Kimberly W's ADC 1753
It was August 30, 2006 and there it was. The article on fatal off-campus house fires was on the front page of that day’s edition of USA TODAY. I had been so pleased to receive a call, some three weeks earlier, from a reporter working on the story. They had done extensive research on all the fatal off-campus house fires across the US since 2000, and the article would run just in time for college students who were moving into off-campus housing for the upcoming school year.
It was everyone’s hope that this article would keep other college kids from making the mistakes of, not only my daughter Liz, but of the 61 other college kids who had lost their lives due to fire in their off-campus homes. Prevention was key and I was glad to play a small part in doing whatever I could to keep other families from experiencing the devastating loss of a vibrant young adult.
When I found out the article was going to print, I excitedly emailed all of my friends and family to tell them about it and that Liz’s picture would be included.
I stopped at the store on my way to work that morning and bought three copies of the paper. I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to get to my desk so I could read that article. But, once I did, it made me so sad. The senselessness of Liz’s death hit me again in such a powerful way, and it felt like September 20, 2003 all over again. I guess I should have expected that kind of reaction, but it had taken me by surprise and I was having a very difficult time dealing with all of the raw, painful emotion that once again bubbled up and grabbed me.
I was also very mad at myself. How naïve could you be, I thought to myself? How could you possibly think that this article would make you happy?
Suddenly, I wished it had never been published and I threw the papers on the back credenza of my office and tried hard to put it out of my mind. But I couldn’t, because all day long I had a steady stream of co-workers stopping at my desk to see the article, and it was all I could do to keep my composure.
I was having a sad day. I hadn’t had one of “those” days for quite some time and I just figured I was due. I’ll get through it, I told myself, because tomorrow will always be better. It was something I had dealt with before in the three years since her passing, and it always worked. You had to feel the pain before it would leave I had learned.
I focused on my job and tried hard to put the article out of my mind. I work with International customers at my company. Because of the time difference, email is the accepted means of communication. I had taken this position just three weeks after Liz’s death and it had been the perfect job for me. The stress level was low; I could come in, answer the emails I received, and go home. I thanked God often for giving me such a wonderful job at just the right time.
I continued to work through my emails. Suddenly a familiar email address popped up. It was Liz’s high school French teacher. Jan had been Liz’s favorite teacher, and we had kept in touch after her death. I had shared my news about the USA TODAY article with her, and I assumed that was what her email to me was about.
Much to my surprise it wasn’t about the article at all. Kim, she said, you will just treasure this. I was in my classroom yesterday, cleaning out my files, getting ready for a new school year. A lone file folder fell on the floor. I reached down and picked it up and on the outside I read “Liz W Essay.” I opened it up and discovered an assignment I had given out over four years ago.
The assignment was to write a letter to one of your parents, in French, telling them what they represent in your life. Kim, this is a letter Liz wrote to you!
Now, I don’t speak French, so Jan translated it for me. That letter was a mother’s dream. In it Liz told me how much she loved and missed me in so many different ways. And, amazingly, even though the letter was written when Liz was in high school, it made complete sense for life after September 20, 2003.
Here is the English translation of the letter:
Assignment: Write a letter to your Mother or Father telling them what they represent in your life.
I know that you love me. You show me each day that it is true. Don’t think you are a bad mother. It isn’t true! When I look at you I realize how much I am loved.
When you are feeling bad, don’t forget --- I truly love you. I would like to be a better daughter. We argue sometimes and that makes me sad. I feel bad and unhappy if you cry.
I remember when I was little and you would hug me and say, “I love you so much, Lizzie, sit here with me for just a little while. Those times were so special for me and you made me so happy. I felt like nothing could ever hurt me. I use to wish those moments would never end. To be cuddled up next to you like that today would be like a dream come true.
Mom, I feel sad when you feel sad. And, when you are happy, I am happy! You are my mother and I would never choose anyone else. Without you, I would never be who I am.
I love you with all my heart.
Suddenly what had been a very difficult day became a completely amazing day, and I was once again emailing all of my friends and family to share this wonderful letter with them.
Jan brought the folder and the letter to my house that night. As she put it in my hands, she said to me, “You have got to know this was no accident.” I said, “Oh Jan, believe me I do know that.” She went on to tell me that she remembered telling Liz what a beautiful letter it was, and she had encouraged her to share it with me. She even remembered what Liz’s comment had been, “I will when the time is right.”
Receiving that letter was no coincidence. I believe with all my heart that my daughter is still with me and she knew I was having a difficult day. She reached out to let me know just how much she loves and misses me, just as I love and miss her.
That letter is now framed, with the French version on one side, a picture of Liz in the middle, and the English translation on the other, and it hangs in our living room. It is a constant reminder of the power of our love. That letter is visual proof for me that Liz reached out and touched me on a day when I needed it most.
Now, I am sure, I will have more sad days in the years to come. But when I do, all I have to do is read her letter and I will once again feel the strong bond that we will always share. It is a bond that can never be broken, not even by death.
Just as God’s love for
his children never changes, the love that my daughter and I share never
changes. It will live for all eternity.
Was this experience difficult to express in words? No
Did you ONLY sense an awareness of presence of the deceased without actually seeing, hearing, feeling or smelling them? Yes
Did you hear the deceased or hear something associated with the deceased? No
Did you feel a touch or experience any physical contact from the deceased? No
Did you see the deceased? No
Did you smell a distinct smell, scent, fragrance or odor associated with the deceased? No
Could you sense the emotions or mood of the deceased? Yes
How do you currently view the reality of your experience? Experience was definitely real
Please explain why you view the reality of your experience as real or not real: because receiving that letter on that day when I was in so much emotional pain was no accident. My daughter reached out and touched me in a way that is beyond imagination.
Was the experience dream like in any way? No
Describe in detail your feelings/emotions during the experience: what began as a very difficult day suddenly became a completely AMAZING day and I began to share this wonderful letter with my family and friends.
Was there any emotional healing in any way following the experience? Yes
I realized that my daughter is always with me and when I am hurting she knows it. She reached out to me that day and gave me something tangible that I will always have. Whenever I am sad and missing her, all I have to do is read that letter and the bond of love that we share bubbles up and grabs me again.
Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes Describe: Since my daughter's death I have become a writer and speaker
Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience? No Did the experience give you any spiritual understandings such as life, death, afterlife, God, etc.? N0 comment confirmed what I already knew
Death Compacts are when two or more living people promise among themselves that whoever dies first will try to contact the other(s). Have you ever made such a compact? No
my daughter was only 20 and her death was very unexpected. Two years before her death I got her to watch the TV Program Crossing Over with me. John Edward was giving out signs and messages to the audience members from their loved ones on the other side. I watched this show at every opportunity and completely believed in the possibility that spirit communication was real. My daughter watched me watch this show, so she knew how much I believed in spirit communication. I believe this played a vital role in her reaching out to me (and others) so quickly after her death ... and she still reaches out to us today, 6-1/2 years later.
Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later? Yes the evidence was receiving her letter when I did
What emotions did you feel during the experience? complete joy and exhilaration
Was the experience witnessed or experienced by others? Yes
I received an email from Liz's favorite high school teacher. She told me she had been in her classroom the previous day cleaning out files. A lone file folder fell on the floor. She picked it up and read "Liz Essay" on the outside. She opened the folder and discovered an assignment she had given out over 4 years ago that Liz had done. The assignment was to write a letter to one of your parents telling them what they represent in your life. Here was an absolutely beautiful letter my daughter had written to me. It was a parent's dream, and amazingly, even though the letter was written while Liz was in high school, it made complete sense for our lives after her death on 9-20-03.
Did you have any sense of altered space or time? No
Did you have a sense of knowing, special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose? No
Did you become aware of future events? No
Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body? No
Did you meet or see any other beings other than the deceased? No
Did you see a light? No
Did any part of your experience seem to occur in a place other than the location described above? No
Have you shared this experience with others? Yes at every opportunity. My story has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine 9/09, Midwest Caregiver magazine (12/08) and I share it whenever I am asked to speak about my journey with my daughter.
Have you shared this experience formally or informally with any other researcher or web site? Yes
I've shared this with Susan Apollon, website: touchedbytheextraordinary.com
and Dr. Lou LaGrand,
renowned grief educator
Is there anything else you would like to add regarding your experience? I have had many experiences - this letter is just the tip of the ice berg for me ... but it is the most amazing and wonderful experience I have had thus far.