The phone ringing on the bedside table stuns me out of a deep sleep. The clock reads 11:10 pm. “Kris, where are you?” I recognize it is Joan, my house guest. “I’m in bed, at home, why?” “Someone just stole your car. I’m out in your garage.” Huh? “A guy just ran out of your house with your car keys and stole your car.” I’ll be right out.
I threw on some clothes, grabbed my phone and walked hurriedly from the master bedroom at the far back of the house to the front of the house. Along the way, I noticed our 50” living room TV was half pulled out of the entertainment center shelf. Oh, my God, someone had just been mere feet from my bedroom door as I slept? And why didn't any of our four dogs bark? I passed through the small laundry room and opened the door to the two-car garage. The garage door was wide open to the dark night; the lights in the garage were too bright and there was the space where my car had just been. Joan stood there, waiting for me. I dialed 911 and calmly reported a home invasion and car theft. Then I asked Joan what happened.
Joan’s friend dropped her off at my house. As their car approached, Joan thought it was odd that my garage door was wide open, and the light was on in the garage. Maybe Kris just got home from somewhere and she forgot to close the garage door. Joan walked through the garage. As she reached to open the door to the laundry room, a man rushed out the door, startling her. He pushed past her. Confused, Joan insisted, “Who are you?” “A friend,” he muttered with irritation. Then he jumped in the car and tore out of the garage. That’s when Joan called me.
My mind was racing. My partner, DD was out of town. Joan was a house guest who never bargained for this kind of drama. She was very kind and understanding. The garage door was dented and couldn’t be closed. We went in the house as I frantically took stock of what I should do next. My mind was racing; my heart was pounding. He has my car keys and house key. Call a 24-hour locksmith. What valuables were in my car? A couple gas credit cards and my Costco card. Call and cancel those. He has the remote garage door opener. Get a new garage door opener. Dear friends of ours went to the all-night Walmart, picked up a new one and installed it that night. Meanwhile, where are the police? Internet searches to find a locksmith. Infuriating. I soon concluded that all the “local” 24-hour locksmith businesses are actually call centers in Indiana. No help at all. Meanwhile, I walked around the house to see what else was stolen. Our dog’s Tramadol bottle was gone from the kitchen counter. Nothing else seemed to be missing. Back in the garage, I noticed an old gym bag on the floor had been emptied out and power tools were inside. Then I noticed the garage door had a long vertical dent in it across two panels. How did that happen? Then, I noticed that the two outside lights on either side of the garage door were out. I checked the switch – it was turned on. Huh. I reached up and sure enough, someone had simply loosened the bulbs. This was planned out. How did he get in? We figured he had a universal garage door opener and just drove house-to-house trying them and we were unlucky. We found out later we were wrong about this.
Meanwhile, where were the police? This was a Saturday night and Albuquerque has the highest rate of car thefts in the country, so maybe that had something to do with it. An officer finally arrived around 1:00 am - two hours after I called. While taking the report, she was alarmed to learn that the suspect had been on the scene seconds before we called it in. She apologized and said there must have been a dispatch communication glitch because the call had been given a low priority response code.
I finished with the police officer and then I remembered something. Hey, when I bought my brand new 2017 Subaru Outback just four months before, I think I signed up for some kind of promotional Subaru Starlink service. At the time, I didn't even really know what it was or what it included. I ran to my files, and finally found the paperwork. I called the number and reported my car stolen. Thirty minutes later the police called me to say they found my car and I could come get it down in the South Valley area. It took forever for the taxi to pick me up. I wasn't going to call any friends for a ride at 2:30 in the morning. Several lit-up police cars surrounded my car waiting for me and my spare key. The officer entered the driver’s side door. He sat in the front seat, using his flashlight to search for any evidence. Within seconds, he presented a heavy thick plastic bag with handguns inside that had been left on the floor of the passenger side. Oh, my God - again! Did this man have a gun in my house, mere feet from my bedroom door as I slept? Two officers thoroughly searched the rest of my car for drugs and anything else they could find. Fingerprinting yielded few useful results. While waiting for the police to finish searching my car, I was relieved to notice that the only apparent damage was the missing solid triangle antenna on the top of the car. It had been ripped off and now only wires dangled there. Around 4:00 am they released my car to me. As I approached the open front door, I could smell an awful stench. It was a revolting odor that I had never smelled before. Like cigarette smoke mixed with cheap male cologne and maybe a dead fish all rolled together.
By the way, let me share with you how the guy actually gained access to my house. One of my students later told me about this little-known ingenious method. Sure enough, I went to YouTube and watched a demonstration of how it is done. You take a straightened wire clothes hanger and insert it up at the top of the garage door, between the door and the garage door frame. Then you extend it so that you can hook the manual garage door opener. Slide the hook of the hanger along the length of the red rope until you snag the black handle. Now, just pull down and this manually unlocks the door. Then, simply reach down and lift up the garage door – slowly and quietly. Most people – like us – never dreamed that this could happen, so we always left the door from the garage to the house unlocked. Never again. He walked into the hallway and immediately saw my car keys on the hall table. Who knows how long he walked around my house as I slept with our four dogs back in the far back bedroom? By the way, I also later figured out that when he manually lifted up the garage door, he didn't lift it high enough, so that when he recklessly backed out the car, the antenna caught the bottom of the garage door and that's how it was torn off.
It was creepy and disgusting being in my beloved brand-new Outback. It felt dirty inside with that disgusting stench. The police warned me that if the test came back positive for Meth in my car, it would have to be considered totaled by the insurance company. Was my dream car going to be totaled just four months after driving it off the lot? Thank goodness, it wasn’t, but I kept all the windows rolled down for the first couple of weeks trying to air it out.
I was still quite shaken by this whole experience, wondering how close I came to a much more tragic ending. I couldn’t know then that this story was about to take a miraculous turn.
Two days later, I was finally ready to get inside my car, to clean it out with practically ritual attention to cleansing it of all negative energy. I planned to wash it, wax it, and thoroughly wipe down the entire inside. I had a bundle of sage ready and one of my students had given me a small bottle of Holy Water offered by her priest.
I pulled the car into the center of the garage, brought out the vacuum cleaner, and began behind the driver’s seat. Using just the wand tube, I reached forward to the emergency brake space between the two front seats. I could barely make out a tiny piece of paper. I don’t know why I didn’t just vacuum it up. For some reason, I turned off the vacuum and reached way down and grabbed it with my two middle fingers. When I looked at it, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what I was holding in my hand.
It was a very small and very old return-address label of my grandmother’s. I had never seen it before. How old must this be that it was printed before zip codes were used? "Columbus 13?" How in the world did it get into my brand-new car? I had never transported photos or old keepsakes or anything like that in my car. Again, I had never even seen this before. I knew instantly this was a sign from my grandmother who had long ago passed away. She is my mother’s mother. I always felt a special closeness with her. In fact, to this day, whenever I hear a distant train whistle, I think of her because I remember listening to those train whistles as I laid in bed as a child those few times that we visited her in Columbus. Here is her old return-address label and I know she is trying to tell me that she was watching over me during this whole break-in. As tears welled in my eyes, I started to cry a soft, knowing cry of gratitude and acknowledgement. I thanked her for watching over me and for so clearly showing me a sign that she was nearby.
After a few minutes, I gathered myself and turned on the vacuum cleaner again. This time, I positioned myself a little closer to that same area in the front seat. As I started to put the crevice tool down that same area between the seats, I looked straight down in that narrow space and saw another piece of paper. What? This one was larger. I squeezed my hand down there and was barely able to pull out what I quickly realized was a photo – a 4x6 color photo. Unbelievable!
Now, this photo I definitely recognized. It was a picture of me and my dog, Tucker visiting my grandmother in her nursing home. It was taken 22 years ago and a few months before she died. How did this get here?! I was blown away – again! I sat motionless and then started to cry, thanking my grandma for so clearly and undeniably showing me that she was here, and she was keeping me safe. I have never experienced anything like this. I could not ask for a more explicit sign that she watched over me. I had been feeling overwhelmed by all that happened, trying to process it all, feeling mixtures of sadness, fear, confusion, and anger. I was dealing with the police, locksmiths, the insurance company, and auto body shops, trying to coordinate all the next steps. I was also trying to consciously guide my process of emotional healing, not wanting to over-experience or under experience what even I had to acknowledge was trauma. She provided these signs to reassure me that she was here and that I would be OK.
Still sitting in the back seat of the car, I realized I better get moving; I was supposed to meet friends for lunch soon at a nearby restaurant. I quickly got changed and got in my car to leave. It is my habit to put on my seat belt, put the car in reverse and turn on my favorite political talk radio show. As I pulled out of my driveway, a thought occurred to me in my mind that was as clear and composed as could be. “Change the channel to a music station; I can’t get a message to you through talk radio.” What was this? More evidence? I had two preset music stations. I didn’t know which one to pick. I told myself to just pick one. I did. A song was ending, with its last few words. Without interruption, the next song began,
“I Can See Clearly Now, the rain has gone, I can see all the obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind, it’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day. Oh, yes, I can make it now, the pain is gone. All of the bad feelings have disappeared. Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for. It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day.”
I was blown away! Here was my grandmother – or someone on the Other Side - expressing even more comfort and reassurance. I reached for another Kleenex. As if that’s not enough, later that day, after I returned from lunch, I called to make a phone appointment with a Medium I had met with once before. I guess I just wanted to share all this and see if he had anything else to add. We set a date and time, but just before hanging up, he told me to wait. He had a woman on the Other Side who was insisting on not waiting until the appointment to send one quick message. I figured it was my grandmother, but no; he determined that it was my mother. He said that the message from her was kind of odd. “She is telling me to tell you to go into the bathroom.” Ha Ha! I recognized her message instantly. This was definitely my mom. I have told this story to many groups at many workshops through the years. Here is the story. Way back, during my first year of college, I was talking long-distance on the phone with my mom, apparently stressing over every kind of crisis – my boyfriend, my classes, not enough money, etc… After patiently listening for a while, my mom finally interrupted with some lighthearted advice, “Kristin Lee, go into the bathroom, turn on the light, look at yourself in the mirror and have a great big laugh! You are taking all this way too seriously; everything will be OK.”
What a day it had been! My mom and her mother had teamed up to be sure I knew that they were there for me. I know that our loved ones get very excited when we finally recognize their presence. I was humbled and overwhelmed by their efforts to express their love for me. Now I have much more of a daily consciousness of their presence and often send a knowing wink their way to acknowledge small signs. I have been blessed with two other major examples of being visited by loved ones who have died. My sister visited me in a powerful dream the night before she passed away. And my mom visited me in the back seat of my car as I raced to Arizona while she was in emergency surgery. She never regained consciousness and died two days later. Perhaps I will share those stories sometime. I know this all sounds a bit unbelievable. The really great news is that you don't have to believe in it in order to experience it.
Make this easy for yourself! Let me come to you!
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