It was the fourth of July, 2019. I had left California to visit my family in Minnesota, when suddenly I got the news that a large 6.4 earthquake had hit Southern California. As a girl who lived in LA for 15 years, I still have a lot of friends in the area, so I immediately looked for the epicenter of the quake to understand who was affected. I received text messages from friends saying “It must have been centered far away…” and “thank goodness it happened where it did….” But when I looked at the epicenter, my heart sank.
One of my dearest cousins moved to Ridgecrest just a few years ago with her husband and children. They just bought a house a few months ago. She’s never been in a major quake before. I immediately picked up the phone and called her - no answer. I texted her, “are you okay?” I texted her mom, “Have you heard from her?” My worry was immediately relieved as she called me back to say “I’m fine! I’m in Texas! The whole family is in Texas!” PHEW.
We talked for a few minutes before she had to hang up because her neighbor, who she had tasked to watch her two dogs while she was away, was calling with an update. Anyone who has pets knows that they are as much a part of your family as your own partner or child, so knowing they were alone during this quake, and not knowing how they fared, was number one on my cousin’s mind.
Her neighbor told her that the dogs were okay, but that her house was “a mess,” as things had fallen because of the shaking. My cousin’s husband would be heading home on Saturday to pick up the dogs and assess the damage. Then the 7.1 hit on Friday night. While they knew the dogs were okay, the state of their house was anyone’s guess.
When he got home, my cousin’s husband Facetimed her, showing her all the damage in the house. It was a disaster. Literally e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that had been on a shelf had fallen, shattered, spilled, crashed, tumbled to the floor.
Except for Michelle.
Michelle was my cousin’s very best friend, her soul sister, her most favorite person. And she died just a few years ago in extremely tragic and unexpected circumstances (right after my cousin moved to Ridgecrest). I never knew Michelle, but my cousin had asked me for a reading once to help her with some unanswered questions, and to know her sweet friend was thriving in the afterlife. In that reading, Michelle told her that she’d always be with her, watch over her, protect her and would give her many, many signs so my cousin would know that she was there.
My cousin has a small box that holds some of Michelle’s ashes, and she had placed the box on a shelf in her bedroom. As my cousin’s husband went through the house taking stock of the damage, he stopped at this shelf. Because it was the only shelf in the house still holding it’s contents. Still holding Michelle. Intact, as if in defiance of the devastation that had just happened.
In hindsight, we recognize that not only is it a miracle that she “survived” this quake, but that this, too, was a sign from her, letting my cousin know that not only is she okay - but that she was there, protecting the fur babies - when my cousin couldn’t be.
I tell this story as a reminder that our loved ones never truly leave us. They want us to know they are around. They still care, and still look out for us. And this is a testament to that fact. Michelle didn’t need to go through that quake, but she did knowing that the dogs needed protecting, and knowing that had her ashes fallen and spilled it would have been devastating. And that’s not what Michelle is about. She’s a warrior who wants to share her love and preserve the happiness of her soul sister for as long as she can (and since time doesn’t exist in the spirit world, that means an eternity)!