Friday, January 30, 2015

Tribute and celebration of my daughter Jessica's life and passing January 9, 2015

One of my very closest, most beloved friends and Earth Angels, Kate Twoey, posted this beautiful gospel song on my Facebook page during a time that I would consider the hardest, and the most beautiful of my life. Click on it and let it play while you read this. It's beautiful.

My daughter Jessica, only 26 years old, passed away on January 9th. I will share parts of our story because the human spirit (spirit being human) is so very beautiful, and it's important for every single person to know that Earth Angels count. And we each have the opportunity every single day to be an Earth Angel. Take that opportunity and run with it. Shine your very own light and bask in it. Nourish others with it.

I had posted some of our journey through the sickness that my daughter experienced in this blog - about the beginning, preparing for the hard times, the time that we got to be with her to help her heal, the time when letting go began, and when her new journeys began (she had two seizures after we brought her home - her little system was not able to cope with the stresses).

Go get some tissues.

This post is about the BIG journey. I'm sort of jealous of where she is now and whenever my mind goes to the dark places I ask her (to turn things back to the light places), what are you doing today? I doubt she's playing harps. She may be painting fish or designing new flowers, she may peeking in on loved ones, she may be doing her life review (favorite movie of us all, and most interesting), she may be loving her animals and our family members who have welcomed her to her new Universal home. She is not cold. She does not have to go to the dentist. She does not have to earn money to pay bills. She is not in pain. She is limitless and absolutely surrounded by LOVE. Jealous!

I've experienced more emotion since that day than the entire time in my whole life, I am riding the dragon and it's a helluva roller coaster. There's beauty, there's laughter, there are tears, and sometimes my heart feels very heavy and sometimes it feels very light. There's peace. There is, for me, no regret. And I'm soooooo thankful for that. We talked almost every night for the last year and a half while she went through this sickness. The time I had her at home with me for four months was a gift. We knew it.

On January 9th I was home alone and the doorbell rang. I was in the bathroom and took my time finishing up, figuring it was UPS, as they always ring when they leave packages. I strolled out to the front door and saw three very tall, very strong, very uniformed, gorgeous policeman waiting patiently. (I'd had a premonition of this, and now it was happening - ugh.)

I opened the door and said "Oh do I need to go inside and sit down? Is it Rob?! Is it Jess?!" And they said, "You might want to do that." So I let them in and my pups thought it was a party. I sat on the couch. The policemen spread themselves around the living room, one next to me, one on the edge of Rob's leather recliner, and the other in the soft teal chair that Jess spent so much time in while she was here.

"I regret to inform you that your daughter was found deceased in her bed in her apartment early this morning," said the one sitting next to me. I did not cry. My mind flashed white. I said, "I knew it." And I did. I'd spent the last year and a half nursing not just her body but her soul and spirit.

These beautiful strong men who protect us have some very difficult things to do in their jobs, and I said as much. They asked me if there was someone I could call to come and be with me, and I couldn't remember my own husband's phone number, so they made soft conversation while my body and heart tried to settle so I could focus. "What kind of dogs are your pups?" one of them asked, and I told him. "How long have you lived in State College?" another asked. They were so gentle and their eyes were big as saucers.

I called my sister and she came, but they stayed with me for nearly an hour til she got to my home. They said "We can go to the University and work with the University police to track down your husband." He was working. All I could imagine was him in class and several burly cops trooping in with very bad news and his students and I said oh no, don't do that. He told me later he was in the greenhouse banging on pipes to get them to make the heat work and he had his phone off.

I said to the burly cops "You must have other things to do, criminals to catch and things...." but they stayed til my sis arrived. It was quite surreal and I discovered that your body kicks up some hormones just like in childbirth and you can run on them for several days. It makes you function when your logical mind thinks it can't.

My sister arrived and we began the process of bringing family close and going through the very hardest times. I won't share all the details of that unless you want to hear, in which case you can call or message me - you know where to find me.

But for those who helped us through the most difficult times, I want to write down the BEAUTIFUL parts. First, I will say that Jess and I talked often about numbers and universal messages. And for days and days after her passing every time I'd look at anything digital it would say 1:11 or 2:22 or 4:44, etc. I knew she was "talking to me." That was comforting. She was letting me know she is here. She is well. She's whole and probably having a much more wonderful time than the rest of us. I should add that when we landed in Portland and got into our rental car, I turned on the radio and the first song that came on was The One I Love by R.E.M. - spirits can send us songs as well. I blasted that radio. Thank you Jess XO

To understand the significance of this song, there is a passage in Michael Newton's book, Journey of Souls, where one of the healing processes we go through when we pass over is described beautifully. "S: I'm propelled in and I see a bright warm beam. It reaches out to me as a stream of liquid energy. There is a ... vapor-like ... steam swirling around me at first ... then gently touching my soul as if it were alive. Then it is absorbed into me as fire and I am bathed and cleansed from my hurts.... My essence is being bathed ... restoring me after my exposure to Earth." (Orientation chapter, p. 54)

I had so much to do, as all of you who've had loved ones pass on know - I notified her boss in Portland, Oregon, where she lived and word spread like wildfire. Her Facebook page exploded with LOVE. I had asked her (still talking to her by air) if she would send me a rainbow to let me know she was well, and the first time I logged onto her Facebook page I experienced a computer glitch. (Spirits, because of the high vibrations of their whole energy can affect electronics easier than other things. When my Dad died he blew out the lightbulb in the kitchen, another story.)

What happened was that her Facebook banner (a picture of a rainbow), which usually takes up just the top part of the page when you log in somehow became huge and took up my whole computer screen for a few minutes. I said "Hi Jess. Thank you."

My Facebook page exploded with LOVE. The phone rang off the hook. I made calls and my husband made calls and arrangements for us to get Jessie's brother and his wife here from Argentina, and for us all to go to Portland to take care of her apartment, car, and kitty. Her boss was like a sister to her and they'd had a very close relationship, and during the months we were navigating the sickness her boss and I became very close friends. She's an Earth Angel for sure.

In some ways, all this stuff you have to do keeps you getting out of bed. I had told my husband during her sickness that if she passed it would break me and I would probably never be able to get out of bed again. But that didn't happen because I had the honor of taking care of all of these details way across the country in Portland with as much dignity and grace as I could muster, for her. I had to do it.

Here is a bit about our tribute to her, my nature girl who loved photography.

The drive to the Beautiful Place
Jessie's boss, Kate, had hiked all over the mountains where Jess used to hike to find The Beautiful Place. This was the place where we would gather, her friends and family that could travel to make it, to celebrate her loves, her life, and scatter her ashes. In Portland, especially in the winter, it rains every single day. But on the day of our hike to The Beautiful Place, we had beautiful sunshine, a gift.

The Beautiful Place is Elowah Falls
Jessie's Lovies 
There were about 25 of us doing the hike, and Kate had said she chose the "easiest" of the hikes Jess used to love to go on - she loved photographing the waterfalls. Heck, I used to hike all the time, but I'm 56 and had a desk job for the past 16 years, so I started out fine, but as the trail got narrower and the incline steeper, my husband took not only my hand but my elbow too, to steady me - my knees were shaking anyway on the way up. And my heart felt heavy because the closer we got to the falls the more my mind was wondering if it was too wild a place.

Narrow highup pathway, beautiful moss covered surroundings.
Our destination - The Beautiful Place
After about a mile, maybe a bit less, we arrived at our destination - Elowah Falls. Oh it is a beeeautiful place. Kate said when she scouted out the hike it was gentle, but on this day it was thundering. We could hear it and the waterfall sprayed out about 25 feet at least. It's gorgeous and has a magnificent stream coming out from it, filled with huge moss covered boulders and ferns along the side. Just beautiful. On a sunny day the falls catch rainbows.

A bit of the stream that flows from the waterfall.

We reached a point that was a few yards from the beautiful falls and somehow it felt just right, so we stopped. My husband, my son and his wife, Jessie's boyfriend, and Kate were huddled in a little group and I was ready to say something. Kate came up and whispered to me that all the other lovies were being respectful by standing a few yards back so I told her to invite them to come closer if they wanted to get wet. The falls were so magnificent that day we all got absolutely drenched in the spray. So when all the lovies scooted up near us here is what I said. (I had written what I wanted to say in the hotel one night when I couldn't sleep and all I had was a sharpie marker, thank goodness cause my little paper got drenched, and my glasses needed windshield wipers both inside and out.)

Hardest speech of my life.
It was interesting giving this eulogy - because inside part of me was laughing at the waterfall spray hitting my back and dripping down my husband's neck and the glory of beautiful Nature as we gathered to scatter what Jess was quite done with. Before I started talking I looked out at the faces of Jess's loves gathered round, all getting quite wet, and the love pouring out of their eyes and their soft smiles.

I said, "Does anyone know where North is?" And wonderful Kate said "Yes," and pointed with her arm, so I started before I turned in that direction, saying -

Jess and I had a strong connection to Native American traditions in our lives, and it seems fitting to bring those in today. So I faced North, the direction of Wisdom and Gratitude, and said Thank you for the guidance in Jessie's life, and I turned to the East, and said Thank you for illumination and clarity in Jessie's life, and I faced South and said Thank you for balance, beauty, and trust in Jessie's life, and I faced West and said Thank you for introspection and goals in Jessie's life. (The four directions guide us as we go through life according to Native American tradition.)

I also thanked the Spirits above, below, and within.

And then I pulled out the necklace I was wearing. It is a necklace that is very special. I bought one for Jess when she left home to embark on her life several years ago, and I also had one. We wore it on the same days when we wanted to feel close to each other. It is a five pointed star, which represents the elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire as well as Spirit. And I said we are all made of these elements. Jess is an ancient soul, a time traveler, part of the whole. She lived with all of herself.

She saved $200 dollars to buy a trampoline when she was just in middle school, bought a motorcycle when she was 16, and put 10,000 miles on her car the first year she had it doing road trips. She was a cheerleader, and later, as a professional, was able to magnificently capture the essence of each person she photographed. As a studio photographer she photographed dogs, children, super cool dudes, shy pretty girls, the elderly and the dying, the births. She was an observer of life, a wonderful teacher, and she continues on her journeys.

I hold the honor of being her mother close in my heart.

I said - I believe in reincarnation, and one night before we came to Portland to do this work I went outside and crunched around in the snow, looked up at the sky, and breathed in the clean cold air. I felt a smile come across my face and a lightness in my heart and belly and I felt her presence. I said, "Hell yes, let's do it again."

And I said "Here's to sweet journeys with our loved ones and all they do in between our being together." And I thanked her lovies for being part of her life.

And here's the thing - I would never presume to pull her back from where she is now, I don't own her or anything about her, I just have the honor of being her caretaker for a while - though I know the love we have between us will take us on many journeys, which I look forward to. She is not a child whose life was cut short, she is ancient and rejuvenating, regenerating, like each one of us.

I like to play with Angel Cards, and the one I picked just before the journey to take care of her things and her home was PEACE.

My beautiful strong son Torey scattered Jessie's ashes, which took flight on the spray from the waterfall.

Balloon messages
The Lovies wrote messages on balloons and released them. (I didn't do this because of the danger to birds but I wasn't going to say anything on this special day.) Each person was given a flower to toss into the stream flowing from the waterfall.

And we went back down the mountain. And my heart felt light.

She is everywhere.
Laughing and loving you.

Sweet love to my angel xo

This was always one of her favorite songs.

Thank you for being part of our lives xo



  1. Hi Jen. I am sorry to hear this news in your beautiful tribute to Jess's life. I believe that you HAVE been blessed by her visits from where she is. Your connection with her continues. How beautiful.
    xx, Carol

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    1. Thank you Jennifer for sharing this with me. Jessica is loved and will be missed.
      Love, Deborahy xx

    2. Thanks Deb, I miss her too but I feel she's only a breath away.
      Big hugs,

  3. This is so beautiful, thank you for sharing it with us. You know you are in mine and Trev's thoughts and prayers.
    I really found how you handled all of this inspirational, and it has made me rethink how I deal with my own loss, so thank you again, it really means a lot to me that you shared this.

    1. Thank you Kat. I think part of the reason I feel the need to share this is to help other people. Lots of love to you and Trev xoxo

  4. I am so proud to be a part of my families' various journeys as they each and all are a part of mine, but right now, I am also so so proud of you, Jen. Your art shines forth in not only what you create, what you have written, but how you have walked and are walking this path, filled with triumph and tragedy, often simultaneously. Thank you for helping to teach me from my beginnings to see the world differently and above all to voice what I see, and for also guiding my beloved nephew and niece on their paths to become people I am honored to call friends, and would love passionately even if we were not already blood. Shine on, Jess... and shine on, Jen... Namaste, and as always, much much love....

  5. Thank you my sweet brother. Lots of love backatcha!