Olivia after returning to our home.
Our family feels like we have experienced a miracle through Olivia that cannot be explained. Rick and I have debated whether we should write this down before we forget some of the details and so I decided to write it down.
First some background so you can understand the story better. Olivia was diagnosed with epilepsy at 22 months old. Since then she has had a spiral of events happen to her including a stroke, several long stays in the hospital and her diagnosis of Alpers' Disease which have all taken a toll on her brain. Olivia came to live with us at 22 months old while her mom Katie (my sister) was battling her personal demons. We became Olivia's legal guardian and she lived with us until May of 2006 when her mom was able to take her back into her home. Katie and the children were abused mentally and physically by Katie's boyfriend until October 23, 2006 when Katie was killed. Olivia found her and watched as the paramedics worked to try and revive her. When we brought her back home she had terrible night terrors for several weeks (we thought) where she would wake up screaming "My mom. my mom".
Katie is buried about 15 minutes from our house in the little town of Dorr, Michigan. The cemetery is called the "Dorr Cemetary". Olivia did not attend the funeral because she was too young, too fragile to understand. Olivia is behind her peers in some areas and fairly appropriate in other ways. She has a very innocent mind and when she tells a lie it's usually obvious to tell that she is lying. It would be something like "Olivia did you take that cookie?" She would say "No- not me" while giggling with her hand behind her back. She just doesn't have the mental capacity to come up with an elaborate story.
There was one detail that bothered me so deeply beside the obvious loss of my sister forever and that was the fact that her purse was missing. The boyfriend had cleaned the apartment out of everything of value; we are assuming while Katie lay dying because they were able to get a small heartbeat back on her and the coroner stated if they had called 911 sooner she may have lived.
I was terribly disturbed by this for some reason that I can't explain. I feel as a woman that my purse says everything about me. It was missing and no one ever found it. The children's Social Security cards, their medicaid cards, her wallet with any money that she may have had, her keys- just anything that was hers was gone! I told everyone how upset I was about it and could not get it out of my mind.
I have only been to the Dorr Cemetery twice since Katie died and my mom has not been able to go there even once. It's just too hard for us. My mom avoided driving through Dorr for months and months afterward.
One afternoon Rick and I were driving through Dorr with the kids to go to Grand Rapids and as we passed the Dorr Cemetery Olivia stated "Hey- my mom lives there! My mom lives there!" The hair stood up on my neck and arms. I looked at Rick and asked him if he heard her? He said to me "She said the same thing a week or so ago when I took her to a doctors appointment but I didn't know she was pointing to the cemetery until now."
I immediately called my mom & step dad to see if they had taken Olivia there. My mom stated "Of course not, I have not been there yet since Katie died and I haven't even driven through Dorr"
Next I called my dad and step mom. Same thing- they never took Olivia there or drove past it with her.
Next I called my step sister and step brothers. No one went there or drove past there with her.
In fact the no one had taken Olivia anywhere except us since her mom died at that point.
We could not explain how Olivia knew that her mom was buried there. No one to this day can explain to us how she knew her mom was there. She has no understanding of what a cemetery is and has no idea where Dorr even is. There IS NO EXPLANATION for it!
We asked Olivia how she knew where her mom lived now. She looked at us like "Duh, don't you know?" She stated plainly "She comes and gets me." We said "How does she come and get you?" She stated "She comes and talks with me and takes me with her when I am sleeping"
A few weeks later she had her last dream where she woke up crying. The next morning we asked her what she was dreaming about and she stated "My mom has a new room and only I can go there- no one else, just me and mom; and mom showed me her new purse."
She stopped waking at night and did not mention it anymore. Two years later on Memorial day was the first time we took the kids to the cemetery. Olivia walked all around and seemed to have no understanding of what the place was and never mentioned anything about her mom. We tried to explain to her that Katie was buried there but she did not seem to get it. We asked her if she has ever been there or remembers that place and she said "No".
I'm sure for someone reading this it may not sound as miraculous as it did to us. For someone who doesn't know Olivia in person it may seem like "Wow, that's a great story but probably not true." I understand, I would probably think that way too, but for our family, we cannot explain how she knew her mom was buried there and we cannot explain how Olivia knew about her mom's purse being gone. We never talked about any of those details anywhere near her.
As a family we have come to the conclusion that no matter what some may say about it, we feel that God allowed Katie to have contact with Olivia to help her. Even if Olivia came up with these dreams on her own to soothe herself after her mom's death, it does not explain how she knew where her mom was buried. She can barely tell you her address- and that's on a good day. Praise God for working in mysterious ways!