This past weekend, I performed a wedding ceremony alongside the shore of Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota. The setting alone was magical, but several things set apart this event as singularly meaningful for me. The first was that my hubby and I took a six-mile walk along the harbor that morning and at the end of the journey encountered a doe and her white-spotted fawn. I knew that was a wonderful omen for the ceremony that would take place later in the day. Then, an otherwise cool-ish, cloudy/foggy day miraculously cleared to temperate sunshine just half an hour before the ceremony. Finally, one of my most poignant experiences of the afterlife and our connection to those on the Other Side, as recounted in my book in the story Mavis’ Ladybug (pg. 76 excerpted below), came back to revisit me.

Mavis’ Ladybug

I was blessed to know a phenomenal woman named Mavis Vitums
for more than a decade. There were more times than I could count
when I saw evidence of her doing the work of angels in people’s lives,
my own included. She was the most giving person I think I’ve ever
known. In her sixty-eight years on Earth, she had fostered dozens
upon dozens of children and later gave homes to adults in need of
foster care, including my stepfather Leonard and his mentally
retarded brother Benjamin, who both lived quite happily in Mavis’
home until their deaths in 2001 and 2003, respectively.
After years of battling numerous forms of cancer and heart disease
— after even having died twice in the ER and been resuscitated — she
finally chose to let herself stop fighting and truly transform into the
celestial being I knew she always was on the inside.
However, while she was in hospice care in her nursing home
room, a few days before she died, I had said to her, “Mavis, we have
to work out an important detail. What are you going to send me as a
sign that you’re around and doing all right once you pass? I want to
be able to recognize it.”
She thought a moment and then said with a grin, “A ladybug.
Red with black spots. I think they’re classy.”
Well, she died on September 19, 2007, and I was to perform a
wedding ceremony on September 21. I’d gone into the ladies’ restroom
at the golf course clubhouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, for a
final freshening up before the ceremony was to begin, and when I
reached into a basket of paper towels to dry my hands, I stopped
short because there, atop the stack of towels was a red ladybug with
black spots!
The members of the bridal party who’d been gathered there waiting
for the big moment said they’d seen it earlier and just thought,
“Oh that’s nice. It’s good luck.”
I told them of Mavis’ promise to send me a ladybug, and they
promptly cursed me out for making them all cry before the ceremony.
I put the bug on my left palm and ran around the party room, showing
as many of the 250 guests and/or wedding party members as I
could find. The ladybug just contentedly sat on my hand, occasionally
stretching its legs and preening but otherwise never budging. I
picked up my note cards and decided I would perform the ceremony
with a bug on my hand. The wedding went off without a hitch; I can’t
imagine where my newfound confidence could have come from!
My husband took a Polaroid picture of this as untampered-with
photographic evidence.
After about an hour of holding my palm turned upward, though, my
hand started to cramp. I said to the ladybug, “I’m going to have to have
you climb up on my dress, okay?”
As if it understood me, it began crawling toward my chest when I held
my hand next to me and wound up positioning itself on my dress approximately
where a brooch would go. It sat there for nearly another half-hour then got a little bit “antsy,” pardon the pun, and crawled along my collar.
I said to it, “Oh, I get it. You have to go now, right? I’ll take you
outside.”
I placed the bug back on my left palm, where it sat, pouting, legs
tucked in and unmoving. My husband, Anthony, and I went outside
to near the waterfall beside which I’d just performed the ceremony.
The ladybug remained motionless until I said, “I see some impatiens
in the rocks over there. I’ll put you there, okay?”
The instant I’d said that, the bug began crawling up my palm to
the tip of my index finger, just like a trained flea circus performer. I
placed my finger next to a leaf on the purple impatiens plant, and the
ladybug readily climbed onto it. I turned for just a second to hug my
husband and say tearfully to the heavens, “Mavis, you rock!”
When I turned back, the ladybug had disappeared.
Later on, as we were leaving, I saw Stacy, a.k.a. the new Mrs. Jake
Adelmann, racing across the parking lot like a runaway bride, only
she was running toward us. She called out, “Tell your friend how
grateful we are she came to our wedding!”

Back to the present-day wedding. After we spotted the two deer that day, I had said aloud to my husband, Anthony, “Now all we need is a ladybug to make this wedding perfect!”

After the ceremony, Anthony and I were assigned seats at the table with the groom’s parents, grandparents and other family friends for the reception dinner. Later on in the evening, I was chatting with one of the family friends about my book, because she and her husband are animal lovers and she’d shared that her own neighbor had just lost her young chihuahua who’d been hit by a car, and for some reason I’d just started sharing the “Mavis’ Ladybug” story when my eye was suddenly drawn to the table’s centerpiece (made, I later found out, by the bride’s mother). Earlier on, I’d seen two ceramic mushrooms standing in a bed of succulent-like ground cover, thought it was a lovely arrangement  but investigated it no further. When I took a closer look, however, chills broke out on my arms and I squealed in delight.

Set in the center of the table’s decoration was a vintage-looking box with the word and a picture of a LADYBUG. In its open slot was a ceramic ladybug itself! This was the only design of its kind in the whole room, and I was seated next to it! I took a photo of the arrangement as evidence, yet again, that Mavis was watching over me.  (Double click on the photo to see it enlarged for detail.)

If all this weren’t twitterpating enough, I learned the reason the bride’s mother had chosen this particular item was because when her daughter was a teenager, her nickname was “Ladybug”!! (When she saw me totally spazzing over it, the bride’s mother kindly agreed to go to the store where she’d found this one and send me one of the ladybugs as a memento. Anthony gave her the money to cover the purchase.)

Then, she topped all this off by my telling me that she and her husband had seven adopted children and, over the years, 19 fostered kids—giving homes and love to those who need it most—just like Mavis had!!! Don’t hand me “coincidence” here. This is what miracles are made of in my world!

Mavis, you continue to rock, nearly three years after your passing from this physical plane!! The afterlife connections continue, and I am forever grateful!

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