The morning of the day My daughter passed away, I was in Peru and saw the largest Black bird I had ever seen before and stopped to take a picture of it. I have no idea why it was there or if that almost two foot tall bird normally lives happily by the park near the hospital. I had never seen it before during the week I had been walking back and forth from the hotel to the hospital. Later I would forget about it and be propelled into the next stage of my life. The one I am treading water in currently.
I was of course unexpectedly home the next day from South America with the news and a few days later my sisters and mother had arrived to Oregon from Ohio and Virginia. Almost instantly I had to make incredibly important decisions, under the most intense pain of my entire life, one being how and where and if to bury my daughter. You have to decide these things within hours. Under the intense shock, one song kept playing in my head, this country song, and I never listen to country. It was a song I had heard but not a song I listened to on a regular basis. It was the song that said, “bury me in white, lay me down in a bed of roses, send me away with the words of a love song,” and then the verse, “Lord make me a rainbow shine down on my mama.” I buried her in a white sun dress, in a white casket, and I filled the entire casket with roses. When my sister from Ohio came, she asked my other sister from Virginia, “What was Mikenna buried in? Apparently, without telling me, she had also had the same song playing in her head all the way here.
My oldest daughter had heard me mention the beautiful stained glass at our nearby family restaurant, two days after Mikenna had passed trying to acknowledge our youngest daughter’s birthday. She called up an old friend of mine and she made me a stained glass piece with a purple rose. Purple was the color I put her in most of her life. When you have four kids you must have some type of color coding system.
When I went to pick out her buried spot, I knew it had to be in a beautiful spot, I could almost see it in my mind. I had this vision of how she used to lay in the front yard under the cherry blossom tree, she even had a picture of herself covered in rose petals laying in the grass under the sun. When we toured the site, on the hill called Mountain View, there were only plots either by the side of the road or in what looked like a soccer field. I kept thinking, no this isn’t right. I kept asking the poor guy to show me every available spot, finally he said, there is one I didn’t know was available and he walked us over. It had a view of Mt Hood, under a cherry blossom tree, purple azalea nearby, and in the sunshine.
Another task I took on was to design the grave marker. My husband wanted mountains, my in-laws a sunshine, (she was their sunshine they always told her), and we wanted trees on each side. I wanted a cross between the dates with roses. I cannot draw, but for some reason I was able to draw a pretty decent template, and her marker looks like the scene where she was buried. A mountain landscape, evergreen trees on each side, with the sun shining behind the mountains.
One of the last pictures I have from her is one with her holding a rose. When I went to get a tattoo of a rose with her name written in my hand writing, the way I have written her name since the moment I knew she was on the way, I took a quick picture of the top of a small jewelry box rose, and that is the rose I ended up using. I had a bunch of the girls childhood jewelry boxes in my room. Later my daughter told me it had been Mikenna’s jewelry box. Of course.
When my sister came from Virgina she found a song playing in her head after the burial. It was a song she didn’t know. She asked my mother about it and even googled the lyrics. It turned out to be a song called Black Birds by the Beatles. She was born in the 80’s so it makes sense she didn’t recognize it. My sister didn’t tell me at first, she didn’t want to upset me. What she didn’t know is that for days, since I got home from Peru, I would wake up between 3:30 an and 4:30 am without being able to sleep because my daughter had passed away before the dawn between 4:45 am and 5:30 am.
During this time my pastor unfortunately was in Africa, with an 8 hour time difference. Four or five days after I was home I woke at 3:33 am. The second my eyes opened my phone buzzed. “God had laid it on my heart to tell you that you are not alone,” was what he said. It was what I needed to hear and I told him it was amazing that it was the moment I awoke. The next day, I woke at 4:04 am. I again, at 4:04 received another text from my pastor. I guess it was so I wouldn’t believe it to be a coincidence. The third day I had left my phone open without realizing it, so I woke at 4:45 thinking, no text today, but I closed and reopened my phone and you guessed it, I received a text at 4:45. This went on for four days up until her service. This is when I realized yes, God can text, in case you wondered.
My sister from Virgina told me about her song playing in her head, The lyrics saying, Blackbird take your broken wing and learn to fly, fly into the light of the dark night. I started to cry but have peace. I hadn’t been able to sleep during the time I knew she had passed away. I knew without a doubt my daughter was in the light, from that dark night. When one of my daughters came home from school I told her about the song. She said, “don’t you remember she got into the Beatles about 6 months ago? She was painting pictures of blackbirds”. I had completely forgotten. The next day another difficult task was to clean out her car. She had recently moved so she still had a bunch of her stuff in the trunk. I pulled out a box of room stuff and there was a small box of little blackbird picture hangers and a box labeled birds on a wire. A few days later as I went to look at the location where the city said I could put in a memorial bench, I of course realized it is also the same location on the river where she had taken pictures. Sitting on the fence post were two black birds. Since it seems to be crow mating season or something, I have had blackbirds all over my yard and in all the trees surrounding our house. A quick Google search and I see that ravens are used throughout the bible and were what Noah used to find land. They are the smartest birds of course, they use facial recognition to protect their families, so I can see why they would be the bird of choice for spiritual messages. So my hope for peace for my daughter, myself and for others reading my stories became Raven and Roses. One last piece of info for my non-believers in signs and messages from Heaven, remember my massage therapist that has helped me through this terrible time, with the daughter that passed away with the same birthday as my daughter? Well, her daughter had a daughter before she passed away, and was part of my massage therapist’s reasons to have strength
during her terrible loss. She told me recently that child’s name is Raven. Still doubt?