isle of books in that city of books but I couldn’t have been to be pushed that way.  I felt Dannica with me there just the way I feel here, in this isle of homes in this city of homes in the town where I live…and she pushed me!  It’s something she would have done and did do when we’d walk together…bump my shoulder with hers, playfully, until I’d lose my balance.  I came home that day with ONE book out of over a million possibilities when I wasn’t looking for a single thing other than a comfy chair and maybe an interesting magazine.

I read the book that weekend.  I read it again.  I ordered a bunch of copies and read it once more.  There are many stories I could tell of the people I was guided to give the copies to but here I will share only mine; this book brought me so much comfort, changed my thought patterns and my grief patterns and validated my beliefs that my daughter, my Dannica, is not gone.  She’s not dead, like that emergency room doctor callously heartlessly told me she was.  I knew he was wrong.

We left the City of Books and sat together at dinner.  My son’s dad asked him, as he always asks the birthday person, “What wisdom have you to offer for having lived 23 years on earth?”  My son said he’d need to think about that for a minute.

After a long minute, maybe several, he replied, “I have learned that it is possible to be very sad and very happy at the same time.”

What hell he’s been through for such wisdom.  What hell we’ve all been through.  I struggle every day to remember that happy and sad are possible within the same heart.  If that is possible, so much more becomes possible.  I’m so grateful for the gifts I received on my son’s birthday and for the gift that he is every day of my life.

Maybe 20 Seconds

On the way out to breakfast this morning, I noticed the reflection of my blinker lighting up the street sign in front of me.  The lights from cars coming from the opposite directions added flash and color and my mind instantly remembered being on the scene of Dannica’s accident.  So many flashing lights; her there, on the stretcher, her left arm falling limply to the side.

One of the first thoughts through my head was that I couldn’t have been more than 20 seconds behind her… if I hadn’t turned on the wrong street… I’d have made up that time easily and she’d be in my arms today.

The light changed to green and I turned.  The memory had removed me from my body a little bit and I realized it as I noticed how different the world looks without her in it.  I took a deep breath and brought myself back into the moment by giving myself a play by play, “I’m driving a vehicle.  It’s foggy.  The lanes split into two up ahead.  Moving to the right one.  The light is green…  oh, my God….”

My foot came off the accelerator and time slowed way down as an SUV went straight through the red light and hit the pole below it.  No brakes.  Didn’t even try to make the turn.  “He’s drunk!” my husband said, pulling out his cell phone to call for help.  Another car, a little blue one, came around me to my left, slowed down and honked angrily before speeding off into the fog.  May that driver never be in need of assistance on the road… and if he is, don’t let me be it.

The man driving the crashed vehicle backed up then drove forward into a parking lot.  I was afraid.  “What if he’s an angry drunk?”  I got out of my van and went to his car, my husband giving directions to the 911 operator.  “We have to make sure he’s okay.”  His door opened and the first thing I did was to breathe in deeply; not drunk.  Something wrong, though.  I took his hand in mine and looked into his confused face, “Are you hurt?”  He wasn’t.

People who lived in the houses along the road where Dannica’s accident happened, came out right away.  One man opened the door of her truck.  Later, he told me she looked peaceful, like she’d gone to sleep and that he had cradled her head in his hands until help arrived.  She wasn’t alone.  She wasn’t conscious.  She didn’t feel a thing.  She was at peace.  Something wrong, though.  Something wrong.

Off to breakfast and frozen to the core all I could think about was getting my hands on a hot coffee mug.  Then my next thought… 20 seconds.  Had I not forgotten to put my wallet back in my purse last night, we’d have been 20 seconds sooner.  We could have been T-Boned on our way to breakfast.  But we weren’t.

The Gift of Sight

My first earthly memory is that of looking sleepily up into wise and smiling eyes.  I was an infant of only a few months but the memory is very clear. My maternal grandfather was cradling me in his arms.  He died only a few months later and I never got to know him but I feel so much was conveyed to me in that moment of memory, through his eyes, and in a way I do know him; the most important things, anyway.  I know he loved me. I know he was happy I was in his arms. I know I felt content there, bundled and warm.  Even as a child, I noticed people’s eyes.  I saw there a measure of emotion, intent, validation. As I grew older, I noticed deeper things in people’s eyes.  There was something there, in some of them, that I couldn’t describe. Something that attracted me to them and made me want to know what was inside even as I knew that whatever it was would be kept, held close and not lightly shared, if shared at all. I wondered if anyone would ever see something like that in my eyes. What might that look like? Would it be something I would keep, hold close, not lightly if at all share?

The day Dannica and I were released from the hospital following her birth, we were sitting together waiting for a wheelchair to be brought up by Daddy and Big Brother. It was a very quiet moment. She was wide awake and her eyes, though new and fuzzy, were bright and alert. Her tiny head was resting on my left shoulder and I was looking into her sweet face and she into mine. There was a spark of recognition as we regarded each other, sweetly, through the windows of our souls. Our bond was complete. Our little family was complete. “Let’s go home, little ones.”

The night my baby was taken from me, just over 18 years later, I waited for the car in front of the hospital, this time my arms wrapped around my 21-year-old son who was shaking almost violently from shock and cold; our family no longer complete.  As I climbed into the car, my arms had never felt so empty.  It was only the beginning of the realization that my arms were not the only empty thing about me.

Two months later now and I am beginning to wonder who I am. I have started picking up some of the pieces scattered around me. Some I set gently on the table, others I allow to slip from my fingers again to rejoin the others on the floor. I envision the pieces fitting together again but when they’re all together, there is one very important piece missing from the very center.  This makes me angry, this makes me scream.  This missing piece draws my attention to the pain of the loss of it.  The space this piece left has pulled me through it and on the other side of that space, Dannica’s tragic accident and death are my introduction, my identity, my autograph.  I’m realizing I can’t just be who I was before; that person is also dead.  But how long will this be my identity?  How long is it my introduction?  How long do I sign my name with it?

I received a letter on Dec. 7th, 2012 from Lions VisionGift. Dannica chose to be an organ donor. Her donation resulted in two corneal transplants, giving two individuals who were blind the opportunity to regain their sight. I can’t help wondering about those two people. What would it be like to look into their eyes? Would I see her there? Will they see the beauty in this world that she always saw?


Maybe I’ll never actually know what it is in the eyes that attracts me but I think I’m beginning to understand what goes into the creation of it. Challenge, pain, loss, disappointment, heartbreak, and any number of other events that bring about a deep and abiding sadness.  I see that sadness sometimes, yes, but what I really see shows up when these eyes smile, when these eyes love again, when they sparkle with laughter or happy tears.  At some point, all of these people were also hollowed out.  Perhaps what I see is a glimpse of the resilience of these human spirits and the result of their simply moving through these horrible times the best they can.

I still love birds.  I still love flowers.  I still love the earth and being here.  I still love my son and my little, incomplete family.  I know there is joy in my memories.  I know the blessings will come if I watch for them rising like steam from pavement warmed by the sun after rain.  I hope the something people see in my eyes becomes greater than the sadness that lives there now.  I hope I can come to see the beauty in this world that Dannica always saw.

So softly I whisper…

Black Bird singin’ in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free….

Black Bird Fly…

Black Bird Fly…

Into the light of a dark black night.