This morning I started my day like most other days. I woke up; poured myself a cup of coffee; and settled into my mediation space to journal, pray, and meditate. I felt strangely giddy. It wasn’t the two cups of coffee, either. I wondered if I should hike the mountain because my energy level was too high to sit still and pour myself fully into my workday with focus.
I sat down at my desk and started going through my emails, which led me to the Kathryn the Grape website, where I began to double-check some of the updates I’d requested. I also made notes on my to-do list of new things I wanted to be completed. As I was going through things, I looked at the photo that sits on my desk of my grandma “Maggie” and me. It made me teary realizing how the entire Maggie piece came to be because without the butterfly my son used to play with in his room when he was two years old, I wouldn’t have become fully aware of my purposeful path to bring Kathryn the Grape to life.
As I looked at the photo of me standing next to my beloved Grandma something came to me. Today is an important day.
I suddenly had this feeling come over me that today was the day my grandma passed many years ago…but I wasn’t certain. It was just a feeling of familiarity I was experiencing. I immediately went to my bedroom closet to get down an old box of mementos. I couldn’t reach them, so I grabbed a chair from my office as a step stool, stood on it, and brought down an old Asics running shoe box that holds some of the treasures of my life.
I shuffled through old photos and cards. I discovered a poem my first real boyfriend Jeremy wrote for me. I smiled at the photos of my soccer teammates and me in Tempe, AZ when we were in high school. There was a stack of papers from my school years that my mom had saved for me (including my preschool report card that said I enjoyed playing in the kitchen and being the “boss”…hmmm). There was a manila envelope full of the letters that my mom had sent me when I spent a week at Camp Winacka during the summer of 1985. Then I found two letters from my grandma, one dated October 30, 1987, and another dated September 28, 1988. I still couldn’t find what I was looking for.
What I was looking for was the prayer card that everyone was given at my grandma’s funeral mass. Even though I couldn’t find it in the memento box, I didn’t give up. I sensed it was there…somewhere.
I found another box of photos and went through it, but no luck. I saw yet another box in my closet that I was just about to open when I noticed a small stack of photos sitting on the shelf all by themselves. I must have one day been too lazy to grab a step stool to put them in the top of my closet, and instead, just shoved them on the shelf to store away another day in one of the boxes.
I picked up the stack of photos, about nine in all, and there among them was a folded piece of paper with the following words:
Margarette Agnes Bush 10/11/11 to 10/5/88
I stopped. Holding that sacred piece of paper in my hand, I kneeled on the ground and began to cry. Even though it was not her funeral prayer card, it contained the information I was seeking.
All the giddiness that was within me only 10 minutes prior came flooding out of me as I cried over the reality of today. It was 23 years ago, when I was only 14, that I stood next to my grandma’s hospital bed and watched her take her last breath of this life. It’s a moment that’s imprinted in my memory with such clarity that I can recall some many freeze-framed details, including where in the room I was standing, what the clock on the wall looked like, and how it sounded as it clicked time away. I can also hear the click, click, click. I remember how it felt to time her breaths for the 44 minutes prior to her passing, as I was extremely aware that the end was nearing because the time between each breath was getting longer…and longer…and longer…until the moment when the next breath just didn’t happen.
Not many people know I was in the room when my grandma passed. It isn’t a story I share over cocktails or at a dinner party, but it is by far one of the most significant moments of my life.
As the years have shaped me, I know the bond I shared with my grandma transcends time and physical space.
My Beloved Grandmother
I was my maternal grandmother’s youngest grandchild and only granddaughter; her five grandsons came before me, including my three brothers and two cousins, Ed and Michael. My grandma and I had a special bond. I’m not saying she didn’t have a special bond with my brothers or cousins, since I’m sure she did, but in experiencing my own life, I was extremely aware of how special is was to be her only granddaughter.
I was her beloved granddaughter as she was my beloved grandma.
When my grandparents came to visit us, grandma always stayed in my bedroom with me. She slept in my bed as I slept on a cot next to her. This was always so special for me because we’d stay up every night, and I’d ask her to tell me the story of how she fell in love with my grandpa. Every time she’d tell me the same story, and I never got bored.
I recall the time when my feet got big enough to wear her shoes, and how I loved wearing her navy blue Keds. These were the same Keds she wore when she’d walk with me to Pic N Save (now known as Big Lots), where she’d buy me something special, and then go with me to Jack in the Box and eat onion rings together while she told me stories of her life.
I loved my grandma so much, and I still do.
When I was in college, I wrote a song about my grandma. It was a song about her love story with my grandpa and about her life. Because her name, Margarette, was so hard to sing in a song, I changed her name in the song to be “Maggie.” That’s where the name Maggie started…from a song I’d written in honor of my grandma when I was in my late teens.
The Journey to Becoming Healthy & Whole
Fast-forward 15 years.
Three years ago, as I started the hardest journey of my entire life. I was getting divorced from my son’s father, my flagship company was crumbling with the ripple effect of the recession, and I was faced with countless choices that not only impacted my life, but my son’s life as well.
I often felt scared about the future and alone on the journey…but I wasn’t alone.
For one thing, my precious son was with me. Just like from the moment he was born, he was my #1 priority. The only reason I even started my own company in the first place was to have the flexibility to control my own schedule. Once Landon came along, I was well established and had a routine that allowed me to enjoy the roles I had poured my energy into. Every day I’d wake early and get a few hours of work done in my home office, tend to my son’s needs and desires for a few hours after he woke up, and then have one of his grandmothers or a nanny care for him for a few hours while I worked. Then I’d take a work break and switch gears to mommy mode, whereupon we’d play for a bit and he’d take his late afternoon nap while I completed my third work shift of the day.
During this time of tremendous change in our lives, I was determined to heal, becoming a healthy and whole woman for myself, and most importantly, for my son. I wanted to be the woman my son deserved as his mother. I remember asking myself one day, “Who do I want my son to know his mother to be?”
That question was a beacon for so much change!
The truth of the matter is, before my son came along I’d become dim. For many years, I’d put myself last; I dimmed my light to help other people shine. I felt soul-level lonely, I felt misunderstood, and I felt unhappy. I masked all those feelings rather well to most of the outside world, and even to myself. Yes, my unhappiness would erupt out of me like a volcano every once in a while, but overall I was determined to live the fairytale “American Dream” life I’d carefully crafted, and I’d often take all responsibilities onto myself allowing the circumstances of my life to be my reality.
I did all of this until I couldn’t tolerate one more moment of it, and it all came crumbling down on me like a shattered mess.
Then the hard stuff began. I dedicated tremendous time and energy to seeking out the right people who could help me heal. I spent 18 months in therapy, with eight of those months being twice weekly sessions. Therapy was such a sanctuary space for me. I was able to process and share my every thought openly and without reservation. It was during that time of courageous self-examination that I was so thankful for the wonderful friends I had in my life, who supported me no matter what and allowed me space to figure it all out, while loving me without expectation.
I learned during that time what it really means to show up for someone you love. Showing up means being there when needed and even when not asked, and not taking it personally when a friend who’s struggling doesn’t share details with you. To this day, I can recall the friends who were there for me during that difficult time. I recall what it felt like to receive cards or emails of care. I recall how comforting it felt to hear a friend say to me, “I love you and I’m here for you. I don’t need to know every detail of what’s going on, but if you need a break I can help.”
Those friends know they matter to me, and that I’m eternally thankful for their selfless support because it was during that time in my life, when for the first time, I didn’t have an ounce of energy to give ANYONE else. I barely had enough energy to get out of bed in the morning, care for my son, and work let alone show up for anyone or anything else.
It was in therapy that I found sanctuary with being me. I figured out who I am, and how to heal myself. I accepted responsibility for what was mine to accept. I released guilt and shame of choices I had made in my life that I wasn’t proud of making but no longer needed to carry around with me. And, I stopped blaming myself for anything that wasn’t my doing.
It was in therapy that I learned how to meditate. My therapist, an expert in Somatic Experiencing, taught me by leading me through guided meditation. She lead me through the pathways of what my subconscious was revealing to me. I can remember every single meditation I did while sitting in her office. I even have notes in my journal from each one because they were that significant to me.
The first time I was guided into meditation, my therapist asked me to call on my ancestors to be with me. This request didn’t feel strange as I’d often felt my grandma’s presence over the years, even though I always dismissed it. Yet, during my guided meditations with my therapist, I was completely open and receptive to any method of understanding that could help me become healthy and whole.
As I sat with my eyes closed and my body completely relaxed, I asked in my mind speak for my ancestors to give me guidance. Almost immediately, the presence I felt, of course, was my grandma, but I wasn’t certain. (Second-guessing was normal protocol for me at that time.) I told my therapist I felt as if my grandma was with me. She asked if there was anything my grandma was sharing with me, a message I was receiving from her. As I sat for a moment, these words landed in my mind:
You don’t have to do what we did. You can take your own road.
This message stuck with me like glue for a long time as I examined my life, and the patterns of life from all the women in my family who’d come before me. I came to understand that while I was a hugely capable, smart, and independent woman, I’d become submissive, codependent, and masked. I was playing the part of Kathryn, but I wasn’t fulfilled, I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t feel loved…not by others or myself.
The next time I sat in meditation where my grandma’s presence came through like gangbusters was the first time I meditated on my own. I was in the throes of making the biggest decision of my life. Regardless of what circumstances surround the destruction of a marriage, contemplating a divorce is pure agony you can’t understand unless you’ve experienced it. No one can measure how it feels to put every ounce of care and love you have into a child, and then one day wonder if you can really follow through with a co-parenting custody arrangement that means you’ll no longer have your child sleeping safe and sound in your home every night. Agony.
It was during this time of decision making that my grandma’s presence appeared again. I sat in meditation on the floor of my room, and in a few moments I was able to relax. Shortly thereafter, this message landed on my mind:
He doesn’t get you.
I knew what it meant.
After spending more time in therapy and more time considering what was the best choice for me to make for my future, and my son’s future, I determined that a divorce was necessary.
In the following months, I endured the hardest part of my journey…but it was a journey I had to take to heal, grow, forgive, and love unconditionally.
It was during this time that my friend, Alexis, and I became close. One day while she was at my house and our sons played together, she asked me if I knew what a crystal child was. I said no. She said, I think Landon is one. She explained to me what a crystal child is, and I dove into researching it. While I am not one to put a label on anything or anyone, I was open and receptive to what I found in researching that a “crystal child” is a child who’s highly intuitive, and is in tune with other realms and dimensions.
One day I was working in my office when I heard my son laughing and babbling when he was supposed to be napping. I got up from my chair and stood outside his room to listen closer. Sure enough, he was in his room carrying on a conversation with “someone” and laughing. It sounded like he was playing with a friend in his room.
Over the next few days, I started to really notice that when Landon was in his room by himself, he was often chatting away with “someone,” often laughing, and clearly having a great time. One night I asked him, “Landon, when you’re in your room, does anyone come and play with you?” The first few times I asked him this question, he lowered his head and put his hands over his face in a shameful, embarrassed way, so I let it go.
Then one Wednesday evening in April 2009, I asked him again. It was around 7:30 p.m. and we were in my bed doing our pre-bedtime “calming down” routine, where I sang to him, tickled him, and read him a story. I asked him, “Landon, when you’re in your room, does anyone come and play with you?”
Landon quickly answered with one word, “Butterfly.”
I asked without hesitation, “Is it one butterfly or lots of butterflies?”
Landon responded, “One butterfly, mommy.”
I asked him another question about what the butterfly looked like and he got annoyed with me and rolled over. Accepting the cue that he was done sharing about the butterfly, I quickly said, “Okay, let’s read our story.”
The next day was Thursday and I was having my first meeting with Jennie Lapointe, an intuitive guide who Alexis had introduced me to. Jennie wasn’t the first intuitive guide I’d ever met with, as my first experience with an intuitive (or psychic) was a few months prior, when I met with Rosanna the first time.
Anyhow, I met with Jennie at a coffee shop and I was extremely nervous. I was scared, because I was in the beginning stages of my divorce, and I was afraid about what to do for my son. I was second-guessing myself, and I could barely breathe.
Jennie explained how she was able to channel information, and how the gift of intuition works. She shared that we all have the ability to channel on varying degrees, similar to how one person can draw amazing artwork and another can only draw stick figures. Jennie said it’s the same with people who are gifted with channeling; some people can do it much better than others. I’d soon discover Jennie was the Michelangelo of intuitive healers of Shaman wisdom.
Jennie first had me breathe in deep, many times. She said I was holding my breath too much and I needed to relax. Then she began.
She said she was gathering that I’d always wanted to be understood and that I felt very misunderstood in my life, by my family and my husband. She said, “You thought he understood you, but he doesn’t get you. He just doesn’t get you.” Then she paused and said, “Does any of this resonate with you?”
I said, “Well, that’s a weird choice of words, because the first time I ever did my own private meditation, I felt my grandma’s presence tell me that same phrase.”
Jennie leaned in closer and said, “Okay good. I didn’t want to freak you out, but you have four feminine guides all around you, and your grandma’s energy is right here (pointing to my left shoulder).”
Now here is the deal; this didn’t freak me out. I didn’t think she was crazy and I didn’t think her message was false. The first time I sat with Rosanna, she told me my paternal grandfather was guiding me, which I actually found to be really strange because out of all of my passed relatives, he wouldn’t have been in the top three that I’d have thought would lead the way for me. But sure enough, the night after meeting with Rosanna, my paternal grandpa showed up in my dream. He and I were eating at a seaside Italian diner and he leaned in close and said, “Look at my eyes; I have the same eyes as your son.”
Now that kind of freaked me out, but the next day I called my parents and asked what color where Grandpa Cloward’s eyes were. They told me his eyes were blue…the same as my son’s eyes, indeed!
Now, back to Jennie.
As she continued, Jennie kept tilting her neck dramatically to one side and told me that my grandma wanted me to see that her neck was tilted to the side. Jennie said I would know what it meant. And I sure did. My grandma had an issue with her neck (I’m not certain why) and in every photo from her life, her head is tilted to the right. It was a confirming gesture for me to see. How would Jennie possibly know that? Maggie was most certainly present.
At at one point Jennie said I was worried and scared for my son. She assured me he was fine, and is going to be fine. He just wants his mommy to be happy. If your happy, he’s happy. She then informed me that my grandma protects my son. She said, “When he’s in his room and you and your husband are arguing, and you think he can’t hear you. He can, but she covers his ears.”
I just broke down and cried. She gave me a moment, then she assured me that my grandma loves my son and is his protector.
Then I noticed Jennie’s eyes displayed a kind of far off look to them (which I’ve come to know is her channeling look) and she said, “Butterfly. Your grandma appears to your son as a butterfly.”
That’s when I just lost it!
No one knew about my conversation with Landon the night before, when he told me a butterfly played with him in his room. That was the confirmation I needed to hear to know that there was a reason for what I was experiencing and the people to whom I was being led!
From that moment on, I never doubted again. Never! It was in that moment I knew for certain my grandma was with my son and me. I also knew that all I’d ever been taught to believe about the afterlife and heaven and life on this planet was no longer the truth for me.
From that moment on, Maggie has been leading me. It’s because of my grandma’s presence in my life that I’ve been able to find the courage and strength to become all that I am now, and do all that I’m doing.
The symbol of the butterfly is not just a symbol for my grandma; it’s also a symbol of me. I was once a caterpillar wanting to fit in with all the other caterpillars, but I felt different. I didn’t want to be a caterpillar anymore, but the journey to become a butterfly, as I’d soon find out, was hard, lonely, scary, and painful…but so worth it.
I spread my wings, and really started to fly.
Butterfly Messages and A White Gold Flower Ring
The following May, one year and one month after that first meeting with Jennie, I had the pleasure of sitting in a convention session at Hay House’s “I Can Do It” conference, where Lisa Williams channeled for people. Right before Lisa’s session, I’d talked with Jennie and she reminded me once again, as she’d done the day before, to ask for my grandma to be present when Lisa channeled. By now, Jennie and I had developed a really close friendship that continues to this day.
That May morning, I sat in the front row of a huge convention room, listening and learning from Lisa Williams. After teaching about intuition and channeling, she then announced that she’d like to do some channeling for us. She asked us all to close our eyes, breathe in deep breaths, and get ourselves centered. It was during that time with my eyes closed, that I said in my mind speak, “Okay, grandma. If there ever was a time for you to come through loud and clear, here it is. If you have something you want to share with me, please make your presence known.”
I opened my eyes and Lisa dove right into it. It was fascinating to watch her. She had informed us that she often first channels male energy during a reading, and the first energy she was getting on this day, was indeed a male energy. She said, with rapid speech, “This is a paternal uncle. Someone’s paternal uncle. Heart attack. There were heart issues with this person.” She looked up at everyone to see if there was any recognition. In my mind I thought, well my dad’s brother, Uncle Jim, died from a heart attack. (My dad’s brother, Uncle Bill did, too, but he didn’t pop into my mind at that moment.)
Then she continued, “Okay, I’m getting a paternal grandma. Hmmm. Okay, she’s limping. Something is wrong with her leg, no her hip.” Lisa looked around the room and no one made a connection with the energies she was pulling in.
Now here I was, sitting in the front row, realizing that my paternal Uncle Jim died of a heart attack and my Grandma Cloward walked with a limp from a bad hip. Could these be my ancestors?
Lisa was starting to get a little frustrated because the energies were trying so hard to make a connection, and no one was speaking up and finding a link. She said she may need to move on, waved her hand in my general direction and said one last time, “Does this connect with anyone?”
As a feeling like fire welled up through me, I leaned forward, raised my hand and said, “I think it’s me.”
She said, “Okay. Let’s get her a microphone.”
I explained the connection to my Uncle Jim and my Grandma Carmel Cloward. Lisa said a few more things that were in sync, but I don’t recall them, quite frankly, because they weren’t the whoppers of the reading.
Then Lisa said with huge enthusiasm, “Whoa!!!! Okay, now I have a maternal grandma here.” I just smiled and thought to myself, yep, there she is.
Lisa explained that my grandma’s energy was super-persistent and wanted her to rearrange the stage a bit; she didn’t like the setup. That made everyone laugh. She shared a few things about my grandma, and then asked, “Do you have a ring of hers? Are you wearing her ring?”
I looked down at my right hand and said, “Yes. This ring was hers and my mom gave it to me. I’ve had it in a box for years, but got it out to wear especially for today.”
Lisa said, “Yes, she sees that. She’s happy you’re wearing it, but your grandma insists that it needs to be cleaned.” I just laughed.
She then said, “She wants you to be sure to say hello to your mom for her.” My eyes widened as I said sarcastically, “Oh, that’s going to go over real well.” Again, there was laughter in the room.
She shared a few more things and then said, “You and your grandma were very close. No one really understands that, but you do.”
Lisa then said, “You were in the room when your grandma passed over. She says she knows that was very difficult for you, but she wants me to tell you that she was glad you were there.”
Tears were now pouring down my face.
Lisa continued, “She loves you very much, and she’s so proud of you. She’s saying that you’ve been going through a hard time, but she’s with you all the time.” Lisa paused, and then she continued, “She’s telling me that you two communicate a lot.” I nodded through the tears. “She says she just wanted to come through today and tell you she loves you.”
Lisa looked off and said, “Okay, she’s leaving now.”
I nodded, and said a barely audible “thank you, Lisa,” and leaned back in my chair. I rubbed the diamond flower ring on my right hand and felt this powerful presence of love all around me.
Angels Among Us
Today is the 23rd anniversary of my grandma’s passing. While I didn’t realize it or have it marked on my calendar, I was meant to remember. I was led to the top shelf in my bedroom closet to discover a folded piece of paper with my beloved grandma’s name on it and the date of her birth and death.
Today, I was meant to push all my work aside and write the words I just shared, which basically will become a chapter of my book, a chapter that honors my grandma and her eternal presence in my life.
Today I am reminded of the magical Maggie, who I loved so much as a little girl, who played with my son in his room, who lovingly led me on the most sacred journey of my life, and who I love today.
Death is not as scary to me any longer, because I know it’s not the end. Angels are among us, always. I was by my grandma’s side when she passed 23 years ago today, and I know without a doubt that’s she been by my side every day since.
My grandma was born on 10/11/11.
I published the first Kathryn the Grape book on 11/11/10.
And that just makes me smile!