Tuesday, on my birthday, I received the most wonderful birthday greeting from my three-year-old daughter Courtney, through a beautiful sister named Sarah.
On Monday, I went to the store to buy some groceries, and stopped next door at my favorite nail salon to make an appointment for a pedicure. My manicurist told me I could come by Tuesday at 3:45pm. Perfect, a birthday gift to myself:)
That afternoon, as my manicurist started working on my toes, I noticed a client with pretty long blonde hair, maybe 20 years my younger, take a seat in the waiting area by my chair while her nails dried. I talked to my manicurist about Taiwan and being gone for three years. After she finished, she set up a place for me to sit as well, a couple of chairs down from this pretty blonde. I started to read Jesus the Christ, I was on the last chapter.
A few minutes later, with a friendly smile, the pretty blonde handed me her iPhone, open to her Notes. I took it and read:
Hi, my name is Sarah.
I have something a bit unusual to tell you.
Hope it's okay. I'll just tap it out here.
I met your daughter Courtney in the park around March.
She just popped in.
She asked me to tell the missionaries to go tell her parents about HER (I meet the missionaries in the park). She told me her parents would be VERY happy to see the missionaries. That they love missionaries.
Which made me think that they may have been Mormons....
She wanted you to know she was absolutely fine.
Wanting to do as she asked, I looked at the memorial plaque and tree...figured it had been a long time and her family would no longer be around.
And well I actually felt too awkward to tell the missionaries.
She hung around with me for probably over a month or more.
She is very happy. I can tell you she has the type of personality where she gets very excited. Like when she had something to show me. She would want me to hurry up. Like "look now."
Later...about a month after meeting her...out of the blue someone [at church] told me about her and your family.
After that she wanted "tall flowers" and a shell.
I'm not sure of the significance of the shell.
That's about everything.
Hope it's okay that I'm telling you.
I’m sure you can imagine the range of emotions and the tears that welled up as I looked into the eyes of this sensitive woman, whom I had never seen before, whose name was Sarah. It was apparent to me that Sarah had a very special gift. I asked Sarah if she was a member of our church, and she said she started attending our ward about a year ago. As Sarah said in her note, one day around April, she met a friend of mine who randomly started to talk about losing loved ones. She mentioned our family. Then Sarah came to know about Courtney's family.
I sat in awe that the Lord, in His tender mercy, would send this smiling blonde angel to me on my birthday. But how did Sarah know I was Courtney's mother? As she waited for her nails to dry, she heard me mention Taiwan. She saw I was reading Jesus the Christ. She started to tap out her note to me. She must have felt a strong prompting to share her experience. I marveled that she had the courage to give it to a perfect stranger. I know Courtney must have been very happy.
Here is a picture that Sarah took on May 23 of the flowers she planted:
Later that evening on my birthday, I went by the memorial...
and found the shells Sarah had added, as Courtney had requested:
Sarah didn't know the significance of the shell, but I did.
I had just unpacked this very special shell a few days ago:
In 2010, a dear sweet friend of mine had placed some flowers on the memorial, adorned with this special shell. Of all the infinite different kinds of seashells in the ocean, does it surprise you that Sarah chose the very same white ridged shells?
My new friend Sarah:
Throughout our mission these past three years, I have had the privilege to bear my testimony of the Savior’s eternal Plan of Salvation. There is no doubt in my mind that Courtney’s spirit is alive in paradise, well, and watching over me and my loved ones. And I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who pours His tender mercies upon His earthly children to strengthen us in this life and give us hope and peace for the next life.