83: Misty Moments

83: Misty Moments

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven

Misty Moments

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

~William James

Shara was a tall, lanky eleven-year-old with short curly auburn hair and eyes that glinted with mischief when I first met her that December. Her dad affectionately called her “string bean.” Two years later, Shara and her younger sister became my stepdaughters. It was a busy home life with my own two daughters and visits from Shara and her sister on weekends.

Shara was the eldest of the four girls, upbeat about life. She was lighthearted and indulged in pulling pranks on her siblings. Her father and I were not immune to such tricks either. As the years went on she became a friend as well as a cherished daughter. During our conversations when we found some alone time, we would talk about matters that perturbed or frustrated us. Quite often she would just smile and say, “Don’t worry about it, it’s just small stuff anyway.”

Tragically, two days after her thirty-sixth birthday, she was taken from us as a result of a workplace accident. A void was left in our lives that we couldn’t fill. As the weeks went on, engulfed in a fog, I started to feel a presence in the house, nothing menacing, just a warm glow.

One evening as I was settling into bed and almost asleep, I startled as I sensed someone in the room. Turning around, I saw Shara, surrounded by a faint silhouette of light. She smiled at me with an impish look and spoke, at the same time laughing softly, “I didn’t mean to scare you.” I had heard that sentence many times when Shara was younger, as she would enjoy catching me unaware and try to get a reaction. I was about to speak, but she disappeared as quickly as she had arrived. That incident provided some peace of mind. I felt she was in a happy place; otherwise why would she be so mischievous?

As the weeks passed, my life took a bit of a downward spiral. My best friend for the past fifty years passed away. Any joy I had left quickly diminished as I focused more on the doom and gloom of life instead of the good. I had also been caring for an elderly parent the past six years and that proved more challenging each day. Minor irritations became huge in my mind and it was getting increasingly difficult to cope.

Trivial matters would upset me, such as forgetting something at the grocery store, or finding the car was low on gas, or getting my zipper stuck in my jacket and, oh yes, my hair required some major attention. That last thought brought a memory to mind. Shara sometimes messed up my hair to make it look free and easy, as she would say with a laugh. Her hair was quite often that way. She didn’t stress about having a perfect hairdo all the time. Maybe I needed to calm down a little more. There were certainly more important matters that needed my attention.

One evening, my sleep was fitful. The frustrations of the day kept circling in my mind. Uptight, I got up to get a glass of water in the bathroom. The full moon was brilliant that night and shone directly through the bathroom window, eliminating the need to turn on a light. As I entered, I found Shara standing by the sink looking into the mirror. Again, that slight aura hovered around her. She was so close I could touch her, but instead I just stared, frozen, unable to utter a word.

At that moment, as if on cue, she turned around, eyes twinkling and smiling that beautiful smile. She motioned to her hair and then mine, and made a gesture with her hands as if to say, what can you do about it? I laughed and was just about to say something but she quickly faded. She was reminding me to let go of minor details.

Returning to bed, a strong feeling overcame me. I felt more at peace because I saw that no sadness surrounded her. I never had another visit from Shara, but those misty visions had provided me with some assurance that she had passed through on her way to a lovely place.

Life went on, with little details going wrong and still causing unnecessary frustration in my daily living. Then, one afternoon, as I organized some books on a higher shelf in my already bulging bookcase, a book wedged in the back came tumbling down, striking my nose in the process. Irked by this and my clumsiness, I angrily tossed the book across the room. Realizing the silliness of my reaction, I retrieved the dust-covered book and read the title: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. I had forgotten about receiving that book many years ago and couldn’t remember how I had acquired it. As I leafed through the dog-eared pages, curiosity got the better of me and I turned to the first page. My heart seemed to skip as I read the inscription, in beautiful handwriting, “Happy Birthday, Love Shara.” A final message from heaven? I believe so.

Shara has been gone for four years, still touching my heart whenever I look at her picture, seeing the light in her eyes, reminding me to not stress about the little things.

~Christiana Flanigan

More stories from our partners