back                                                                                                                     Updated Thursday October 21, 2004

Val's busy Afterlife

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As Valerie's family and friends grieved yesterday our loss, and were at the same time grateful that she was no longer imprisoned in a body that was restricted to a wheelchair and failing fast, close to being unable to eat or speak at all, Valerie herself was making it clear to several people that she is now joyously happy to be free. Typical for Val she has been everywhere at once, communicating, reassuring and comforting.

Here are the stories that some of Val's friends and family related of their experiences yesterday, Wednesday, the day of Valerie's passing at about 2 AM.  My notes are in parentheses.   (Joe)



An old and close friend of Val's from childhood, high school and Costa Rica, now in Minnesota. (excerpts from an e-mail)

Hello Dear Val,  
For some reason, I'm up at 2 am and find myself reading the tribute & bio of your life.You are truly an amazing person;  the only person I know who is a totally free spirit.
I'm praying that when your time comes to fly free -free as a bird- it will be so beautiful & beyond anything you've ever witnessed. 
In church last week, I visualized your face surrounded by a brilliant light with smiling pansies,violets & roses.
You were smiling too.
Give me a little nudge or tap on the shoulder in your travels.


Kelly Val's niece in Tennessee, in conversation with her mother, Vanessa, who had called to tell Kelly of Val's passing.    (As related by Vanessa to her mother, Bea, and sister Tina, who were here at the house.   Paraphrased)

Oh, hi Mom. I know why you're calling.
What do you mean?
I know why you're calling. Aunt Valerie passed away last night.
Well, yes she did. How do you know?
I had a dream last night. I was in Montana. We were all picking apples for the pies (as we actually had last week when everyone was here) and Aunt Valerie was there too. I was on top of the ladder and looking at her. She was smiling and walking backwards, waving to me. As she walked backwards she just faded away to black. I knew what it meant and I wasn't scared or sad at all. It was peaceful.


Kathy My niece in Georgia, in an e-mail to her mother, Michele.

(Michele told me over the phone that Kathy was at her computer looking at this website   expecting to see the notice of Val's passing at the exact time I posted the page about it;  Here is why she was expecting to see it...  from an e-mail to Michele.)

"I had a dream last night - she was free and came to me to give me a hug. . .   She had her body back. It was beautiful."


Deborah Kathy's sister, Deb, and her husband Glenn are spending their third season on the ice in Antarctica.  (entirety of an e-mail to her mother)

When I woke up this morning, I thought she may be gone - the song in my head sometime in the night and in the morning when I woke up was a Tracy Chapman song from the Let it Rain album:

     Sing hallelujah! throw up your hands, the bucket is kicked, the body is gone...
     It's a wonderful life, put a smile on your face, {she}wouldn't want us to cry...
     Raise your eyes, and don't say good bye, we're all gonna meet you on the other side.

And when Glenn turned on the TV to look at the weather, and (before he changed the channel) I heard the song "I'll fly away" because it was at that scene in "O, brother where art thou"  I think I knew at that point for sure...

     I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away, (in the morning).
     When I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll fly away.

     Just a few more weary days and then, I'll fly away.
     to a land where joys will never end, I'll fly away.

     I'll fly away, o glory, I'll fly away.
     when I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll fly away.


Chuck My sister Michele's husband, my brother-in-law (her words in an e-mail to me)

"Chuck said that he awoke around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning and thought that this was the time of the darkest of the night when souls passed over from this life to the next, and wondered if this would be the night that Val left us."

"He was touched with a sense of peace and feel back to sleep."

"He thought no more about it until I was telling him of our daughters and their experiences of Val telling them goodbye for now, and then he shared that with me."


Neelna Val's friend and masseuse, as she related to me just a few hours ago.

I didn't sleep Tuesday night, I was all teary and emotional. I was at my computer writing a goodbye letter to Val when my e-mail application crashed. I  was sure it was Val's spirit up to no good. (Neelna said laughing.)


Mo A friend of Val's here in the Bitterroot

   ...couldn't sleep Tuesday night thinking of Val


Sherry A friend of Val's in Missoula

   ...couldn't sleep Tuesday night thinking of Val


Eve Val's friend and masseuse, as she related to me yesterday, Wednesday

I had just finished my morning workout and was going into the locker room when I got the call from Marnie about Val. As soon as I hung up, her face suddenly appeared before me. She was Happy - Happy - Happy!  She said  "I'm free!!! I can go anywhere! I love you all! Bye! and was gone in a happy rush.


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So what's with the dragonfly?
Val has always loved dragonflies, and has garden art sculptures of them in her garden.

Before her shunt surgery, Val had asked that Jim Tree, a Native American shaman and Pipe Keeper to pray for her. He agreed, and also on the day of the surgery he met with her spirit as she was sinking into the anesthetic. He said she was accompanied by, surrounded and protected by, and radiating the energy of, a deep indigo-blue iridescent dragonfly.    

Some weeks later, his partner, Laura, 'noticed' (she said it "jumped out" at her) a deep blue stained- glass dragonfly suncatcher while in Butterfly Herbs in Missoula. She immediately thought "I have to get that for Valerie."  Monday of this week Laura presented Valerie with it  ..."to help her remember who she is and who is with her."  (photo at top of page)

At Valerie's request, Tuesday Jim did a Crossing Over pipe ceremony for her. As he was speaking about it before he passed the pipe around the circle, he used the analogy of butterflies and dragonflies - how what may seem like death to a caterpillar or nymph is a actually a change to a different state of being, transformation into a beautiful winged creature.

So two more stories now, both dealing with dragonflies.


Craig A friend of Val's here in the valley. He works with telephone communications equipment and wiring. (In his words approximately as he told it to me)

Wednesday morning I was working at a house on a junction box outside. A dragonfly landed very close my side. I knew it was Val because it had beautiful green spots all along its sides; you know Val held the color green in the Angel Gateway work we have done together. As I looked at it, it turned toward me , reached up with a foot and tapped its head. I said 'Yes, I know you. You are Valerie' Then it flew away.


Joe After the mortuary had taken Val's body away Wednesday morning, I pulled the soiled sheets and mattress pad off the bed and put them in the washer. Then I took the egg-crate foam cushion that was on top of the mattress outside and put it on the lawn in the sun to dry and air.

A few hours later it was threatening to rain so I went out to bring the foam in. In the exact center of the foam cushion was a dragonfly. My son Ian was outside and I called him over to look at it.  Marnie and Kristen were just leaving the house and as I called to them and they saw what it was they said "There she is; she's back already."  My mother, Rita walked by and we showed it to her as well. Since the weather has been cold and we haven't seen dragonflies for weeks we marveled at the event.

By now it was starting to rain and the dragonfly refused to be dislodged, so Ian and I carried the foam inside on edge vertically, careful not to bump the insect. We laid the foam back on top of the bed and went about our business. An hour or so later it was gone from the foam and we found it at the corner of the window. I coaxed it onto my finger and carried it into the dining room. Since it ws seemingly not in a hurry to leave, Ian and I examined and admired it in my hand for some time.

Then I stepped onto the deck outside and as I whispered to it  'Fly free.' the dragonfly shot straight up out of sight.


dragonfly6.jpg (12366 bytes) "The essence of summer", "among the most beautiful and attractive of all insects" are some of the phrases  accounts have used to describe dragonflies.  Dragonflies are aquatic insects which belong to the insect Order Odonata and have existed almost unchanged for over 300 million years. Some 5300 species have been described worldwide. 

Here is a group of conspicuous, highly colourful and attractive yet harmless insects that actually do things other than annoy humans and other animals! The adults (and larvae) are active hunters. They are such fast, powerful and agile flyers there is essentially no other insect they cannot catch. Many are strongly territorial, some are migratory and many will actually respond to your presence. It can be a surprise to people when they discover that dragonflies live close to them, unnoticed until a flash of bright colours attracts their attention. Even in the heart of large towns and cities, dragonflies can be seen, and by building garden ponds can be enticed close to our homes.

Some good articles on dragonflies can be found at: