Tag Archive | Alberta

Visions of Heaven: Part I

On January 20, 2006 my sister Misty (28), her step-daughter Michelle (13), and her daughters Trista (9) and Larissa (6) were travelling from their home in Driftpile to Slave Lake for a shopping trip. At about 5:20 pm a man named Raymond Yellowknee collided with their car while attempting to flee police in a stolen vehicle. He was drunk and high, and had just been released from prison earlier that day. The only one to survive the accident was Larissa. She was transported to Edmonton with critical injuries where she passed away the following day surrounded by her family.

We were always close, my sister Misty and I, and on the night she died, I felt it. I knew something terrible had happened, but I didn’t know what. At that time I was a single mom in university and I had no idea how my life was about to change.

It was a winter evening in 2006, January 20 to be exact. A typical Friday. Earlier that day I sent the kids off to school, dropped off my dry cleaning, and went home to study. I decided to go out for supper that night because the youth group we attended was going swimming and I wanted to make it more of a special evening for the kids, as well as easier on me. Every detail seems burned into my brain. It was 4:55 pm. I went out to start the car and I was yelling at the kids to get their stuff together for the pool now so I didn’t have to come back home between supper and youth group. I had received a phone call that ran later than I intended so I was a little behind as we left for the restaurant, The Burger Baron. We arrived at 5:20. I found a parking space, shut off the car, and herded Chris, 12, and Rebecca, 9 out the door. We were parked in an angle parking lot adjacent to the restaurant with a driveway between it and the side door. On the way in I went around the passenger side to retrieve something and then headed across the drive to the restaurant. I was still ahead of Rebecca and when I looked back there was a vehicle coming towards us and in the second I looked back, I felt it. This horrible feeling I will never forget. The only way I can describe it is I felt like somehow my very soul was ripped violently from my body. I was nauseated, shaking, scared. I overreacted and yelled at my daughter Rebecca to get out of the way of the vehicle coming. I scared her, but then she became upset with me for yelling at her. How could I describe to her what had happened? I couldn’t as I didn’t even understand it myself.

We sat down and the kids ordered. The nauseated feeling wasn’t abating so I didn’t feel like eating. I just read my textbook while the kids ate. I felt strange, adrift, and anxious. I decided that I would skip the swimming and read while the kids were in the pool. I realized that I had forgotten one important textbook at home, so I ended up going back to the house for it after we left the restaurant. I entered the house to retrieve my textbook, picked it up off the table, glanced at the clock (it was 6:45), and hurried out the door. In what I can only call divine intervention I missed a 6:50 phone call from Renée (Misty’s sister-in-law), who called to tell me about the accident.

At the pool I tried to read, but I wasn’t gaining a lot of ground because everyone kept asking me to come join them in the pool. My friend Jordan knew something was wrong. He asked repeatedly, but I just kept telling him I was ok, and I needed to study. I was still feeling really off and I had no explanation for it. Truthfully, I just wanted to go home, but I couldn’t do that to my kids since they were looking forward to youth group all week. After swimming everyone was going to the cave, as we called it. Our church was the basement of the old post office building in High Prairie, where we lived, and the youth took it over every Friday evening for youth group.

When we arrived everyone was in such a good mood that I began to feel a bit better. I decided I was hungry after all. I wanted to call The Pizza Factory for take-out, but somehow my fingers dialed The Burger Baron instead. My friend Hanan answered the call. As soon as she recognized my voice, she started acting strangely, and said, “Oh, you want to talk to Kyla?” and then pretty much just dropped the phone before I could answer. Kyla is my cousin and she also worked there at that time. When Kyla answered I said, “Hi Kyla”. She interrupted me, crying, and said,, “You didn’t hear?” In another instance of what can only be called divine intervention my parents came down the hallway at that moment opened the door and stopped my conversation. I could tell something was terribly wrong because both my parents were crying. I dropped the phone (I’m sorry Kyla, I don’t think I ever said sorry for that) and waited for my parents to tell me what was wrong.

In my heart I knew, but the words coming from my mother’s mouth were unbelievable. She said there was an accident. Misty and the girls were going to Slave Lake, someone hit them, and killed Misty, Michelle, and Trista instantly. Larissa survived and she is being flown to Edmonton. Time stopped. The awful sick feeling returned and began screaming. I screamed over and over and over again and began throwing every object in the kitchen that I could. I sank to the floor and I have no idea how  or when I got up again. The kids at the youth group must have been so freaked out. I have no idea how my kids found out or how they even got to my parents’ house afterward. I lost it, and I haven’t found it from that day to this one.

Johnny O’Rourke, my brother from another mother, and the son of Pastor Pat and his wife Elaine, gathered me up and put me in my car. We sat there in the back alley that was the entrance to the church for a long, long while. He kept swearing, and telling me to just let out my anger. He knew about heartache. If there was ever a perfect person for that moment, it was him. He lost his own brother the year before, and his sister 18 years earlier.

There were a lot of people at my parents’ house when we got there. I sat in numb silence and accepted the hugs and coffee that people offered me. I sat there for hours on the couch, numb in disbelief, drinking coffee and trying not think at all. Finally, at about 2:30 am I got up and turned to make my way over to the kitchen to get another coffee, when the entire kitchen disappeared, almost as if someone drew a curtain back from a window and I could see into Heaven, and there she was…Misty, standing in a field of high waving wheat. Michelle and Trista were on either side of her. It looked like a bright summer day. It was daytime, but with a light I have never seen and cannot fully explain. The sun didn’t seem to be the source of this light; it was just there. Every molecule seemed to be infused with it and it just was. The girls had the most beautiful expressions on their faces, but I couldn’t see Misty’s face. Just her shoulders down. Trista was grabbing her arm and yanking on it as she jumped up and down. They were all looking off in the distance at something I couldn’t see. They were all so excited. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could feel their excitement. It was only seconds really, and it was over.

I stood there, stunned, awed by what I had just witnessed. I stumbled a little, and  I can’t remember who caught me, but they asked if I was ok. I said I was, but I wasn’t. I was overwhelmed by what I saw. It was the reality of Heaven. It was so real and close that I could reach out and touch it that night. Suddenly, I knew I needed to get to Larissa! I told my parents that I was leaving to Edmonton right then. I needed to go. I needed to be with her, little Rissy, only 6, laying in a hospital bed all alone. I suddenly couldn’t stand it and even the thought of driving past the accident scene to get to Edmonton wasn’t enough to deter me. My parents’ pleas for me to wait until morning stopped me. They wanted to go too, and they needed me to drive. So, I pulled out their couch in the living room, put the kids to bed, and waited for morning to come in the arm chair that only the week before I cuddled Larissa as we watched Peter Pan.

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I Have Seen Angels, Part II

It was a dark time in my life. My husband and I were having problems and in desperation we moved three hours away to a new city.

We moved into our new place on December 1, 2004. I began a new semester at the college in January and the children settled in at Avondale elementary. It was a lot more expensive to live there than we were used to, but we seemed to be doing ok. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had already been seeing someone else before we even moved. Apparently the plan was to move me and the kids there, ditch us after a few weeks, and move back to his hometown to be with his new girlfriend.

Anyway, the second week of January my husband’s aunt committed suicide and he was devastated. We both felt guilty for leaving such a short time before that happened. He wanted to go back home to the funeral alone, and I said I understood. What could I do? What I didn’t understand was why he insisted I did not tell the children that their favourite great-aunt had passed away. He was gone more than a week. It was bitterly cold out. and with no vehicle it was really hard to get the kids and I to school. We were running out of money and the bills were coming due when he finally returned home. He was different. Cold. Distant. It was bleak, and about to get a whole lot worse.

He wasn’t there more than two or three days when we had a huge fight. He frightened me so badly that I left with the kids to a motel for the night. The next morning he was gone. He called from his cell to tell me he needed some time to “think”, so he was going back home to his mother’s place. He never returned.

So there I was. Alone in a city with two children who were depending on me. I had no car, no job, and we had no choice but to survive on my student allowance.

I was pretty depressed, as anyone would be, but I tried hard to make that time in my children’s lives more bearable. I tried to turn our heartbreak into an adventure. I bought food my husband was allergic to. We watched movies he disapproved of. I listened to my music and danced around the house with my kids. We slept out in the living room like it was a camp-out.

Then there were the bad days. The days I would send them off to school, skip class for myself, and curl up with coffee and sad music. Those were the days of Yahoo’s Launchcast Plus radio stations in every imaginable genre. I would listen to the Christian station and pray for God to be with me, to give me strength to go on, to get through this. All of my dreams seemed a million miles away and I felt broken. Slowly, as I began reading the Word and drawing close to God, I felt Him draw closer to me. I felt His presence. I felt safe and comforted.

On one evening, as I was laying on the futon we used for a bed, with the children sleeping beside me, I felt particularly alone. I had the TV on, but I wasn’t paying attention to it. While I was staring ahead something happened that I will do my best to try to explain. It’s like a curtain was drawn back and I could “see” into somewhere else, and that somewhere was Heaven. The most amazing part of it was I was fully awake and I could see the edges of my television stand and the wall around the space I was looking into. In this place I saw someone I  knew was an Angel. He was dressed in white, dazzling white, with gold accents. His hair was golden and he had the most serene smile on his face. I felt instantly peaceful, and filled with such incredibly sweet joy that I can’t even compare it to anything I’ve felt before, or since.

The Angel was holding a silver platter. On the platter was a bakery store picture perfect loaf of bread and a silver pitcher of beautiful ruby red wine. He then knelt before me and placed the platter in front of me, and just as instantly as this vision appeared, it was gone, and the television came back into focus again.

I was bewildered, almost second guessing, but no, I knew what I saw. I wasn’t sleeping (the very thought was laughable since I had bad insomnia since my husband had left us). The next day I was talking to someone on the phone trying to decipher what it might have meant, when my son (who I didn’t even realize was listening) said, “Mom, that’s Communion”. As soon as he said that it became clear to me, and I began to cry. I knew God was with me, and my children, and He would care for us.

I have Seen Angels, Part 1

It was a few winters ago. My two children and I were travelling from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge  when I heard this weird scraping on the underside of van. I decided to stop at the Domo service station in Bow Island to check what the problem was.

BowIsland2

I noticed right away that the wheel wells were completely filled with snow to the point of scraping the tires. I called my husband to let him know and ask what he thought I should do. I was trying to kick some of the snow out of there when an older man came up to me. He asked me what the problem was. He seemed very kind, and really interested in helping. I told him that the snow was kicked up under there when I was driving and it had frozen underneath so it was impossible to go on. Just then my husband told me to just keep going as it was only another hour or so to Lethbridge, and since it was colder now the snow on the road was too frozen to keep collecting under there. I was parked about where the semi’s trailer begins shown in the picture below.

BowIsland3

The older man interrupted us and said to me in the most calm, but matter-of-fact tone, “If you continue on like that you’ll get into an accident and you’ll all be killed”. I just stared at him, and I knew; I don’t even know how, but I knew that he was right. He pointed behind us and said, “You could wash it in the car wash right there. It won’t take long”. I agreed and he walked back to his car parked about 15 feet away. My husband asked “Who’s that?” I was looking down still trying to dislodge some of the snow and I answered it was a stranger that advised me to wash the snow off. My husband just said “ok, call me when you’re done”. I hung up and looked for the man, but he was gone.

BowIsland

I was puzzled as to where he went because the 15-20 seconds I was looking down wasn’t enough time for the man to walk to his vehicle, start it, roll up to the stop sign, stop, then drive out of sight. It’s the prairie and you can see from the pictures that there’s no way he would be out of sight in that short amount of time, plus it was cold, like -15 or so. I remember just knowing that I didn’t even hear a vehicle start and even if I did I would still see that vehicle driving away, but there was nothing!

BowIsland4

I started thinking about how odd it was that this person just blurted out what sounded like either paranoia or else (bordering on) rude intervention…only, it didn’t feel like that at the time. He was kind; his demeanor was that of a calm, rational individual. There was something else though, he was so peaceful. There was this feeling of pure peace that surrounded him and calmed me down. Anyone knows me knows that if a total stranger walked up to me and told me those things I would either be supremely paranoid and most likely respond with annoyance, but instead his peace soothed me. As I washed the van I kept going over what happened in my mind and I realized that I had an encounter with an angel. I know it! I know it as surely as I know my children’s names.