Dinner with Dani and Greg 2011

Driving the few miles from
my hotel toward the Marina Del Rey penthouse Dani and Greg were so proud of and seeing once again where they both spent a year of their lives, gives me an incredibly bittersweet feeling.

I imagine Dani on these paths as she walked her precious dogs. She smiled and said hello to everyone she passed. As I stood at the bay, outside her waterfront complex listening to the sea otters and watching the boats come in and out of the bay, I imagine Dani breathing in the California air I now breathe. In the very next town was her office, nearby her boyfriend’s company. There in the distance is the grocery store where she loved to buy her groceries. The shopping plaza with outdoor seating is within walking distance although her favorite coffee shop is now gone. By happenstance, my husband and I stumbled upon the amazing tucked away restaurant where we once took her to dinner. We both reminisced about what are now familiar surroundings and it recreates a magical vision in my mind of the many times my we enjoyed “visits with my daughter.”

It has been 10 years and today I walk these same streets with my daughter. This time, however, the daughter I hold close is Dani’s youngest sister, her “mini me.” It is such a beautiful moment as I walk and search my mind to grasp all the joy my heart felt back then and sift it together with the precious hand I now hold. As I slowly begin to let go of the tender feelings inside, I cherish more and more this priceless visit with my daughter.

How small of a world is it that Dani’s “baby sister” would now choose to settle very near Dani’s former town, thousands of miles away from her own home of 27 years? She is not chasing Dani’s memory or seeking to recreate a life gone by, she is actually living with Dani’s warmth in her heart. Is it fate (or is it God) allowing Dani to move the pieces of her sister’s life around to take her where she will be able to find peace and continue to grow into the incredible person she was created to be?

Yes, the world continues to move forward even when I thought it wasn’t possible. I still have moments where I feel trapped in time, looking so hard for a sign from Dani to confirm she knows we are here, in her world, and managing to smile.

Without a doubt I find them – in the butterfly that floats between her sister and me moments before our first hug of the visit – in the penny (not one but two) hidden in the crack of the floor of a small retail establishment reminding me of my mom’s promise that pennies will drop down from heaven when I need them most – and finally in the first thunderstorm this city experienced in over ten years, that displays a spectacular lightning show over our hotel and reminds me of the laughter Dani and I always shared when the clouds opened up and the rain fell seemingly every time I visited Dani in her “sunshine state.” The rain always came with or because of my visits, she would laughingly claim.

Is this the continuation of a tradition or is just a familiar way Dani speaks to me as I experience yet another amazing visit with my daughter? Her bright smile and contagious laugh will always be remembered, but never will I miss a chance to share another visit with my daughter.