Submitted by Joe Bach
December 2009

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During Joe’s time in the military he was provided an opportunity that he never really had growing up. There were 12 years between himself and his older sister, Maggie, and because of this age difference they never truly developed a close relationship. Maggie had moved out of the house while Joe was still a young boy. At one point she had even lived in Alaska. It wasn’t until she moved to Yuma, Arizona that their relationship starting taking off.

Stationed in San Diego, Joe was finally able to see and talk to his sister on a much more frequent basis. Eventually they ended up with only 50 miles between them. Maggie had moved to Los Angeles and Joe lived just 50 miles north of there. As their bond continued to grow Joe realized that Maggie was not just his older sister. She had become his best friend and closest confidant.

Over the years Joe enjoyed the many phone calls from his sister. Always eager to hear what was going on with Maggie, this particular call was one he would never forget. Joe found himself devastated as she revealed the terrible news. Maggie said that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Trying to be strong for his sister, it wasn’t until he hung up the phone that the emotions raced through his body. Disbelief turned to anger, then to frustration. The Frustration of loving someone so much and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do to take such a burden away from them. Sadness overcame him and all he could do was crumple to the floor, tears flowing.

Joe devoted himself to being there for her. He may have been the baby brother but he was determined to give his sister all the strength she needed. Maggie endured the insufferable treatments of chemo and for two years the cancer hid itself in remission. Joe was thankful for whatever time he was blessed to have left with her. When the cancer did return it was with a vengeance, firmly establishing itself throughout her body. Maggie lost the battle on January 10th, 1988.

Although numbed by his loss, Joe clearly remembered sitting on a bench outside the hospital and noticing how beautiful a day it was. The sky was blue and cloudless, the birds were singing, and it was a balmy 75 degrees around him. Strangely, he thought to himself, “How can this day, a day of such loss and heartache, be such a beautiful day?” Then he realized something. This was his first sign. Death is not ugly. It may be painful to those of us left behind but death itself can be very beautiful. He felt his sister was nudging him to see that she was finally at peace.

Regardless of what he had felt that day, Joe’s every waking moment was consumed with thoughts of Maggie. One day he found himself lying on the bed trying to take a nap. He screamed out silently in his own mind, “PLEASE, JUST LET ME KNOW YOU’RE OK AND YOU MADE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE!” Joe sent his plea with every ounce of mental strength he could muster.

Suddenly Joe felt himself being lifted off the bed by two figures. One gently cradled him and said, “Everything is fine, she made it. Don’t worry about her, she is safe.” Joe did not recognize the figures, but nonetheless, the light and love that emanated from them gave him the warmest, most comforting feeling he had ever experienced in his life. It could have been nothing less than pure love. How appropriate that his sister had transitioned into the afterlife from a place called “The City of Angels.”

Twenty-one years later Joe can still recall those feelings from his “hug from heaven” as if it were only moments ago. Maggie has come to him in dozens of dreams since then, smiling and laughing. How fortunate are those that can make contact with loved ones from the other side. It is truly a blessing.