Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Son Of A......$#@%^

For those of you who read The Grief 365 Badge, this is the unexpected 4am follow up.  For those of you just tuning in, go and do your homework. Just kidding! My family will not be together this Thanksgiving Day.  My father had to work, my brother will go to his in laws house, my family has flown south with my in laws, to Florida to escape, and my mother will be having the time of her life spending Thanksgiving in heaven. 
   The 4yo loved flying for the first time. We touched down in sunny Florida and had a great first day.  We hit two local restaurants, hit the phenomenal garden tub in our room for an extended scalding hot, smut reading, during nappietime soak, hit the shops on the boardwalk, and daddy took the 4yo swimming.  We all went to bed early and fell sound asleep.  I, as usual, woke up at 3:30am to hobble to the bathroom, on my crutches.  I got a drink of water, laid back down, and son of a bitch, it hit me.  All the memories came flooding back  all at once.  The very memories I have been trying to escape this holiday season.
   The call. The call that I received from my father early in the morning , on the 21st of November, 2011.  The call that would start the ball in motion, and that would mark the beginning of the events that would forever change my life.  The memory of my father's voice, his words markedly different this time.  The memory or rushing to the hospital as fast as I could.  The memory of the state my mother was in.  The memory of how pitifully frail she looked sitting in the Emergency Room hospital bed.  The memory that I will cherish for all time.  The one where I felt a sudden overwhelming need to tell my mother I loved her, like she had done for me so many times when I needed to hear her words.  The same one where I remember trying to put all the feeling I had for her in it to make it convey how very much I loved her, because I somehow innately knew she needed to hear it this time more than any other.  And then the part where she smiles and raises my hand that is holding hers to her lips, and kisses my hand.  Then the part that kills me every time.  The part where she kisses my hand slowly, and leaves her lips pressed against my hand, and inhales.  As if she was memorizing my scent and the texture of my hand, and cherishing just being that close to me one last time, cherishing her precious daughter.  A last stolen moment just between us.  I immediately knew.  I knew this was the last time my mother would kiss my hand.  As I have said before, I HATE forshadowing.  This was the biggest smack you in the face and take your breath away instance of foreshadowing I have ever had.  Tears immediately ran unchecked down my face.  I tried to be sneaky and hide them from her.  She had been the family matriarch for a long time, she was always the strong one.  This was this point, was when I realized it was my turn. 
   My turn to be the strong one, for her and for our family that was about to be irrepareably broken.
   The memory of my mother's last phone conversation with her son.  The memory of my daddy being more scared than I have ever seen him.  The memory of holding my mother's hand all day long.  The trip to the Medical Intesive Care Unit.  The memory of trying to act like nothing was wrong, and go along as we normally did on each and every one of her forty plus hospital visits.  Talking to her, regaling her with funny stories about my daughter, and holding her hand while she slept.  Talking about my brother, his bodybuilding competition trip to FL, and how she hoped he would get back safely but quickly.  The memory of her freezing under a mountain of blankets, hers and the hospitals.  The memory of my last hug from my mother, the last I love you spoken from her lips to me, her firstborn, while she still knew who I was.
  The four in the morning call, again.  This was the last call I would ever receive to meet my daddy at the hospital. This is the memory that gave me nightmares for months. The last call. The dreaded last call.  The memory of the words spoken from my father's lips.  Crashed.  Her heart stopped.  They got her back.  I need you.  I'm scared.  I'm really scared. Tears. Okay, I'll be right there. The memory of calling my Aunt whom my grandmother lives, on my way to the hospital.  The memory of having to be the bearer of bad news.   The memory of me thinking the rain on the way to the hospital was a bad sign, like God himself, was crying with me.
   The memory of my father walking out the back end of the MICU, to let me in, and us having a good cry together, so that we could face whatever the day may hold together.  A hug of camaraderie and love.  The bone dead look of complete mental and physical exhaustion, and such pain on my father's face.  The memory of her being hooked up to a machine that would shock her heart if it stopped beating again.  One of my most vivid memories, the code blue form on the heart cart. I even took a picture of it!  This is a form you never want to see, let alone spend an entire day sitting beside, with the the threat of what it implies looming over you while you pray. The memory of her finally waking up a little from being unresponsive, to remember her name and birthday.  To answer every question the doctors and nurses asked her with her name and birthday.  The first word croaked out after semi-waking,"blankets."  The memory of her occasionally jerking her hand away from mine. The heart stopping and heartbreaking realization when quizzing her about her family, that she did not remember us.  Any of us.  She did not know who I was.  But I knew exactly who she was. My mother.  The woman I loved most in all the world. The woman who brought me into and guided me through this world.  The greatest woman, mother, friend, and human being that I've ever had the pleasure and honor of knowing.
   So I spent the afternoon telling her all the cherished stories of her life.  I told her about her wonderful husband who had taken such great care of her, and never left her side. I told her about her children, her cherished granddaughter, and grandson on the way.  I told her about her mother, father, brother, and sister.  I told her about how she and her mother were best friends, and once I came along, we three were unseparable.  I  spent the hours doing what she had prepared me for my whole life.  It seemed as natural as rain and the tears coursing down my cheeks. 
   The first time the machine shocked her heart, I almost had a cow.  Nothing prepares you for that sound.  It was a sound I heard many times that day.  Seriously, you couldn't have warned me what it was going to sound like?  And that it would likely kick on multiple times?  I know my daddy is a dahktah, and I was raised practically in a hospital, but geesh!  It became a normal part of the flow for the day.  The memory of the emergency dialysis to try and help pull the infection out.  The memory of it not helping.  The memory of the nurse repeatedly returning and informing me(us)that the level of infection in her system kept going up.  The memory of two of my dear friends Angie and Michelle, coming to visit my mother one last time.  The memory of the one time I stepped out of her room to pee, that something went wrong with her breathing again.  The memory of the last time I saw my mother's beautiful green eyes open on her own, confused and in bewilderment.  The memory of my mother startling awake multiple times and looking to the ceiling.  The memory of me wondering if she was seeing her angel(s) and or her loved ones.  The memory of me wondering if everything she believed in was true.  The memory of my brother and pregnant sister in law arriving in her room.  The memory of me reintroducing her son and her husband to her.  The memory of me telling her he made it.  The memory of truly believing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she waited for him. That she waited to see her precious, beloved baby boy one more time.
   The memory of leaving the hospital to go home, and the pouring rain.  I can remember thinking that the rain was appropriate, because all our souls were drowning in tears and heartache. The memory of crying all the way home to my husband and my child.  The memory of calls to my Aunts on the drive home updating them on mom's progress report.  The memory of the call a short two hours later, to return to the hospital, that she had crashed again on the way back fron an x-ray, and it didn't look good, that she was barely alive.  The memory of  rushing back to the hospital in the rain, trying not to break down into a full blown crying jag, as my mother used to call them!  The memory of calling my Aunt and Uncle, to let them know what was going on.  The memory of walking into the hospital, each step leaden as if each one was one step closer to sealing her fate.  The memory of the scene upon turning down the MICU corridor, filled with dad, my brother and sister in law, and mom's two nursing helpers and friends, Stella and Sandy, and dad's friend Dave, a hospital adminstrator.  The memory of looking down the corridor and seeing her intubated, and on all kinds of machines. The memory of daddy telling me that this was probably it, the day we had all secretly, in the back of our minds dreaded for so very long.  The memory of the countless staff members in her room, manually hand pumping her heart to try to save her, when her heart stopped again.  The memory of getting a calm peaceful feeling at 11:18, after the attempts to save her went on for almost an hour, that we should make the call to stop pumping at 11:22 on 11-22-11. That she was already slipping away, and did not want to be on machines if there was no hope.  The memory of having to tell dad my feeling, essentially being the one to make the call.  The memory of having a morbid sense of having to be there, by her side, as she passed away.  I had to be with her every single second.  She was the the first to hold my hand when I came into this world, and I wanted to be the last to comfort her, and hold her hand as she slipped out of it.
   The memory of being the one to make the calls to family, relatives, and loved ones, talk to the staff about where to send her body, and the one who cried as I held every member of my family as we all howled, cried and express our deepest grief.  The memory of my brother bending down to whisper his unborn child's name into her ear, before she passed.  She was the first and only one to know.  It remained a secret until he was born.  The memory of my father walking me out to my car in the rain after.  The memory of deciding along with my brother, that my father was coming to one of our houses, he was not going to be alone.  The memory of the excruciating drive home.
   Then there are the firsts.   The memory of the first night without her.  The memory of having to tell my baby.  The memory of the first morning without her.  The memory of the first time this giant black hole opened up inside of me, and drowning in the vortex of pain that sucks the very life out of you.  The memories of my close friends, Angie and Debbie, who were there for me, when she suddenly died a day and fourteen minutes before Thanksgiving.  The cards, calls, flowers, angels, blankets, plaques, food, oh the mountain of food, and people that were there.  The memory of my husband cooking our first Thanksgiving Day dinner without her.  The menu she and I had planned on the phone a few short days before.  The memory of my house becoming the gathering place, neutral ground for my broken grieving family, for the first WVU tailgate with out her.  The memory of the trip to the house with daddy to pick out their clothes, her new lucky WVU socks, her makeup, her perfume, and her jewelry.  The memory of ordering the casket flowers and pillows with daddy.  The memory of going to the graveyard with my bff to pay for their services.  The memory of good friends Libby Chad and Amy, Mexican food, margaritas, bff Julie coming all the way from Beckley to babysit, and midnight black Friday shopping with Amy.   The memory of my in laws coming home early from vacation to be there for me.  The memory of my wonderful husband doing anything and everything I needed, and the things I didn't know I needed; taking care of me while I took care of my family.  The memory of Erin bringing her daughter up to play with my 4yo, and being the first to get a preview.  The all girls make-up party plus Doc Cha, entertaining me while I did my mother's makeup.  The memory of the funeral director thinking we(I) was crazy or on drugs.  The memory of my family seeing my mother before the wake.  The memory of my brother holding my father while walking him up the aisle to her casket.  The memory of my mother's beloved Rainbow Girls each and every one showing up to do a special memorial just for my mother.  The memory of my sunrise my mother sent to me, and the peace she flooded me with to be able to get through the wake, and greet everybody, and not break down into a sobbing mess.   The funeral day sunrise, again in her favorite colors purple and yellow.  The memories, so many, many memories.  And then there was the first Christmas shopping, and our first Christmas without her.  The memory of their first anniversary not spent together in 33 years of marriage on New Years Eve and Day.  The memories of first Valentines day, and my father's and brother's first birthdays without her.   The first Easter my mother wasn't here to take my daughter for Easter pictures, or to eat Easter dinner together.,  The memory of the first anniversary my mother did not call to tell me Happy Anniversary on.  My father's first beach trip without her.  The memory of moving to Kentucky, and not being able to call and tell her.  The birth of my brother's son without her there.  My and my daughter's first birthday's without her calling to wish us a Happy Birthday, going out to dinner, shopping, and my daughter's own special birthday party at Gran Gran's.  It has been a year of learning how to deal with seeing her everywhere and in everything.  It has been so very hard.
  There has been a mountain of new memories and firsts without her in the past year, since her passing.  It does not seem like it could have been a year already, and at the same time it feels like forever since I have been with her and close to her.  She lives on in my heart forever.  So I have done it, I have taken these precious and hard memories out, I have cried all day, I have mourned.  But I have also had fun today too, in between the tears.  I think that's what it is all about.  After a year without her, I have learned that there is a time for fun, and a time to remember, a time to mourn and let yourself grieve, and a time to remember happy memories fondly.  I have learned that surprise attack days will happen when you least expect them, and hard marked days, like holidays and birthdays will be both happy and sad, but bittersweet.  So this afternoon, in my mother's memory, I delivered 61(her age) tootsie roll pops to the restaurant across the street from out hotel.  The Cafe Shanty Shack(South Beach Shanty Shack) will hand out suckers in memory of my mother until they are all gone.  They all have a tag that reads; In Memory of Carla J. Wright, 10-14-50 to 11-22-11.  This has helped me honor her memory this first year anniversary without her. 61 people will know that she was here, and that she was important, and that someone wanted those 61 people to know how wonderful she was.  Rest In Peace my dearest mother.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Grief 365 Badge

Well dear readers, I apologize for not having written lately.  I have been a bit tongue tied.  With the impending first anniversary of my mother's death, I have been purposefully been avoiding digging too deep.  I have had a couple of crying fits, and have been trying not to remember the details of the days leading up to the day of her death.  Those memories find a way of creeping in anyway.Well, today is the day I am ripping the band aid off.  No more avoiding writing about the first anniversary. 
   I had a friend suggest finding a creative way to memorialize the date, and her.  Make it a fun or happy memory, filled with things she loved, or good memories of her.  I liked this idea, since I have been secretly dreading this day for weeks.  Of course it had to fall on Thanksgiving this year.  I noticed the date of Thanksgiving for 2012, last year right after she passed away.  So you could say it has been in the back of my mind, or I have been dreading it since right after she passed away.
   The first year after a death of a loved one is filled with firsts.  Everything is a new first without them.  Nothing will ever be the same again.  You get used to a new functioning normal.  When I say functioning  normal, I mean a precariously fragile state where you are on the verge of tears all of the time, but are pressing on with life. That is what they would want you to do.  Where the simplest thing can break open the dam of sadness you have been fighting to hold back.  Where a sunset, a song, a picture, a decoration, a favorite phrase,  a rainbow, fall leaves on the trees, a blanket bought for your child, a call from another loved one sharing their grief could  all knock you from your precarious position of functioning,  right back into the depths of your grief.  How do you ever get through it?  You soldier on.  You tell yourself that the loved one wouldn't want you to be so sad.  You go through all the stages of grief; numbness, denial, pain, anger, helplessness, and sadness. You tell yourself she would want it this way, and this is how she used to do things.
    Eventually you get to a point where you can talk about them without breaking down into a blubbering grief monster.  You can remember the good and funny times without quite so bad a longing. My favorite memory lately has become one of my mother in a hospital shower, one of the many of her forty some odd hospitalizations.  It was a day where I had gone to visit and spend the day with her.  She had asked me the day before if I would mind helping her get a shower.  She had designated that day as shower day.  I helped her get a shower, and wash and rinse her hair with a Slurpee cup to get the soap all out.  I told her shower stories of bathing my then two and a half year old, and using a Slurpee cup to rinse her hair as well.  We talked about my showers when I was two, three and four. She was so very grateful to have me help her with her shower, not a stranger.  I helped her rinse and soap her feet, and washed her back.  It makes me smile to know what simple pleasures I brought my mother by helping her shower.  This is something I did quite often.  I would help her shower and "put on smell good"for my daddy.  This memory brings me comfort, no matter how strange it may seem.  Any of the myriad of memories, and I pick a shower scene!  Those of you who knew my mother(and her obsession with being clean) and know me, understand how morbidly perfect this is!
   And then there are those days.  The days that no matter how hard you fight it, the grief comes pouring out.  You get better and more seasoned, so to speak, at hiding your grief, and compartmentalizing it, but then one of those days, comes along and knocks you on your ass.  The days where you leak all day, remembering.  The days where you sob and sob, and take to your bed to mourn, because there is nothing else you can do. The pain never gets any easier, I think we all just learn how to deal with it better.  We get better at dealing with the all consuming, mind numbing, raw pain involved with losing a parent, especially one with whom we were close.  Everyone deals with grief differently, but for me it has been one of the hardest things I will ever have to do in this life.
    I promised my mother that I would never let her grand-daughter forget her.  So I decided on a couple of things to memorialize her on the one year anniversary.  My father has to work on Thanksgiving this year.  My husband, daughter, and I decided to fly to Florida for the holiday with his parents.  We will be visiting more of his family while we are there. My daughter and I are writing letters to my mother, and her Granny, one year after losing her.  We are putting them in bottles, and when we are on the pier, we plan on throwing the bottles into the water.  We are including our return addresses in case anyone ever finds them, a la Message In A Bottle.  My mother also loved children.  She worked tirelessly with a children's youth group she was in when she was younger, as an adult advisor, sponsor and friend.  Not to mention all of my brother's and my friends that she cared for.  Our house was THE place to go!  Slumber parties and WWF central was our house.  So I also liked the idea of giving out sixty one suckers(her age when she died) to children, with a memorial tag remembering her.  So we'll see if I get arrested or not trying to give out suckers to unsuspecting children on Thanksgiving! Hopefully not!
  So I bawled the whole time I was writing this, and while telling my father my plans.  He has to work, and it is probably better that he keep busy caring for people.  He liked my ideas.  I am glad. 
   So a year later, we are doing okay.  We still miss you like crazy mom, but we are living life.  It seems so strange to say a year later.  A whole year without you in it. It almost feels like a big sigh of relief, like I have earned my grief 365 badge.  It is a badge I would give back in a heartbeat, if I could have one more second, hour, day, month, or year with you. But I know that I cannot. But I have realized, that you are in it, in every moment, and always will be.  You are always with each of us, in everything we do. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Believe; Wind Chimes, Sunrises, and Rainbows

     Have you ever seen a rainbow? During that period when the rain hasn't quite yet stopped, when the sun comes out?  It is God's promise to his people, that he will never again destroy the world.  I have seen many rainbows over the years.  I was in a youth organization called The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls.  It's main symbol was the rainbow.  The rainbow was always special to me because of my membership in this special  fraternal youth organization.  My mother and I would always look for the rainbows in the sky after the rain. It was one of our special things we did together.  This was an organization that my mother and I got to participate in together.  It was a special time for us, and for all the young girls to whom she became both a mentor and friend.
  My father, daughter and I, went to Tennessee on a mini vacation. To have some family bonding time, and to pass the days until my broken leg healed.  On the way to Tennessee, it started raining.  On the way to Gatlinburg, we saw ten rainbows.  Yes,  I said ten different rainbows.  I have never seen more than three at one time in my thirty eight years on this earth, let alone ten.  Many of these rainbows were the brightest, widest, and longest I have ever seen.  But I get ahead of myself.
   Now I don't know how you feel about those from heaven, or from beyond, or from wherever they come sending signs, or contacting you, but I believe.  I believe those rainbows were sent from or on behalf of my mother, and I will tell you why.
   After my now husband and I, began dating, he met my grandfather.  My grandfather was in the hospital , and I took my now husband to meet him.  My grandfather passed away a short while later.  My "Pawpaw", as I called him, was always giving out some form advice or another.  Well of course, advice towards my boyfriend was no exception.  He told me,"If you can't be the tablecloth darling, don't be the dishrag!"  Okay, I will give you that my Pawpaw was a fiesty old character, but I remembered his advice.  On my first Christmas visit to his mother's house for our first family Christmas together, I became overcome with emotion.  I excused myself, and stepped out on the porch.  It was a very quiet night, having snowed earlier in the day.  There was no wind, but it was bitter cold.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I had a good cry because I was so happy, and then something happened that stopped me in my tracks.  I looked up to the sky, on this cold, windless night, and spoke to my grandfather.  I said, "Look Pawpaw, I'm not the dishrag anymore!"  Immediately the wind chimes hanging on the porch in front of me started clanging back and forth.  Mind you not all the wind chimes on the porch, just the one set in front of me.  There was still no wind, and I was not pushing or blowing on them.  It was not snowing or raining either.There is not a doubt in my mind that was my Pawpaw saying to me,"I see baby girl, I see!"   I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, in my heart of hearts, that it was my Pawpaw. There is no other logical explanation to explain it away.  Call me crazy if you will, but I believe.
   My mother died unexpectedly last fall.  The night she died I came home around two in the morning, after calling all the appropriate people, and making arrangements of where she was to be sent.  I was sobbing in my husbands arms on the couch, when I suddenly heard, we both heard my daughter giggling in her sleep.  She repeated the giggling several times.  I dreaded telling my baby the next morning, that her beloved Gran Gran had went to be with Jesus.  When I woke her the next morning, she told me that she had a dream about Granny.  She said Granny was with the angels.  I then told her what had happened.  There is not a doubt in my mind that my mother came to tell my daughter she was with the angels now, that she was going to be okay.
  My mother dying last November, left me with big shoes to fill.  I was running around like crazy.  The whole family went to the funeral home to pick out the casket, discuss the obituary, and to attend to all the other minor details that the death of a person entails.  She passed away a day and fourteen minutes before Thanksgiving.  My husband cooked the Thanksgiving dinner  that my mother and I had discussed on the phone, for my grieving and broken family.  Then the next day I went with my father to help him pick out her dress, jewelry, her makeup, and his clothes for the wake and funeral. We also stopped at the florist to order the casket spray and little pillows from her loved ones.  It was a tough day.  I then had one of my best friends go with me to the cemetery, to take care of business, and then back to the funeral home to honor her last request of me. 
   A few weeks before she unexpectedly passed away, she asked me if when something happened to her, I would do her makeup.  My mother was one of those beautiful women, who did not go anywhere without her makeup done, her hair fixed, or without all of her jewelry.  She said since she taught me how to put on makeup, that I was the only one she trusted not to make her look like a clown.  Of course I agreed to this request.  Assuming and telling her that it was going to be a long while before I would need to honor it.  Little did I know, that a few short weeks was all.  So my friend and I go to the funeral home armed with her bag of makeup, her favorite picture of her recent self, her underwear, dress, her new lucky WVU socks, that she never got to wear, and her perfume.  Call me morbid, call me crazy, call me strong, I did my mother's makeup.  Just the way she taught me.  My friend was one of her 'girls' from our youth group as well, and we all joked that mom was up in heaven laughing at us.  We carried on, remembering her and funny things she had done.  It was like old times at the youth group slumber parties, that we always had at our house. About halfway through her makeup, another youth group girl that was one of my momma's 'girls', stopped by and joined the party at the funeral home.  She brought her husband, who is in medical school, so we did not bother him a bit.  We laughed and had a good time together remembering her, and celebrating her, just like she would have wanted.
   So the morning of the wake, I was awoken at sunrise to this bright, brilliant light, streaming through my window.  Now normally morning sunlight does not just come streaming through my window.  And normally I don't just 'get up' at sunrise. I sleep through anything most of the time.  Something told me to get up.  So I got up, and looked outside.  I do not have the words to describe what I saw.  It was a sky filled with the most beautiful shades of purple and yellow, my mother's favorite colors.  I grabbed the camera, and threw my husband's shoes on, and ran outside.  I started snapping.  I was awestruck.  A sense of such peace and joy filled me.  At that moment I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt it was my mother sending this to me.  This beautiful sunrise between me and her.  It was her way of letting me know she was proud of me for leading my broken family through this most difficult time.  That I was doing good.  The purple and yellow clouds surrounded my house, and lasted almost forty minutes. Again, it was loud and clear to me.  I believe.  I know she is in heaven rejoicing, and she wanted me to know!  I had also had a conversation with her the last day my baby and I spent at her house with her putting up the Christmas tree, less than a week before she passed away.  She mentioned something about dying soon, that she was ready, and I told her that she was being silly, but if she should ever pass away, that she had better keep in touch! 
   There were almost four hundred people at her service.  My mother was a very well loved individual.  The next morning I again woke at sunrise, and there was another purple and yellow sunrise, although in more muted shades than the day before, and that magnificent display.  I was again flooded with a sense of peace.  I truly believe that it was my momma sending me peace to help me get through those two days.  These sunrises helped me get through a few of the most difficult days of my life.  I believe that I had a little help from above.
   So back to the rainbows.  We had seen ten rainbows over the course of two hours.  My daughter said we were in rainbow alley.  I got chills after the first rainbow.  It took my breath away. It had all seven colors, bright as a neon sign.  I also got that cool, flooding sense of peace that my mother sends me.  It was the biggest, brightest, and widest rainbow I have ever seen.  Then there were more.  There were bright rainbows, double rainbows, and glimpses of rainbows peeking out from the clouds.  I told my father that I thought it was my mother telling us she was approving of our bonding trip!  He wholeheartedly agreed, and we both leaked a little.  He stopped at Starbucks for coffee, and the rainbows had all but faded when he returned to the car.  I told him again, it was definitely mom.  As we drove out of the parking lot onto the main  road, I'll be doggoned, there was another one right smack dab in front of us.  Loud and clear mom, loud and clear.
  Just a couple of weeks ago, I smelled my mother in my living room.  It was her unmistakable scent.  That was all it was.  Just a whiff of her perfume.  I found that a little odd.  It made me wonder though.  Was it just my imagination?  Some spilled koolaid on the floor? I do not know.
   In closing, I will tell you, I believe. People in my family have had similar experiences. They do not think I am crazy. Does it run in our family? Yes.  Does it happen to everybody? No.  I can only say that it has happened to me, and has happened in my family to other people as well. I cannot speak for them, but I can say that I am glad to have had these experiences with my loved ones.  So call me crazy if you will, or believe with me if you dare!  Just thought I would share.