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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Your "Why" Will Make You Cry

Your “Why” Will Make You Cry

Many times in my life, I thought I uncovered my life's purpose.  It wasn't until I experienced the worst that could happen, that I recognize our greatest purpose might come from our greatest sorrow.


There is one profound common experience I believe we all share...we’re on a quest to find that one thing that we can finally say “Ah, that’s why! That was my purpose for living.”

photo courtesy of Darvin Atkeson, LiquidMoonlight.com
As a little girl growing up in Monterey, California, I was often teased because of my fiery red hair, white skin, and freckles. I remember one cruel boy spit in my face and shouted, “I’d rather be dead than red!” I ran to the girls’ bathroom holding back tears as I wiped the mean boy's spit from my face. I stifled a sob and gazed into the mirror at my little red haired self. I felt ugly for the first time in my young life.
Yes...I'm the red head

That boy’s bullying made me cry, but it also fueled my drive to do something unique and remarkable, even if I did have red hair. That whisper of possibility came to fruition when a musical group called Up With People toured my hometown. It was my “Glee.”

At the age of 16, I flew to New York to join the national cast.  I sang and danced my way around the world. It was the time in our country when we still struggled with the loss of our beloved President Kennedy, we were in the throes of war in Vietnam, the Hippie culture preached “Free Love and Peace,” and drugs seduced young people into an altered state.

But this was my platform and a stage to declare my uniqueness, along with the multicultural cast of people who joined me in a celebration of life.

Singing in Venice Italy
photo courtesy of dusty Araujo 
While touring Italy in the Spring of 1968, our cast received the tragic news of the deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. How could this have happened? I thought I was changing the world one song at a time.

I couldn’t define the impact of this unfamiliar grief. It was a different kind of sad than when my grandmother died.  The assassination of those two great men brought us all to common ground as we profoundly mourned the loss of our heroes and the demise of the future with those men as guiding lights.

Our next tour was Africa. We were invited to perform for the heads of the African Nations at the OAU, singing our songs in their language, Lingala, French, and Swahili. After the performance we feasted on lavish steak dinners, finishing with flaming Cherries Jubilee.

The next day, we journeyed deep into the heart of bush country. We stopped at the villages and met hungry, swollen bellied children. Those children were malnourished and we were well fed. I felt helpless, and conflicted.
In the Congo,
photo courtesy of Helen Hill-Stephens

They huddled around me, curious and intrigued by my bright red hair. They affectionately stroked my freckled arms. I sang for them in their native language, Lingala. They bashfully hugged me with delight.  My song was the only nourishment I could offer.

A few years ago, I saw Oprah’s “Favorite Guest,” Dr. Tererai Trent, a Zimbabwean woman, married at 11, and had three children by 18, but a spark in her had the seed of a dream.

Missionaries came to her village, and told her to write down her heart’s desire. She etched her thoughts on a piece of tin and buried it under a tree. She dreamed of an education and moving to America to earn a college degree. She did all of that, and more…in fact, she earned her PHD. 

I thought about those swollen bellied children I’d met decades ago in the Congo. Could my presence in 1968 have had an impact on their lives? Could I have awakened their heart’s desire? And that revelation made me cry. I began looking at the things I’d done that may have sparked the light in someone else’s life.








When my daughter was born with a facial cleft, she taught me everything about the beauty of imperfection. I realized it was my calling to educate other children. I wrote fairy tales to help all children who felt different. I did talk shows, wrote articles, and went into schools with my best friend, actress Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie), to raise awareness. I had a profound purpose…to pave the way for my child and others like her.

I thought I had life figured out. Hand me a challenge and I'll just go to war with the cause. That was, until, I experienced the worst that could happen.
Toward the end of my 42nd year, life dropped me to my knees. My 16 year old son woke up with fever and was dead the next morning. Just that quick. The doctor’s misdiagnosis of the flu turned out to be the silent deadly killer, bacterial meningitis. 

How can you possibly go on when you've lost a child? Grief is everywhere and in every breath you take. There's a reason why people call the death of a child “the worst that can happen. 
Because it is. 
The loss of a child changes every chapter in your book of life. 
My beautiful boy Garrett

Every morning I'd wake up and know without a doubt that it would just be a matter of moments before I'd remember my son died and it would stab me in the gut every time. It was unbearable and I wanted to hide in my room and turn my life over to the sadness that consumed every part of me.

Then, I would hear my 1 year old son, Jackson, calling out to me and I had no choice.  I had to continue being a mother to my three living children. Their childhood deserved more than my best. They lost someone too, and I couldn't let Garrett's death take their mommy or their childhood away. 

In the course of my commitment to healing, I began to write in my journal. As I poured over the pages and saw my journey of grief, I realized I was doing something important. I was recording my healing in words. And, I became aware that in this master plan of my life, my story could possibly help other bereaved parents.

And that’s when I had to resurrect purpose from my most painful “why.” The “why” borne from the darkest grief of the worst that can happen, the death of my beautiful child. 

And so, I wrote a step-by-step guide for parents entitled “How to Survive the Worst that can Happen.” Even in his death, my son now continues to change lives…most of all mine. And that
My book for parents who have lost children
http://amzn.to/1hJrPGr
thought makes me cry.

Your “why” can come from your greatest joys and sometimes, your greatest sorrows, but it’s all part of building a life that matters.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
  • 1.     Allow change to be a driving force in your life. Often, the loss of a dream is the launching pad for discovering your destiny.
  • 2.     Sometimes, the thing that makes you different is the very thing that people will remember in a positive way.
  • 3.     What are you waiting for? Discover what’s holding you back. Life Coach Max Simon says, “People will change when they’ve suffered enough.” Recognize how far you’re willing to go before making a change.
  • 4.     If money weren’t an issue, what would you be doing? I know for a fact, I would still be writing, even if I had millions in the bank. Writing fuels my passion for life.
  • 5.     Obstacles create possibilities. Look at major life changing events, losses, or roadblocks to success as opportunities.
  • 6.     This one is important...write a list of all the things you’ve accomplished that have brought enlightenment to others.  It will be a resource of inspiration. It can be something like making an apple pie for a friend, donating your time at a charity function, or building a home for Habitat for Humanity.
  • 7.     Your “Why” should make you cry.  Above all, your mind, your heart, and your soul will know when you’ve found your “Why,” because the emotion will pool deep from within and will bring you tears of knowing…. and there’s no doubt you will cry.

My husband and I recently returned to Italy
where we both performed In Up With People
In 1968
After my husband died at 54, I thought I would never find love again. Two years ago, I received a message on Facebook from one of the men I traveled with in Up With People. He remembered me as “The beautiful redhead.” I wish I had known back then, I was beautiful.
Guess what…I married him! Destiny chose him for me in this second half of my life, way back in 1967! He was one more  “why” that came from my travels long ago. 

Julianne today...photo by Erin Muller
And my daughter Julianne? She was always beautiful...but look at her.
Now that makes me cry.

Ask yourself, “What is my why?” Be open to the possibility there may be more than just one thing that summarizes your “why.”

Look to your past for clues. Life is not a linear journey. It has ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs.  It transforms us to a higher level… revealing our “Why.”

I recognize that now, and that thought makes me cry.




Sandy Peckinpah is the host of a radio show, Passion By Design on KRXA 540 Am Talk Radio. She's the author of several books, her newest being “How to Survive the Worst that can Happen,” a parent’s step by step guide to healing after the loss of a child, written from her own experiences (available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Balboa Press). Her blog, www.BreakthroughToHappy addresses an array of inspiring subjects from transformation, grief, and resilience.. Sandy welcomes your inquiries: sandy@sandypeckinpah.com. Visit her website www.SandyPeckinpah.com

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Journaling Through Life's Transitions

Journaling Through Life’s Transitions

A Vision Book of Words to Find Happiness after Recovering from Loss, Heartache, or the Unexpected 

My journals of healing

There’s not a person on this earth who’s immune to change, transition, or suffering. Every single one of us have times in our lives when suddenly we are in the throes of chaos, or loss, or change of heart… and it turns our world upside down.

I know, because suddenly, without warning, my life changed. My beautiful 16-year old son came home from school complaining of a headache and a fever. The doctor diagnosed him with the flu. But it wasn’t. I found him the next morning, lifeless. The misdiagnosis was a swift and deadly form of bacterial meningitis. Sometime during the night, my boy was taken from me forever.

Nothing evokes a more profound life change than loss: whether it's the loss of someone you love,  or a divorce, job loss, a home, or your child being born with a birth defect… anything that strips away the life you thought you had.

At this point you have to make a choice: will you choose to go on living life, or will you remain trapped forever in a stifling world of grief; literally bound and chained to sadness?

There is a way to set forth on the path of recovery to reclaim your life, no matter how daunting it may feel. It just takes one step to start the journey.
           
It begins with the process of writing. The very nature of writing opens the brain and allows thoughts and emotions to form words on paper. And then… it releases them. It’s a way of emptying your sorrow from the well of your mind, and pouring your tears as ink onto paper. And for a little while, you can let your thoughts and emotions rest.
           
“But, how can I? I’m not a writer,” you ask. It doesn’t matter. The words aren’t important.
Even if you begin by writing just one line, your mind will send the words to your pen and they will flow onto paper.

It was an effort for me, too. When I began my grief journey, I could only write:  My son died and my life will never be the same.”
           
The next day, I wrote a paragraph, and each day after that I found words came more easily. There’s no magic secret. Just pick up a pen and begin with one word or sentence. Writing should just be on autopilot, even if you write senseless words and phrases. It’s the power of written expression that allows you to take a step away from the pain of living it… to observing it.

When we begin to translate our thoughts and emotions into language on paper, we detach it from our brain in order to write it down. It’s a tool of expression, and for me, it often took the place of tears. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or handwriting. This is for you and no one else.

Your journal is now your safe place to write you truth, reflect on the past and present, be angry, reveal weakness, scream, and pray.

Many people prefer to write on a computer. I urge you to commit to the written journal first. The very act of writing with a pen allows thoughts to flow from your brain to your fingertips, uninterrupted by things like spell check, emails coming in, and auto formatting.

There’s another reason for this journal. It’s going to be your book of vision.

It’s where you’ll tell your story of past and present and your dreams for the future.  It’s your lifeline. It’s also a place to list recipes, poetry, photos, quotes, store pressed flowers, silly doodles, and dreams.

I treasure the journals I kept during the mourning of my son because I had thoughts that, to this day, astound me. It illuminated the development of my beliefs, documented my renewal, and highlighted my incredible “will” to survive.

Writing in your journal will provide a framework to monitor your resilience. Someday, you too, will look back on your journal and be astonished at how far you’ve come.

After awhile, an amazing thing begins to happen. You see hope rise up within your words. I began to write about more than just my sorrow.

The process of writing is a natural demand on the brain that awakens the “feel good” hormones to fuel your brain. This process is what people describe as the most important step in envisioning your future, actually feeling the feelings as though it has already happened. Experts tell us this is the key to manifesting your dreams into reality.

I soon realized as I watched my dreams come true, that I was creating a written vision board for my future.

This is your vision board, or your Vision Book, and it’s more powerful than magazine photos of other people’s things pasted on poster board. Writing is a way of clearing out your brain. It’ll become your living textbook in the healing process and the launch pad to your future.

You’re downloading your life, putting it in a file, and adding to the possibility and mounting evidence that future files will offer you peace  and happiness.

Spend at least 10 minutes consistently every day on your journal. It should be non-negotiable, like eating healthy food, and getting exercise.

Your healing begins today…not tomorrow, not a week from now. The quicker you take action, the quicker you’ll restore happiness to your life.

Start with this simple journaling exercise and soon you’ll have confirmation that you are, in fact, writing your future. Remember, there isn't one of us who has had a life without challenge or tragedy. It's the collection of those experiences that creates the true story of who we are. They are gifts from God that shape us, and when shared, can change other people's lives.

Here's what I know, healing is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Without it, our tragedies cannot give us the gift of triumph.

I suffered the greatest tragedy a mother could imagine, and I survived in part by transcribing my deepest wounds into words. When I had lost all hope for joy, my journal helped me give birth to resilience and the astonishing resurrection of happiness in my life.

It can do that for you, too. Now open your new journal and write boldly on the first page:

"This is the beginning of my new life and the blank pages that lie ahead are filled with possibility."

Blessings to you,










Sandy Peckinpah is an author of several books (her newest book due out in April, "How to Survive the Worst that can Happen") Her first book, "Rosey...the imperfect angel" was recorded as a CD (with the voice of Melissa Gilbert, produced by Michael Alden, music by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra) and made it to the Grammy Ballot in 2009. She co-hosts a radio show, Passion By Design, on AM Talk Radio on KXRA. She is also an award winning real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Southern California. She suffered tremendous losses, but she was inspired to use those losses as a platform to helping others. Visit her blog and website at www.SandyPeckinpah.com
Twitter feed @SandyPeckinpah
radio show: Sunday afternoons at 5:00 pm Pacific on http://krxa540.com

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
For past blogs, click links below. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Surviving the Worst That Can Happen, Loss of a Child

Surviving the Worst That Can Happen

Steps to Healing




My beautiful boy, Garrett. He was at the top of his game when suddenly, on December 19th many years ago he died of bacterial meningitis. 

On this day, I am grateful to my son for giving me the gift of insight and the gift of life. 

My life. 

In his loss, I learned how to be resilient, how to love harder, and how to appreciate every moment, every touch, every emotion I have in lifeIt's every parent's worst nightmare, yet I have survived the worst that can happen; the tragic, untimely, unthinkable loss of a child.  


But on this day, my heart goes out to my friend Robert, and my friend Charles who both lost their daughters just a few short weeks ago. 


To you and other families who experience such tragic loss, I offer you hope and a promise that you will reclaim a quality of life you can live with.  You will learn your life has deeper meaning because it's the beginning of a search for why we exist, why we die, and most of all why we love. 



I heard someone say, grief is not a life sentence, it's a life passage. It's the one common human experience that we will all have at one time or another in our lives. But we didn't expect it to be the death of my child, or your child, did we.

In the years following my son's death, I was surprised to discover, no matter how great my loss, or how deep my grief, the world doesn't stop. In fact, it intensifies, and I had to learn how to embrace such a huge awareness for the unexpected. I didn't know on December 18th so many years ago, when I kissed my son goodnight it would be my last kiss to my beautiful alive boy.


I've learned so much through the grief storm that followed.  I know I'm stronger, I know I'm a more loving and compassionate person, and I never, ever take a single day for granted. Ever. 


My heart aches for you Robert and Charles and those who are suffering loss. It's not easy, but

here's what I want you to consider:

1. Cry deeply now because someday you will miss those tears that come from the deepest part of your soul. The part that no man or circumstance can take from you...the part that created that child with your love.

2. Allow others to do things for you. Don't try to be brave. This is a time people want to help. Let them make your dinner, pick up your dry cleaning, and sort through your mail. In your loss, you are giving them meaning and purpose.

3.Talk about your child to those who will listen. Those are the memories and stories that will be a part of forming your new relationship with your child...one that will last forever. 


4. Forgive those who don't know what to say or say the wrong thing. They are trying to help and want so desperately to ease your pain.

5. Know that one day you will be able to control your grief instead of it controlling you. It will never go away, but the time in between where life seems okay will get longer. 


Life has taught me that things don't always happen the way we planned. After losing Garrett I thought my heart would never heal, but it did.

My Baby Boy

I've worked the steps of grief over the years and arrived at the other side. I now have a soft gentle agreement with God that I have indeed found acceptance and opened a space in my heart for joy.

My son died on December 19th so many years ago, and yet I see now, it was the beginning of my new life... learning how to live with the loss. I had to honor his life and his death by healing.


And I have done just that. Sadness no longer defines me. I realized I had the power within me to compartmentalize the sadness. I can still cry when I want to, but it doesn't feel out of control. Instead, there's a harmonious comfort to it as my heart connects with the sweet ballad of his memories. I am able to look at the life of my son and marvel at the 16 years, 3 months, and 10 days I had with him. His life was such a gift, and so were the lessons learned from his death.  


I've learned that love never dies. It's the most important human experience there is. It's a privilege and a commitment and not always easy. I've learned that being a mother is a gift, even when you have them for just a short while.


I suffered the greatest tragedy a mother could imagine and I survived. 


And so will you.


Robert, Charles and other families suffering from such a devastating loss, your beautiful children died but know that you will resurrect your life from the shadows of sadness and find acceptance and peace one day.   

I know it seems impossible now, but you will begin to reclaim joy and feel happiness again one step at a time... and you will survive... I promise.


Navigating loss is not an easy journey, but you are on the path to healing now. This is your story of triumph, even with all the bumps, and turns, and falls. You have no choice but to walk the stepping stones of grief, because you owe it to your child to heal. 

And you will.

With love and prayers, Sandy


If you or someone you know is struggling with the tragic loss of a child, please consider my book titled "How to Survive the Worst that can Happen…A Parent's Step by Step Guide to Healing After Losing a Child." Forward Written by Melissa Gilbert. Released in February, 2014 by Balboa Press, A Division of Hay House. Here's the link on Amazon "How to Survive the Worst That Can Happen" and the link on Balboa Press and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Miracles Really Happen




Learning How to Invite Miracles into Your Life
©Sandy Peckinpah 2013



I was raised in the Presbyterian Church, and yet I am not sure what I really believed about heaven. I never had to know. I know for sure, I believed if I was a good girl, nothing bad would ever happen.




I was so very young when I formed my vision of Heaven. It was the great unknown city above the clouds where God lived. My Grandma told me God greeted all the people who die at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. And, my Grandma’s name was Pearl, so I thought she must have been someone really special.
Then she died, and I felt like there was so much more I needed to know from her and now, I could never ask. Like, how she made her applesauce and why did she want me to read the Bible? I pictured her arriving at her gates…the Pearly Gates, and everyone would know her because she was Pearl.
The image of heaven I had created as a little girl, followed me as I grew into a woman, a wife, and then a mother. When my beautiful boy died suddenly of bacterial meningitis, the surreal image of the Pearly Gates didn’t matter because all of my beliefs were thrown into chaos. I asked, “How can I know if there’s a God? Where is heaven?” I demanded. “Is there really an afterlife? Is my Grandma there?”
These are all questions we, as intelligent adults may have at different times in our lives, but never was it more profound than when my child died. My beautiful beloved 16-year old son, Garrett was missing from this earth and I wanted to know why.
Was I angry with God? You bet. How could He have allowed this to happen to me? I did everything right and yet I lost my child! A child! How could that have happened to such a “good girl?”
The truth is, why not me? Others have lost children and they were “good girls” too.
I realized my perceived belief system collided with real human experience.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest

In this story I will be sharing with you a truly remarkable miracle that changed my life forever, but at this point in time, I had just lost my beautiful son and I was forced to re-examine my faith. 
Step One: Did I believe in God? Yes.
Step Two: Was I open to the possibility that God exists and has a plan for my life? Yes.
Step Three: Was I willing to acknowledge that sometimes the human experience involves getting sick, sometimes dying, or having a tragic accident? Yes., reluctantly.
Step Four: Am I able to survive such tragic loss? I didn’t think so, but, yes, yes, and yes, because at that point in my life, it wasn’t about me, I would just as soon die than feel the pain. But this was about love. Love for my husband and my living children. 

And so… I chose to be open to and believe in the possibility that there really is something above those clouds called heaven. A place where my beautiful boy crossed through the Pearlie Gates and met his Grandma Pearl for the very first time and felt the comfort of her soft squishy embrace.
Faith was all I had. When you lose your child, you absolutely have to implement faith as a lifeline. I couldn’t do it alone. I questioned God and Heaven and Creation , but if I believed in nothing, I was lost.
The “knowing” that there is a God, goes beyond intellect. As a mother, I could look at the miracle that was created inside of me.  Together with my husband, we created a child. Is that a miracle explained simply by chance?
Sometimes we think…give me a sign. But isn’t a child being born, sign enough that there is something much greater than we can ever fathom?
Science can tell you the story of how it happened, but how does it happen that the body is formed from one chance moment in time, where tiny cells meet and become human. Those little cells joyfully joined together and gave me a child. And that is a miracle.
Just as birth is a miracle, so is death. Just as you know someone is in the next room, even though he’s not with you; God is present. And so is my child. We are all made of energy, and energy never dies.
On the Friday before my first Mother’s Day without my child, my heart was heavy with grief. I picked up my young children from school and headed to Gelson’s for groceries. I wanted to prepare a dinner that would involve a lot of “doing” in order to numb myself from the pain.  I decided on Fresh Vegetable Pasta. It involved lots of chopping, grilling and sautĂ©ing.
As we perused the grocery aisles, the kids were throwing things into the basket, and I was blind to it. One bag of groceries turned into six, but I didn’t care.
A young man (who was a friend of my son) carefully bagged the groceries, and offered to take them out to the car. As we walked, I asked him about his college plans. He talked about the entertainment industry. As he closed the trunk, I slipped him a tip and thanked him. I watched him walk away with his dreams intact. He was alive. His parents could watch him become a man. 
I was embarrassed to feel such awe followed by anger.
“I have to make a stop, before we go home.” The children heard my voice tremble, and it made them quiet during the ride.
I pulled into the cemetery at dusk. I slowly drove the familiar road through the grounds. I noticed lots of new flowers at some of the plots. Must be for all the Moms, I thought.
I parked.
“Why don’t you start your homework in the car? I’ll be right back. I opened the trunk and pulled out the basket, fully stocked at all times with paper towels, marble cleaner, a scrubbing brush, plant shears, and a spray bottle of water. 

It was a familiar ritual I’d begun as soon as Garrett was buried. I was robbed of the years ahead tending to folding his clothes, straightening his room, and picking up dirty socks. I transferred my duties to keeping his gravesite impeccable.
Every day, I brought my basket to snip, scrub, and clean his “new room.” It gave me time to talk to him, alone, and to care for him.
As I approached the grave, I could feel my teary eyes stinging against the cool night breeze. I threw my basket down and fell to my knees in front of Garrett’s stone and began to cry.
“Mother’s Day is coming Garrett, and you’re not here, dammit! I’m so angry with you for leaving me! I don’t know how to do this.”
I tried to keep my body straight so the children wouldn’t see how distraught I was. But sometimes I was just exhausted from having to be so strong.
I sprayed water onto the stone and used the brush to scrub the letters of his name. I wiped it clean, then polished. The strands of grass were still neat and tidy from yesterday’s visit.
“Please Garrett, please let me know you’re with me. I gave life to you! Tell me, you’re here, tell me…” I cried, hoping for a magical response. I waited, none came.
I shifted to see the children watching me from the car. Call to duty. Straighten up. Be your best for them. I packed up my tools.
I kissed my fingers and touched his stone, stood up and walked back stoically.
We got home to a dark house. I flicked on the kitchen lights and saw the message button flashing on the answering machine. I pushed it. My husband’s voice played, “Hi Sandy, I’m gonna be a little late tonight. Go ahead and feed the kids. Love you.”
Damn, a nice family dinner was supposed to heal the wounds of today. I abandoned my plans for the pasta and decided on tacos. I had everything left over from the night before.
Trevor came into the kitchen, “ I’m hungry, now.”
“I’m fixing dinner as fast as I can, sweetie.”
“But I’m hungry, now. Can’t I just have a popsicle?”
 “No Trevor, I’m fixing tacos.”
Tacos? He protested,  “We had those last night.”
Julianne came bounding in. I sat Jackson in the high chair and handed him a fistful of Cheerios. Patience.
“I have a good idea. Both of you. Go clean your rooms! Now! They’re a mess! When you’re done, dinner will be ready.”
They retreated meekly to their rooms.
Sandy…Patience. I began to pull out everything for tacos. I poured oil into a frying pan and waited for it to sizzle.
Silly. I could have bought the pre-made crispy tacos, they wouldn’t have cared. Garrett would have, though. He was always my picky eater. Garrett…Mother’s Day…empty….my thoughts spiraled out of control.
            “Mom….Mom…” I lifted myself from the daze to see Trevor beside me. He was clutching a hand made card. I looked at him and touched his face. “I’m sorry, honey, I’m just really missing your brother right now.”
            “Mom…” holding the card, his hand began to tremble. “I found this stuck behind the desk drawer when I was cleaning it out.”
Trevor had asked for Garrett’s old desk. We moved it into Trevor’s room a few days before.
I took the card from his hand. It was Garrett’s handwriting.
“What is this, honey?” I asked. I began to read it aloud.
”Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!” 
I looked at Trevor, dumbfounded. I opened the card Garrett had written and read:
Mom, you are a very special person-you really are.
Who else could write 2 books and raise 4 kids at the same time?!
A big heart is needed to do both of those things,
And a big heart is what you have.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom
I love you very much,
Love, Garrett
Trevor said in disbelief, “He must have written it before he died, Mom.”

“But he died at Christmas! “ I said in awe.
A feeling of peace filled all those empty places in my soul. Garrett heard me, he’s truly here, I thought.
“Trevor, thank you for finding this, you’ve given me a wonderful gift.” Trevor smiled so sweetly. I hugged him close.
“I love your tacos, Mom,” he said sheepishly.
Julianne joined in. “Me too! I could eat them every night!”
My husband opened the door…. Hey family! What’s for dinner? “
Tacos!” they all replied.
“Good,” David said, “I love tacos.”
The grilled vegetable pasta would be just fine for tomorrow.
Miracles are postcards from heaven, and I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is, in fact, a place above the clouds where my beloved child entered through the Pearly Gates, and he wants me to know, “Mom, it’s beautiful there.”


Stepping Stones: Building Faith and Recognizing Miracles
“If you lose your expectation, you lose your potential for a miracle.”
-Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastor of The Potter’s House Church
         Build faith by opening your mind and your heart to miracles. You may have them in the form of dreams, nature, even a song on the radio.
The Zen Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, says death is like a cloud in the sky. When it disappears, it doesn’t mean the cloud has died. The cloud continues in another form like rain or snow.
If you look up to the sky and the cloud is no longer there, the sky is just showing you a new way of looking at the cloud. Don’t be sad, the cloud is now rain that waters your garden.
So now you must plant a garden and watch the flowers grow. When you see the flowers in full bloom, you gather them and make a bouquet for your kitchen table.
The next day you can photograph them or paint them. Frame your photograph or painting and hang it on your wall and know that every time you look at it, it will remind you of the beauty of your child in a new form.
Do you see how you are the creator of your future, now?
Miracles will begin coming your way when you commit to faith and start to believe they are possible. These exercises will pave the way.
·      Invite miracles into your life. When they happen, be grateful and say a prayer of thanks. Then invite more miracles to arrive.
·      In a quiet room, close your eyes and visualize someone you’ve lost, even a beloved pet. Tears may fall from your eyes, but that’s okay. Those are tears of connection.
·      Now ask your beloved to give you a gift, a miracle.
·      Stay with the picture in your mind, and tell them you will be fine. Tell them tears are not a storm of sadness, but a shower of love.
·      Ask them to visit in your dreams.
·      Now say goodbye and open your eyes.
·      In your workbook/journal, document this day.
·      Always write down your miracles and express gratitude. Even as small as finding a “penny from heaven.” They will begin to multiply.
Throughout the days ahead, start noticing things like rainbows, stones, birds, and things that represent your loved one. 
My son used to pick a single white rose for me on the way home from school. Whenever I see a single white rose, I think Garrett? Is that you? 
And somehow the rose seems to open out to me and in its beauty says...“I love you, Mom.” 
And that is the power of a miracle.





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