After a month-long emotional roller coaster ride of hope, despair, and hope again, my favorite aunt died in July 2001, following a surgical procedure from which she had an 80% chance of making a full recovery. Our family was devastated.
It seemed inconceivable that this woman--so full of life, so full of fun, someone we'd "known all our lives"--could be gone. She had approached the operation with concern, and yet had quipped that she knew she couldn't die--not with the "awful" haircut she had!
But over the course of a month, one system after another began to fail, even though her heart--the focus of the surgery--functioned beautifully. Through it all, her children and grandchildren were with her, and ultimately my cousins and their families were able to give her a very special and rare final gift: they were all with her as she made the transition from physical life into what we call death.
Their presence was a testament of their love for her, and of her love for them. She was a woman of extraordinary faith who had been the grateful recipient of some genuine, personal miracles over the course of her lifetime. She had a strong knowing (not just "belief") in the survival of the soul, and accepted--as fact--that the veil that separates physical, incarnate beings from spiritual, discarnate beings is often quite thin.
My cousins began having vivid "dreams" in which they saw her shortly after her death. In many of their dreams--which were startlingly similar--she would simply be sitting on the side of their beds--radiant and smiling. In most of these "dreams" she didn't speak, but in one dream she said that the Lord had told her that it was her time to dance. Still in the dream, my cousin asked what type of dance, and my aunt laughingly replied, "I dunno if it's the rhumba or the cha-cha!" This would be the sort of "heaven" that my aunt would find herself in, and the type of humor that she would bring there with her!
Skeptics might say that these dreams were merely a reflection of my cousins' desire to hold on, or to not accept that their mother was gone from their lives. Perhaps. But those of us who knew her could safely say that if anyone could find a way to get through, to reassure, and to comfort, it would be her....
About two weeks after her death, I was having a rather typical morning. I was still out of school (for the summer break), my oldest son had left the house early, and my other son was still asleep downstairs. I fixed a cup of coffee and then could no longer ignore my three cats who circled my legs like hungry sharks, demanding their breakfast.
Like every other morning, I fixed their food on the counter space to the right of the stove, set the bowls on the floor, and then wiped off the counter. When they had finished eating, I put their bowls back on the counter so that my dogs (who were also circling like hungry sharks) wouldn't have a chance to finish off the kitty food. As a consolation prize, I gave them each a dog biscuit, reaching into the plastic container on that side of the counter where I keep their treats.
I was back and forth from the bedrooms through the kitchen and onto the porch, going about my normal summer morning routine (or lack thereof), and on one trip--perhaps half an hour after I'd fed the cats--I noticed something on the counter that most assuredly hadn't been there earlier.
Where on earth had that piece of candy come from? Wrapped in amber cellophane, I recognized it as a type I wasn't particularly fond of, and therefore never bought. We'd just recently moved into this house and all of the cabinets had been cleaned out, and there were no packages of hard candy anywhere, other than some "Jolly Ranchers" that my youngest son had in his bedroom downstairs.
This piece of candy was a simple object that was simply way out of place!
As I stood there pondering this, I flashed to the thought of my aunt.... Candy? Had she somehow left a piece of candy on my kitchen counter?? (And gee, if she was going to leave me candy, at least she could have left me something that I LIKE--ha!)
While it may seem bizarre that I would even consider this as a possible explanation for the presence of the candy, it wouldn't be the first time that something "ordinary" appeared in an extraordinary way. (I documented an event of this nature in "Scarlet Ribbons".)
I'll admit that I'm open-minded, but I also acknowledge that "if you're too open-minded, your brains can fall out" (according to internet humor). Therefore I tried to figure out a logical, real-world explanation for the appearance of this candy on my counter, and I asked both of my sons later in the day if they knew where it had come from--and they didn't know. I just couldn't come up with a single, plausible answer.... It wasn't there--and then it was. Period.
I emailed my four cousins and I asked them what their mom's favorite type of hard candy was. (I said I knew it was a strange question--and I didn't tell them, then, why I was asking.)
Within an hour, three of the four had emailed in reply, saying that they didn't know, though they knew she liked a certain type of Christmas candy that had a picture of a tree or other scene on it. Since this certainly didn't seem to apply--and since there was apparently no connection between my aunt and this mysterious piece of candy--I told them why I'd asked.
That evening the cousins all got together, and they asked their brother if he'd had a chance to check his email that day. He hadn't. Without telling him why, they asked if he knew their mom's favorite type of hard candy.
He, too, said that she liked hard Christmas candies with the "pictures" on them, and then he paused and said, "And I know she liked butterscotch, too."
Yes, the candy on my counter in the amber cellophane was butterscotch. And maybe this is just a "coincidence" that has nothing to do with any paranormal activity on the part of my aunt. But maybe, just maybe, it was a sweet reminder from her that life goes on and on and on.