This starts last January 29, when I lost (didn't know she was a dear friend then) a dear friend. Her name was Annette. I am much older, but she was 30 when she passed away on the above date. Annette (she preferred Annie) was an artist, and I might add, a very, very good artist.
Initially, my wife (who is a nurse) went to work for Annie's mother in a resource center, which cared for the needy, gave medical advice, and counseling. Then, my wife met Annie, who then lived in Oregon (as she loved gray skies, and lots of rain).
She would occasionally come down to Southern California to see her parents, and while on one of her visits, she painted a Wisteria on one of the bedroom walls in my home, and some beautiful mountain/sky backgrounds in my living room for my Christmas village background. That was the first time I had a chance to talk to Annie. She spent most of the day at my home, but unfortunately, I didn't get home until late so only got to talk to here about two hours.
She want back to Oregon, but sadly, due to a very rare disease that she contacted at age eight, she was not destined to live to be very old. Shortly after going back to Oregon, her kidneys shut down permanently. Since my wife was a nurse, and she and Annie got to know each other real well, Annie, being somewhat afraid of where her life was heading, called my wife almost daily - concerned about her blood pressure, etc. Just really concerned, as anyone in her situation would be.
Well, this one night, she called and my wife wasn't home. I asked her "how are you doing Annie", and she said fine. We talked for a solid hour, and did nothing but laugh like a couple of teenagers. She never mentioned her hurting, her illness, or anything else. We just had an enjoyable conversation that I will always treasure, as about a week after our conversation, she had a stroke. She recovered in about a month, except for her speech, and she couldn't paint anymore, so that frustrated her.
Just last Christmas season, I am cleaning my living room, and thinking, boy as soon as Annie recovers, I will see if I can be a kidney donor. Well, soon after that, Annie had a massive stroke which took her life.
Now, I go to Annie's service (no casket) and I felt awful and cried a lot for a girl/young lady whom I really didn't know that well.
All that kept going through my mind was, "if only we could have talked more over coffee, lunch, or dinner, and gotten to know each other better". If only, if only. How many times do we say that to ourselves. Unfortunately, Annie had to move in with her parents, and her parents didn't make you feel comfortable at all dropping by. So, I never really got much visitation time with her. Annie was a 'free spirit', and it was very hard for her to have to move back home; but she needed dialysis treatments that she couldn't do alone in Oregon.
I didn't realize it then (at her service), or even a month later. But then, for some strange reason, I felt a strong spiritual connection to her. No, I won't say anything like voices, horns, or anything else was experienced by me, but I will say, I still feel that same connection. I never go to sleep before praying for her and about her. I also talk to her, being sure she can sense what I am saying. This feeling, I have decided, is here until my last day on earth. But, you know what, I love the feeling. I visit the cemetery regularly to put different things on her marker which covers her ashes. Many around me have since acted like I am somewhat strange, including her parents. I don't care, I know what I feel. Before Annie died, I never went in any cemetery. Not even where my childhood family members are buried. Hated those places.
Now, another twist, which may or may not have any merit. However, I have to tell you, when it happened, it gave me a feeling like I have never felt. Could just have been the moment, and nothing more.
Here is the explanation of that twist I just spoke of. As I said, my wife is a nurse. She runs into another situation in the resource center where she works. A really super neat young lady (Veronica) comes to her and says "Shirley, I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor and I can't get any referrals to get the operation I need". This young lady was 19, and scared to death. My wife, who has a way of getting things done, found a doctor in Northern California who would do the operation. All the necessities are done, and Veronica asks Shirley "will I remember everything when I wake up"? My wife says, "sure". Sure enough, Veronica calls Shirley and says, "Shirley, I remember everything". All cancer was removed. However, she has gone five years, but still has to survive another five to be considered completely free of cancer.
Since then, this young lady has graduated from a Northern California college with three granted scholarships (given to her by the cancer society - had to have very high scores to get them), and was just awarded another scholarship for a Southern California college. She then moved on to become a math teacher right near where I live.
Veronica first invited us to her graduation from the Northern California college, as Shirley said, "I will be there for your graduation". I met her then, and thought to myself, nice person, but probably will never see her again. Well, when she was awarded her most recent scholarship, she invited Shirley and me to attend the ceremony. I picked on that poor girl all the way to Los Angeles and back. Ha ha. I mean, I joked and pulled her leg so many times---.
Well, here is where this has a twist and yet was so beautiful. We get home from L.A., and upon Veronica's leaving, gave me a hug. Now this, in itself, wouldn't seem like much to the person who just saw it happen, but it did something to me.
Here is why. As I daily pray and talk to Annie, the two things I always thought to myself and said to her was, "Annie, I would give anything to spend a day with you and receive a hug". I have been saying and thinking that since January 29th of this year, the date of Annie's passing. I now think to myself, "was that possibly Annie working through Veronica, or was it just coincidence"?
Since that night that I got the hug, and a whole day with Veronica, we have gone to lunch once by ourselves. Now, I don't think anything out of line in the least with this young girl. My wife is fully aware that we are going to lunch. I just love her company strictly as a dear friend. What is an older guy like me doing asking a friend out to lunch as young as Veronica? Only the Lord knows. It probably seems strange to a lot of you, but for those that question, it was a totally innocent, beautiful, fun experience. I just love her company, as I like to chat, and so does she. I am not a lonely man either, just enjoy nice friends. I have friends of all ages and genders.
We will meet for lunch every three months we decided. How neat is that?
Well, that is my story. Not a real intense spiritual experience to many, but special to me.