I first published this story on my website and then in the book I wrote on my experiences, Dogged Days. Reading it still brings a quivering heart and tears to my eyes, talking about it too. It’s sad but it is also rather wonderful.
An Angel in our Midst
In 1997 I was living in Perth, Western Australia, most of my family were too, but one of my brothers, his wife and 3 beautiful daughters – the youngest are twins – were living in England.
It was December, winter time in England, and kids were sniffing and sneezing with the latest version of the season’s ailments. Tyffany, just 9-years-old, and the eldest, complained of a sore throat, and feeling under the weather – a bit achy. She was taken to see the local doctor who gave her some antibiotics and urged a snug rest at home for a few days. As was expected she got a bit worse during the day. Her mum, dad and little sisters made sure that she was well looked after with whatever she needed, and made her as comfortable as possible. Later in the evening Tyffany went off to bed aiming to feel better in the morning. She loved going to school and playing with her many friends – she had missed them and wondered how they were getting on with the busy Christmas events and other things they were involved in.
In the middle of the night – the early hours, Tyff got up to go to the bathroom. Mum and dad heard her and got up to see how she was. She felt no better and in fact said she felt a bit worse; and just as we all say in such circumstances, Tyff’s mum and dad advised her to go back to bed and promised she’d feel much better in the morning.
Dad was up first – he had to be at work early. He popped his head round the door to see how his darling Tyff was. The shock and realisation was instant! He screamed and his wife darted out of bed. Tyffany had died in the night.
The devastating impact of losing a beloved child is indescribable. Nothing compares. Most of the family were in Australia but everyone knew Tyffany very well. She was one of those kids who shone -really shone. There was something very special about Tyff; and those were the precise words I left my brother with when I last saw her at their house in the November before she died.
As news of Tyffany’s sudden passing reached her school, friends and teachers tributes flooded into her family home. Little drawings, toys, poems and scores of letters relating how Tyffany had done something very special for them and how everyone loved her for the unique qualities she shared. Tyffany was a gifted artist and sportswoman; she loved football and could match and beat the boys on any day. She supported Newcastle United. Always she was there to encourage and support other youngsters who were experiencing tough times. Her smile had such serenity, and her aura…well it was tangible even to the most insensitive of people who encountered her. Just being with her I’m sure healed so many. We had an angel in our midst.
The family welded together. Absolute support and love poured from all of our hearts and into the little family unit back in England. Fortunately there were still some close family in England for my brother, sister-in-law and two nieces. One sister flew from America and another two siblings from Australia. The rest of us kept in constant contact by telephone. We were all heartbroken.
And it wasn’t just the family, the whole village, the school and several amazing friends gained throughout my brother, and sister-in-law’s lifetime united as one in support and grieving for the little girl who had given so much and the family her spirit had chosen to live with. Tyffany’s head teacher describing Tyffany said, “She is an absolutely wonderful child with a little magic about her”. The local newspaper, the ‘Oxford Mail’ showed a compassion and intelligence that is rarely seen these days in media. They were brilliant. I thank you all for everything you did.
Tyffany’s funeral was held in the large village church. It was packed. The service included Tyffany’s favourite song, “Together Again” by Janet Jackson, and a heart rending poem written and read by her cousin. Tyffany’s grave, brimming with flowers and piled high and wide with little treasures, favourite toys and keepsakes left by her young friends is still a frequent quiet place for many who still hold her memory in their hearts.
Those of us who couldn’t make it to England for the funeral held our own quiet moments at the same time. We sent our love and our prayers to her mum and dad, her sisters, and to each and every one of us so painfully overwhelmed and feeling so bereft.
Although I hadn’t attended church for a long time some months previous to this I had the urge to attend a spiritualist church in Perth. I’d never been before. I walked into the little church and sat down a few rows from the front cold winds flowed around my legs and I looked around to see whether there was a door open or air-conditioning on, there wasn’t either. After a minute or so the winds vanished and I felt my hair moving. I looked around but there was no one close enough and then I heard breathless whispering in my ear. I couldn’t understand what was being said. I enjoyed the service and went another couple of times before lapsing into my previous no-shows.
On the Sunday after Tyffany died it felt so natural to go to this little church in Maylands. I arrived about 5 minutes before the service was scheduled to begin and was surprised to find that the room was full – that was except for one complete row of wooden chairs to the right hand side as I faced the platform. I walked along the row of chairs to the wall but did not sit on the end chair, instead choosing the one before.
As I sat down my hands began to tingle and my skin broke out in goose bumps. A movement next to me, on my right, drew my attention…there on the chair between me and the wall was Tyffany. She sat there happy and smiling sitting on her hands and swinging her legs to and fro under the chair seat. She was wearing a football kit, but not Newcastle United’s, a pair of white shorts, a blue football shirt, white socks and football boots. Tyff listened to the minister, giggling and looking around now and again and joined in energetically with the singing. At one point, in a quiet moment, she turned to me…I’ll never forget it…she looked me in the eye and said, “Tell my dad I love him and I’m going to leave a white feather for him. He has to know that I will always be around.” I felt a gentle touch on my arm, a sweet fragrance lingered for a heartbeat…and she was gone.
As I drove home I replayed everything in my head. I was elated, puzzled, excited and not a little apprehensive. Did I imagine it? If I didn’t, why did Tyffany choose to visit me? She didn’t know me as well as some other members of the family. But then, thinking about it, perhaps she knew me very well. This wasn’t the first time souls who have passed on have come to me. Her message of love to her dad was entirely in keeping with her manner whilst she was alive. She knew, as I did, that her dad would be the one who found his grief the hardest to deal with. He has always been extremely deep, yet very emotional. She wanted to comfort him, instil some hope, and above all let him know that everything is all right. Did he blame himself? In such times it is easy to be irrational – to think that perhaps we could have done something that would have changed the outcome. Of course he couldn’t have.
At first I didn’t think about why she wanted to leave my brother a feather. I suppose I just accepted that it was…well, a present. But it is an enormously significant symbolic offering. It stands for peace and love, purity, harmony, acceptance, and for transmutation – perfect! And besides, Tyffany knew that my brother would surely need a physical sign to support the message she had charged me to deliver.
But, would there be a feather? It would, I pondered, have to appear in a circumstance that was entirely unusual. Otherwise who was to say that some bird hadn’t dropped it or a pillow sprung a leak? I have to admit that the task of relaying a paranormal message to my distraught brother at such a sensitive time was not one I relished at all. Yet, although every part of me knew I had to, I wrestled with concerns about how this message would be received. Yes my brother is an open-minded person with unusual experiences of his own – but under these circumstances could he be expected to accept that his darling little girl appeared to his brother giving him a message on the other side of the world to pass on to him; and to compound matters the message could not be delivered in person. He would hear it by telephone. Would he feel that I was an insensitive brute playing hairy-fairy games at his expense?
In the end though I knew that my encounter with Tyffany was real; every second of it was etched into my consciousness. My fears and doubts had no place in what had to be done I had to trust that Tyffany knew what she was doing in every sense. So the next evening I phoned England…
My brother answered the phone, the tears and despair so evident in his voice. “Hello Ell” he answered. I silently prayed for the strength and eloquence to relate the circumstances and contents of Tyffany’s message…and then began.
He listened to everything I said without comment. I don’t know what I expected him to say really…there was silence, and I instantly suspected that I had made a huge mistake. We talked a little about what was happening and how they were coping. And then he said, “I love you Ell – thanks.” A little light had pierced the sadness in that little corner of England – and Tyffany had been the one to do it again.
A few days later I spoke to my sister-in-law on the phone.
“Eddie told me about what happened,” she said. “He’s been looking for a white feather wherever he goes.”
“Has he found one yet?” I asked.
“No, but he’ll keep looking,” she replied.
Jane sounded a little less fraught too. Perhaps the message had helped. I hoped it had. And I really wanted that feather to turn up.
A few days later I heard that my brother had arrived home from work, was about to step through the front door, when there right at his feet was a little white feather. He clutched the precious feather to his heart and his cheek, allowing a rare tear, gulped and rushed in to show it to his wife. The little white feather was tucked tenderly into his wallet – and there it stays to this very day.
But was this the promised gift from Tyffany? Maybe it was but then it could have got there by any number of means. I have to admit I did let an element of doubt creep into my mind. My brother felt it was that precious treasure – and who was I to voice doubts? It brightened his life and that meant more to me than anything my sceptical mind could propose. To my shame, though my lifelong experiences had continuously presented evidence that life is eternal, I had less confidence in the reliability of something I was intimately involved in than my brother had in the integrity of his older brother, and at a time when he far more than I was entitled to disbelieve.
Yet in my heart I did know, with absolute certainty, that I had had an encounter with an inspirational little girl spirit in a little church in Maylands, Perth, Western Australia; and that she had given me a message of love and hope which she had trusted me to pass on to her grieving dad: one that helped him and her mum to cope with the most terrible loss of all. I determined that I would accept that the little white feather was the one that Tyffany had declared to me she would leave for her adored dad. And that was that.
A few weeks went by, maybe a couple of months. Early one morning I grabbed my work clobber and hurried down the steps to my car. As I put the key in the car door I noticed right in the middle of the driver’s seat…a large, pristine, fluffy white feather!
I opened the door and carefully picked the feather up. How could it have got there?
Had little Tyffany left a feather for me too? She must have. She hadn’t told me that she would but Eddie had found his. But was the feather my brother found the one that she had promised him. I was delighted, in awe, and confused about what I should do. I ran inside and showed it to my partner.
“It must be for you,” she said. “It’s a thank you.”
I carefully carried the feather into my study, placed it on a shelf next to a photograph of Tyffany and said a quiet thank you.
Sometimes I would take it down when I thought about Tyffany, her mum and her dad and sisters. And every so often I still wondered, “Is this feather meant for me?”
When I moved house I carried the precious feather separately to keep it safe. In the new house I kept it on a shelf in my study there too. Then one day, for no apparent reason, I couldn’t find it any more. I searched everywhere I could think of. Every room, cupboard, drawer, desk and even places I knew it couldn’t possibly be, all over the house. I even searched the loft and the sheds; but the feather had disappeared. I asked everyone and racked my mind trying to locate it. I have always been so good at finding things but I couldn’t find this. Only one place remained, my no-longer used travel bag that I used to take when I did readings at Psychic Fairs; and even though a picture of it kept flashing into my mind I didn’t want to look there…because if it wasn’t there, then I would know for certain, the priceless feather was gone.
I avoided looking for weeks. Every day I would think to myself, “I’ll have a look, it must be there.” And I chastised myself frequently for being so careless. How could I lose something so wonderful, so miraculous? Who knows what effort was required to materialise a pristine white feather inside a locked car, on the driver’s seat where it was sure to be noticed? I really couldn’t face up to the loss. So long as I didn’t look then I could always hold on to the slim hope that it was there, in the travel bag. Though I wouldn’t have put it there I just had to have hope.
Then one night Tyffany came to me in a dream. She thanked me for passing her message on to her dad and then said, “There is going to be a new baby boy in the family.” That is all I can remember.
When I woke up I remembered the dream. Did she mean that Eddie and Jane were going to have a baby boy? They had already been blessed with a little son since. No one, as far as I knew, was expecting a baby. I asked around the family whether anyone was expecting. No one was.
Several weeks later I had a phone call one day from England. The caller had spoken to another niece of mine that day (the niece who had written and read the poem at Tyffany’s funeral) – she, unfortunately, had become estranged from her parents. “I just had to call you….I’ve just realised…I was asleep…Nina told me today that she had just had a scan. She is going to have a little boy.”
“I didn’t know she was pregnant.” I answered.
“No one did,” she replied. “Not even her mum. I just had to tell you. I’m really tired and got to be up early tomorrow so I’ll get back to sleep now.”
We said our goodnights and I put the phone down. I was feeling a bit perplexed.
“Who was it?” my partner called out.
“Oh, it was Louise, for some reason she woke up and had to tell me that Nina was going to have a little..” Suddenly it dawned on me. “That’s it!” Louise had phoned to tell me that Nina was having a little boy because that was what Tyffany had told us would happen. Again Tyff had come through to present proof that she was still around – Yet more amazing confirmation for Eddie and Jane. It was a wonderful moment.
Of course after my dream of Tyffany I continued to wrestle with my questions and concerns about the feather but I still couldn’t bring myself to look in the bag. Now though there was an increasing urgency. In just a few weeks I would be flying to England and would be seeing my brother. I had to have that feather. Every day I became surer that the feather was meant for my brother and this only increased my dread of looking in the travel bag.
One morning, sitting pensively in my study the thought came into my head, “Go and look in the bag now.” I had goose bumps and not a little apprehension as I opened the bedroom cupboard. I wheeled out the bag, and knelt beside it. This was it. I had to allay my fears and face the music. The bag was stuffed with all sorts of odds and ends we never used. As I pulled these out I thought there was no way I would have put Tyffany’s feather in here. If it was it would be crushed and completely ruined. In a way I hoped it wasn’t there. Perhaps I’d left it at someone’s house. One of the most likely scenarios was that it had fluttered down from my study shelf and been vacuum-ed up by mistake. I continued to pull stuff out of the bag until the only thing left was a papier-mâché round red trinket box with an outline of the Earth in gold upon the lid. Well that was it! I’d lost Tyffany’s feather.
There was nowhere else to look. I knew it was pointless looking in the trinket box. I didn’t put it in there, but I opened the lid quickly – dismissively really…tucked nice and safely, curled inside this eminently safe place was Tyffany’s fluffy white, pristine feather.
I’ve since passed the feather on to my brother. He’ll keep it safe. And every now and then he’ll pick it up, like I did, and he’ll know – as I do,
We have an angel in our midst.