Email from Sarah Choukalas of Arizona
My mom suddenly passed away in March of 2014. I was 12 weeks pregnant with my second child. Two very distinct things happened on the day of her death that let me know my mom was still with us, even though her physical self was gone. Many more have happened since.
My mom died in my childhood home while getting ready to come to my house to watch my daughter. (She had been her caregiver since my daughter was 6 weeks old and my husband and I went back to work.) When someone dies in the home, the emergency response team sends in a Crisis Response Team, and that day it consisted of two women. When they introduced themselves, my husband and I stared in shock…one of the women was named Sawyer. That was to be the name of our unborn child if we found out it was a boy. My mom knew our name choice and had maintained I was pregnant with a boy because it was a very different pregnancy from my first, a girl. My mom was telling us to expect a boy (which, two weeks later, we found out was true!)
That evening, after handling the funeral arrangements my family went to dinner. As we loaded up in our vehicle, I closed my door, and my daughter suddenly starts singing from the backseat, “I love you, yea, yea, yea! I love you, yea, yea, yea!” to the tune of the Beatles “She Loves You.” To my knowledge, my daughter had never heard that song, and since the words were different, I know it was my mom speaking through her.
Much later my mother-in-law shared with me that the day after my mom’s death, my daughter was staying with my mother-in-law and my daughter had three out-of-body experiences. The first time she fell onto her back on the bed, glassy eyed and repeated three times, “I can’t breathe” and was nonresponsive to my mother-in-law. The second time she fell on the floor, on her side with an arm under her head (how my dad found my mom when she died), and glassy eyed/unresponsive, repeated three times, “I can’t breathe.” The third and final time, she fell on her side, glassy eyed/unresponsive and took three large breaths in and out.
My mother had told close friends she wanted me to have a C-section with the birth of my son because I had such complications with my first. The day he was to be born, I was petrified because he was early and there were complications with labor. I suddenly felt her in the room, come up behind me, put her hands on my shoulders and just calm me. She didn’t say anything, just her presence was felt, and I immediately was comforted and ready for whatever happened. Moments later, my doctor came in to say they were going to do a C-section. My son was healthy, though early and spent weeks in the hospital, but he’s been fine ever since and is the sweetest, smiliest, cuddliest baby ever.
At Christmas, my mom’s brother’s wife found a Christmas card my mom had written her 43 years ago. (My aunt had made gift tags out of old Christmas cards, and when she pulled this particular one out, something told her to flip it over.)There was a note from my mom written to my aunt, but applying to present day. Saying she missed seeing us, she was very happy, and other things. That’s what got me through the holidays, being reminded she was still around.
Other things have happened in the past year: finding pennies at specific times; my mother-in-law finding a handwritten card in her house from my mom that none of us put there; my dad finding a handwritten note from my mom in a secret hiding place (that had been previously empty); my daughter seeing her in our house and mentioning her often (she was only 2.5 when my mom died, but she still remembers her and speaks her name a lot); my niece finding a Coca Cola with the “Share a Coke with Patricia” on the side (my mom’s favorite drink and her name); my husband hearing “What a Wonderful World” on the radio each time he got in the car the day after she passed (one of their favorite songs together).
I always thought there might be some sort of afterlife, but this past year has truly solidified my belief. I know my mom is still around and still letting us know she loves us. I am so thankful for these little touches she gives us, because I miss her so much it hurts, but I think if you’re open to these connections from deceased loved ones, it helps to ease the pain a little bit.