"Some women are lost in the fire. Some women are built from it."
—Michelle K.
The Fire Within Blog
A Guardian Angel Stronger Than Pain

What I’m going to write about I can’t fully explain. There was a time when I would have been skeptical of my own forthcoming words.

But here goes…

I’m certain that I’m in touch with another plain of existence due to my pain. To be precise, it’s a person I deeply love, a person I was never blessed to meet.

My aunt Grace has always been bigger than life to me, an angel who I named my work for. Like me, she was in the vortex of monumental generational trauma, the bread and butter of our family.

Despite my grandmother disowning Grace, her oldest daughter, then having her only other child, my mother, kidnapped, and then her ex-husband, my grandfather, committed, Grace managed to keep her feet planted on the ground. With grit and dogged determination, she ran Grandpa’s dairy farm, regularly brought food to my mother, who was being starved by my grandmother, and eventually got her father out of the asylum. That’s a lot on one pair of shoulders.

Grace paid the ultimate price for her goodness in the jaws of trauma when she died from leukemia at age 20 in 1947. I’ve always been compared to my sweet aunt, and even repeated the familial illness pattern when I got Complex Regional Pain Syndrome at the same age, ending my life in a different way.

When I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2019 and told by my doctors that the toll of fixing my dysfunctional family was the cause of my cancer and decades of pain, I brought Grace into my daily rituals and meditations for comfort. I was in treatment hell, and her essence was safe and loving and healing. With time, I discovered that Grace was my guardian angel.

When I brought this seemingly illogical ritual up with a respected integrative medicine colleague, he advised that “Ancestral Healing” is a real thing, something Native American people have done for millennia. He went on to share, “You instinctively knew to go there, Cynthia, because healing their trauma will heal your own.”

Over the last year, my daily conversations with Grace became so intense, I began asking her to visit me at my condo. The love I felt for her was profound and reciprocated so strongly, I just had to have her near.

You see, 2023 was the worst year of my life. After fighting a cancer recurrence, complications left me in the hospital near death. Then I had ever-piling pain problems seemingly signed, sealed and delivered from a dark realm. This led to crushing isolation compounded by COVID protocols, as I feared its long version would end me. I desperately needed my angel.

This is when things got inexplicable, straining the boundaries of human logic and reason.

It started dead of night Christmas morning. My partner, John, and I have a tradition of keeping a small, faux tree in our bedroom, and this year we added a ballerina snow-globe to our light show.

Somehow, though one ran on battery and the other via cord, they both turned off while we slept. After checking them, we turned them back on, only to witness them go off a second time simultaneously later that morning.  Separate power sources, no timers, no condo power outage. The first time was beyond baffling, the second time I just knew. Grace had accepted my invitation.

Both light show objects went off as many times as I could turn them back on during the season, and it felt loving and magical to know Grace was with me. During this time, John recalled an incident shortly before Christmas. He was in our condo plaza giving our kitty some outdoor time, when he distinctly heard a friendly young woman say, “Hello, John.” The weird part was that no one was there. He only later connected the dots.

When the dreaded day came to take Christmas decor down, I sobbed and John’s eyes welled. It felt like we were saying goodbye to Grace until next year. But the “miracles” kept rolling.

That night, to curb our loss, I put up a large butterfly nightlight (run by batteries) given to me by a close girlfriend for my New Year’s Eve birthday. You guessed it. The next morning it was off.  Then the next, and the next. No timer, even changed the batteries. As of this writing, my butterfly goes off up to five times a night.

Other mystical things have happened, too numerous to mention, though they include a tree-top vintage angel, another vocal communication from a young woman and the number 1111, which I’ve learned signifies the nearness of a guardian angel. I still speak intimately to Grace every day during my Ancestral Healing work and have no doubt she salved me through the worst year of my life. You see, Grace is stronger than pain.

What do I make of all of this? I asked Grace to come, and she did. Every day I ask her to come again, and she does. I think she’s made herself known because I was in the right place and space to receive her love. I needed her like no other time.

And having her here, watching over me, comforting me, guiding me, eases my body and soul. I feel blessed, like I’m absorbed in a healing light of well-being. I’ve gone from a life of illness and desperation to one of wellness and gratitude. I’m even pursuing passions I’d let go of for far too long.

I’ve come to believe that the universe bestows other-worldly gifts upon those who experience great loss. I also believe we women in pain are more sensitive than others, which is, in part, why we have pain. But that sensitivity, that portal if you will, can bring us blessings more powerful than pain – if we are prepared to receive and believe.

He, she, it, they are ready to help, to guide, to ease. Seek the sacred and be open to its grace…